Get­ting wires crossed

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV -

Set in the year 2048, Al­most Hu­man re­volves around De­tec­tive John Ken­nex (the ever watch­able Karl Ur­ban) com­ing back to work af­ter an in­jury that cost him one of his legs. Like all po­lice of­fi­cers in this fu­ture, he is paired with a ro­bot. Un­like oth­ers, his “syn­thetic”, Do­rian (Michael Ealy with a per­pet­ual mis­chevous glint in his eyes), has the soft­ware to un­der­stand and em­u­late hu­man emo­tions, giv­ing him an ar­ti­fi­cial soul. Soon, how­ever, it be­comes clear that the show’s ti­tle can be ap­plied to both the main char­ac­ters – Do­rian, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, and Ken­nex be­cause he has way too many awk­ward in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple.

While it would be easy to dis­miss this pair as noth­ing more than a gim­mick, es­pe­cially with them hav­ing all the cliched traits, it would be a shame not to see Ur­ban and Ealy play th­ese char­ac­ters who of­ten have bit­ing ex­changes and throw in­sults at each other. The thought that a ro­bot can come up with a sar­cas­tic re­mark (like, “It is amaz­ing how you wear in­sur­bo­d­i­na­tion like a virtue”) is funny.

Un­for­tu­nately, there are more than a few gags that go side­ways and back­fire as well, like Do­rian talk­ing a chef into putting a live snail for a re­luc­tant Ken­nex to eat or Do­rian nag­ging Ken­nex about his so­cial skills or love life.

Thank­fully, there are more than a few things to dis­tract us when the hu­mour falls flat, namely the var­i­ous gad­gets in the fu­ture. The sur­round­ings look sim­i­lar to the present day – ex­cept cer­tain night scenes that look like a poor ver­sion of the movie Blade Run­ner – but there are some cool tech­nolo­gies en­vi­sioned in the se­ries. For one, Do­rian is a walk­ing com­puter, al­low­ing him to ac­cess any­thing about the crime scene in­stantly (when­ever his CPU is work­ing, a blue light ap­pears on one side of his face).

In this fu­ture, the crime scene yel­low tape is ac­tu­ally a holo­gram. There is also a tech­nol­ogy which makes a per­son’s face ap­pear as a ball of light on sur­veil­lance cam­eras and a bomb that re­leases all kinds of stuff, turn­ing a crime scene into a foren­sic night­mare.

Other than Do­rian talk­ing us through all the techi­cal as­pects of the show, there is also the geeky lab guy do­ing the ex­plain­ing. Ac­tor Macken­zie Crook (the pi­rate with the glass eye in Pi­rates Of The Caribbean films) makes a watch­able, al­though stereo­typ­i­cal, char­ac­ter.

How­ever, the same can’t be said of Lily Tay­lor and Minka Kelly. Th­ese ac­tresses play what must be the most colour­less po­lice of­fi­cers on tele­vi­sion ever. Kelly is pretty to look at, and the se­ries ob­vi­ously wants to ro­mat­i­cally pair Ken­nex with her char­ac­ter, but there is just no chem­istry. Tay­lor is a su­perb ac­tress, but her char­ac­ter is so bland be­cause she is hardly given any­thing to do.

Again, Al­most Hu­man is sal­vaged by some­thing else – the ac­tion se­quences. Since Ealy and Ur­ban are two phys­i­cal ac­tors, they come off very nat­u­ral when pulling out guns. Ealy has played a cop in all of his pre­vi­ous roles, so he should be fa­mil­iar with the phys­i­cal as­pects of be­ing a cop.

At the mo­ment, Al­most Hu­man plays out like a weekly episode, with the duo han­dling a dif­fer­ent case ev­ery week. But as seen in the pi­lot, there is a big­ger mys­tery con­cern­ing Ken­nex’s girl­friend and, how the man lost his limb in a bust gone very wrong.

What­ever path the se­ries de­cides to take – a weekly pro­ce­dural or a sea­son-long arc – Al­most Hu­man has enough en­ter­tain­ment value even with its few kinks.

Al­most Hu­man is aired ev­ery Mon­day at 9.50pm on Warner TV (Hyp­pTV Ch 613).

Do­rian (Michael Ealy) puts him­self in front to pro­tect his hu­man part­ner (Karl Ur­ban).

Do ro­bots have wrin­kles?

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