TV Review: ‘Almost Human’

Maia Zewert

Fox has not had a great history with sci-fi shows in recent years. “Dollhouse,” “Terra Nova” and, of course, “Firefly” all only lasted one season. However, the network really seems to believe in its newest venture into the genre with this year’s “Almost Human.”

The show is set in 2048, when human police officers are required to have lifelike robot partners in an effort to combat the rising scientific discoveries and the crimes committed to steal the information behind them. Karl Urban, who seems to have taken a real shine to sci-fi after playing Bones in the “Star Trek” reboot, stars as John Kennex, a cop who has been on the beat for a long time and does not see the point in having the robot partner.

Kennex returns to the field for the first time in two years after a raid that killed most his team, put him in a coma and blew off most of his leg (the pilot’s budget allowed for a somewhat gory shot of his dismembered leg). After getting a new synthetic leg that does not seem to be agreeing with him and pushing his android partner into traffic after the robot suggested Kennex was not fit to return to duty, Kennex is then assigned a new partner named Dorian, played by Michael Ealy, one of the first androids to be programmed with emotions.

“Almost Human” may read like a typical buddy cop show, however the futuristic setting allows for a much richer story telling. Urban and Ealy have a lot of fun developing their give-and-take as partners, and it is a joy watching their scenes together (I do hope we get more scenes of them talking in the car. Much like the leads of “Hawaii Five-0“, Ealy and Urban thrive when they’re stuck in confined spaces together).

Urban’s gruffness plays well on screen, but it is Ealy’s portrayal of the android that really steals the show. It could have been much too easy for him to fallback on a cartoonish representation of the robot, or for him to try to be Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Instead, he makes it his own, and in doing so, becomes the highlight of an already extraordinary show.