Almost Human has an A-list cast, a prime time spot, and an original story line. So why did it get chopped? All you have to do is change the channel to see why.
I am a fierce, fierce fan of Karl Urban. I love him. That kiwi’s smoldering good looks has hooked me since the early days of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Yeah, that’s a little later in his career, but at the time, it was really when I was just starting to notice genuinely handsome men. I loved him in Riddick, I loved him in Star Trek, I loved him anything. Except Almost Human.
In recent years I’ve been in love with BBC shows. It began with the miniseries Jekyll, then I stumbled across Merlin on Syfy, my sister had me watch ‘Blink’ to hook me on Doctor Who, and one night I checked out Sherlock and blew through it in a weekend. My friend suggested Misfits and I was helplessly in love. Whites on Hulu was great too, because I’ve spent maybe 7 years working in the food industry. Speaking of subscription TV, I loved Hemlock Grove and haven’t heard a bad thing about House of Cards or Orange is the New Black. So why all the binge watching on shows with relatively unknown actors, low budgets, and only a few episodes to their names?
Because they’re good. They’re really good.
There might be spoilers ahead if you’re not up to date with these shows, so proceed with caution.
When Merlin began, their CGI was terrible. I’ve always considered myself a diehard Arthurian, and it should have destroyed me how far the show wandered from—nay, slandered the doctrine of–the myth, but it didn’t. I loved Merlin, I loved Arthur, I loved Gwen and Morgana and Uther and Gaius, I loved everything about that show. They desecrated the gospel that is Arthurian legend and I paid them to do it! Yes, yes; I not only watched it on Netflix, but I bought the seasons on DVD as well. So what made me love it so much? Because it was actually an incredibly good story. Colin Morgan never held back in his role as Merlin—he was entirely believable as a loyal friend, a strong believer in Arthur, protector, and given the information he had, he truly thought what he was doing was right. Merlin had to make tough choices, Arthur had to make tough choices, and through it all those two handsome hunks had each other. Arthur loved Gwen, Morgana let bitterness overwhelm her, and Uther just never really got it. Yeah, it was a fantasy show, but the characters were real and well rounded and genuine. That entire show was 100% beautiful and even making it five seasons, it was cut all too soon.
Doctor Who—do I really need to say anything? Doesn’t everyone watch it? I’m a Rose Tyler fan, and her relationship with the Doctor is the stuff my dreams are made of. Ok, maybe that was a little creepy, we’ll move on: Captain Jack Harkness was only in Doctor Who for a handful of episodes and he got his own spinoff. Donna Noble was an inspiration to lowly temps everywhere, Amy Pond and Rory Williams are a love story for the ages, I probably greet my husband with “Hello Sweetie” three times a week, and who wasn’t entirely satisfied to see meek Mickey and lovesick Martha married and kicking ass against the Sontarans? Those two cowboyed up! The point is, Doctor Who is about growing as people. It’s about becoming more than you were, that every single person is important, that love conquers all, and sometimes you have to say goodbye. Doctor Who might be a scifi show and labeled as nerdy (and maybe it is a touch), but ultimately it’s deep, and all the characters in that blue box flying through time and space become just as real to you as the people sitting around your table at Christmas dinner.
If you haven’t watched Misfits, you’re missing out. It’s on HuluPlus and it’s practically crack on TV. Spoiler alert: none of the characters are actually that good. But in all my years, I’ve never met a person without flaws. These characters are more real and down to Earth than anything else on TV. It probably didn’t help that I was watching this show while I was watching Almost Human, and I preferred Misfits over it. I tended to continue to watch Misfits episode after episode instead of switching over to the new episode of Almost Human; that’s how good it is.
And now we get to the meat of this symposium.
Pilot episodes should always be taken with a grain of salt. It introduces the characters, we get a feel for how everyone meets, and we get an idea of what this adventure is all going to be about. Moving on.
Right out of the gate it’s obvious Michael Ealy is way under appreciated as an actor. The chemistry between him and Karl Urban is, well, almost Colin Morgan and Bradley James level. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman chemistry. David Tennant and Matt Smith!!! Michael and Karl make a good TV duo. Just look at them! But the story was just absolute crap!
I liked Dorian. I liked Rudy. I liked Captain Sandra Maldonado (still not sure why, Lili Taylor was much better in Hemlock Grove). I didn’t like John Kennex and I didn’t like Valerie Stahl. What the hell was up with Richard Paul? Only half the cast was really likable, that doesn’t make for a good TV show. It could be good if someone did it right, but unfortunately, neither Joe Abercrombie or Steven Moffat worked on the script, so, no. It didn’t make for good TV.
Someone should have given Michael Ealy an award for his performance of listening to that God-awful story about the psychic’s whose life was just horrible. Actually, an award should probably go to that actress for managing tears in that pathetic, eye-roll inducing tale. I don’t remember which episode it was. All I know is, I turned to my Sweetie and said, “We should have watched another episode of Misfits.”
The story lines were miserable. Kennex’s flashbacks were unbearable. The world they created–awesome, it was fascinating. I fully expect to be seeing those translucent sheets of paper that work as tablets by the time I’m Detective Stahl’s age (how old was she, anyways?). To some extent, it was ridiculously unbelievable–such as the fact law enforcement couldn’t keep up with the development of weapon technology? I’ll consider it, but only because of severely reduced spending budgets. What are we paying the FBI for if they can’t keep tabs on sex-bot industries using human skin for a more lifelike experience?
There are massive plot holes, thinly developed characters, and weak story lines. It was a cool concept, the actors were out of this world, the producer was handed Star Wars he’s that good, and Fox still managed to screw the pooch. Thanks Fox. I’m not certain what you did, but your shows are about as meaningful as prepubescent Disney sitcoms. It’s terrible.
Would we be having this conversation if Joss Wheadon was running things? Well…we’d still probably be having this ‘cancelled after one season’ conversation, but not for the same reasons.
This isn’t a matter of absent target audiences, this isn’t a matter of funding getting cut, this is a matter that not even the beautiful duo of Karl Urban–who I LOVE–and Michael Ealy–who I now also love–could bring me back for another episode. Mackenzie Cook’s lovable yet mostly awkward android pathologist Rudy Lom couldn’t bring me back for another episode. The bad guy going over the ominously mentioned ‘Wall’ couldn’t bring me back for another episode. The show is bad and the writers should feel bad. If the quality of TV had dipped so much across the board, it would be a different story. In fact, if TV had fizzled to complete mindless slush, this might not be a point of discussion. But there is a lot of really good TV out there right now and if writers can’t keep up, then they’re going to lose the audience. We won’t just show up because we’re supposed to. Names might draw us in for a while, but you have to make us want to come back.
So until the fans manage to scrap together a petition to bring about a movie sequel and unless it’s written and directed by someone else, my dear Detective Kennex and my darling Dorian, I will let Christoph Waltz wrap this up for me: