TV Talk with Breanna #11: Why Almost Human is Almost Canceled

TV Talk with Breanna #11: Why Almost Human is Almost Canceled

tvtalk11This article was originally written in March 2014. Almost Human has since been canceled.

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve bound to have heard of JJ Abrams in some context. After the extreme success of his show LOST, the demand for Abrams went through the roof, and soon enough he was directing the new Star Trek and Star Wars movies, all while still creating television shows left and right. Since 2010, Abrams has had a show on the air every year, either by being a writer, creator, producer, or all of the above. Although all of these shows have received a lot of attention from their networks, JJ Abrams’ shows are very hit-and-miss, either lasting for only 13 episodes or up to several seasons. Unfortunately, Almost Human, one of his newest ventures, may very well be falling into the former category soon enough.

Almost Human, which just wrapped up its first season in early March, follows two police detectives in the year 2048, where technology and science have evolved at an uncontrollable rate and caused a 400% increase in crime rates. The police develop a new strategy to combat this corruption, and now every human detective must be paired with a robotic one. The robots, or “synethetics”, come in many models, but the standard-issued are the personality-less, logic-based MXs. The strategy is working and has become completely normal to the world, but it is not without its faults.

After being ambushed in an operation and losing his leg because of the abandonment of his android, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) awakens from a 17-month coma and returns to the field, only to reasonably have trouble with his new robotic partner. After pushing his MX out of a moving car, Kennex is assigned to an older synthetic model, called the DRNs, who were designed to be a human as possible. However, the androids were seen as being “too human”, often times having difficulties dealing with their emotions, and were decommissioned from the police force. Soon enough though, Kennex’s robot– called Dorian (Michael Ealy)– shows that he is uniquely qualified to be working as a detective; and although he doesn’t always understand the human side of things, he shows that he’s not just another robot either, through his distinct dislike of terms such as “synthetic”. Although very different, the two detectives must work together to protect the city of New York, while also investigating Kennex’s ambush and Dorian’s nature along the way.

Almost Human has a lot going for it, with a great supporting cast, including talented actors such as Lili Taylor (who plays Captain Maldonado), Minka Kelly (who portrays Detective Valerie Stahl), and Mackenzie Crook (who plays Technician Rudy Lom). The show was given a lot of attention when it first premiered, with FOX even giving it a special preview and two-night premiere. However, it was here that the problems started, as the network decided that they would begin by airing the episodes out of order.

Of course, the pilot was played first, but it was after the first episode that the order completely changed. Instead of airing the intended-second episode, the network decided to air the intended-fifth, and it wasn’t until the eighth week that the ‘real’ second episode aired. Although this may sound completely crazy, most of the continuity was not affected, as most of the episodes had stand-alone storylines. However, one of the biggest plot points in Almost Human is the development between the relationship of Dorian and Kennex, and as you can imagine, their relationship was all over the place because of the incorrect airing order. At first, it just seemed as if their relationship was purposely erratic, with the two being friends one episode and almost strangers the next– and perhaps this is why FOX thought it would be okay to air the episodes out of order– but to any regular viewer it soon became clear that something was off. If this is starting to sound a little familiar to you, you may be remembering where I discussed this in the third edition of TV Talk with Firefly, which got canceled 14 episodes in largely due to, you guessed it, the episodes being aired out of order. Which is, unfortunately, where the title of this column comes into play.

Much like Firefly, Almost Human had ratings that continued to decrease each week. This can’t completely be blamed on the episodes being out of order (as casual viewers most likely wouldn’t be able to tell at all), but it is definitely a factor. While FOX has renewed almost all of its shows, Almost Human remains one of the few that has yet to have been picked up for a second season. Many of the critics and ratings blogs have labeled the show as ‘more likely to be canceled than to be renewed’, so the future of the show currently does not have a positive outlook.

However, don’t let this stop you from getting into the show! Almost Human has great sci-fi storylines and a very Fringe feel (probably because they were both created by JH Wyman). The plot is very complex but also extremely well-thought out, and although the characterization is a little wonky, the relationship between Dorian and Kennex is truly fun to watch. If FOX decides to renew Almost Human, it will be returning this fall with its second season. You can watch the first season on iTunes or fox.com, and if you’re so inclined, you can quickly find the correct order of the episodes online to enjoy the show as it was truly meant to be.