I liked it a lot. Although I was getting flashes of my initial negative reaction to the Fringe pilot.
Along with the bits of Fringe and the whole noodles-in-the-rain Blade Runner vibe, the setting of this series reminded me even more strongly of Old Detroit -- the skyrocketing crime rate, automaton cops, edgy violence, dismemberment of the hero in the opening scenes, check and check. The DNA company was even called Omni (the evil corporation in RoboCop was OCP, Omni Consumer Products).
But even though this show is hard sci-fi, it's accessible. There wasn't any futuristic gadget or premise that made me roll my eyes with impatience. That may be because the emphasis was on the two lead characters.
I expected to love Karl Urban as the lead, Kennex, and I did. I initially offered to review this pilot because Karl Urban was the lead. But Michael Ealy as the android cop Dorian won me over almost immediately, and I didn't expect that. In fact, Dorian showed more emotion during this episode than Kennex did. Which leads to the obvious Blade Runner replicant questions. What is a human, and what is not? And how can you tell the difference?
Kennex lost his leg in the opening scenes and was in a coma for 17 months. There was a reference early on to his synthetic body partssss, not part -- so what else about Kennex is artificial? How human is Kennex, and how synthetic is Dorian? Kennex initially hated the MX's (the most fun scene in the episode was when he almost casually pushed the MX out of the car and it ended up under a futuristic semi) and he obviously hates his own artificial leg, which is rejecting him (let's go for the obvious symbolism). But by the end of the episode, he wasn't rejecting Dorian. They already feel like there could be slash fiction in their future.
So what's the verdict? Impossible to tell from just a pilot. This could be a terrific science fiction show centered on two complex characters who care about each other. Or it could turn out to be a buddy cop show procedural with a twist that I'll stop watching in a few weeks.
I'm hoping for the former, but braced for the latter. I've been disappointed way too many times in the past few years. And hard sci-fi doesn't tend to do well on network television; it tends to thrive in the corners of the tube. This is not a corner-of-the-tube venture; it is clearly an expensive show that could fail in a big, expensive way.
Bots and pieces (sorry about the pun):
-- The year is 2048, and there has been a 400% increase in the crime rate. From when? A percentage of increase has to be based on an original number, doesn't it?
-- The bad guys belonged to a group called "Insyndicate" who seemed pretty darned hard core.
-- Kennex was taking tiny red pills. Were they treatment for the artificial limb rejection thingy? Is he addicted to something?
-- Kennex finally remembered, with the help of the illegal Recollectionist, that his ex-girlfriend was responsible for taking out his entire team. I assume that's the big storyline we'll be getting in future episodes.
-- Maldonado, Kennex's sympathetic boss, was played by Lili Taylor, who also played a much disliked continuing character on Six Feet Under.
What did you all think? Lines are open,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.