It's been a while since network television had a good sci-fi show. NBC's Revolution has its moments, but that's really more of an action Western most of the time. The last great science fiction series on a broadcast network was probably Lost, though that show was anything but great toward the end. Which brings us to Almost Human, the new Fox series premiering this Sunday. It's a modestly ambitious series molded into a traditional buddy cop format. That's a clever way to blend sci-fi in with more typical television tropes, but the conceit winds up hobbling the series. Despite a couple of futuristic details, the feels too familiar; nothing is as wild or out-there as we want it to be.
Take the time period. Almost Human is set just 35 years in the future, far enough away to sort of convince us that hyper-realistic, sentient robots have been invented, but close enough that, y'know, the production designers can still use stuff that currently exists. There's nothing wrong with a tale set in the near-future, but the details need to be more thoughtful than they are in Almost Human, which hurries us along into its story without doing much exploration of the world that houses it. So, the story: I mentioned robots. Well, those robots (androids, cyborgs, whatever your fancy) are used by the LAPD to combat crime in a city that has spiraled into chaos. It's unclear what's caused this extreme spike in crime, but the city's a dangerous place, so each police officer is paired with a robot. Makes sense, right?