Yes unfortunately, the axe has fallen upon the Karl Urban starring sci-fi series about a human cop with an android partner, after it’s first season of 14 episodes proved unsuccessful at finding a big enough audience despite decent ratings, television network Fox has decided to cancel the series.
As someone who has seen the series in its entirety and did enjoy it, I have to say this is a disappointment but I’d be lying if I tried to say I’m not surprised. The series had some potential in it’s initial episodes, but never really lived up to that potential and rarely exceeded itself in ways that it could have such as other J.J. Abrams produced shows that it was very similar in ways to such as Fringe. It also didn’t do enough to distinguish itself as a unique series and in particular amongst audiences recalled (pun intended) the TV series of Total Recall (which in all honestly was more like Blade Runner than Total Recall).
Still, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, as it’s another nail in the coffin of sci-fi television, and is likely to make any networks considering bringing a science-fiction series to television reconsider the cost versus the required audience to make it worthwhile. Science fiction could do a lot worse than Almost Human did, but really needs to do a lot better.
For my money, the show just wasn’t edgy enough or expansive enough, and I’m sorry to keep doing it, but I’m going to compare it to Fringe, another edgy sci-fi show that continually pushed the boundaries of not only itself but also of its audience. Despite being moved to Friday nights early in its five season run in the U.S. (referred to as the death slot for usually marking the last season of a show before it was cancelled due to low ratings – especially in regards to sci-fi shows), Fringe managed to keep a core audience engaged, with edgy storylines that continually evolved and characters that were interesting and you cared about. Unfortunately Almost Human did not build upon the potential of it’s promising two part ‘pilot’ episode, where it seemed the show setup an interesting scenario, with a cop injured in the line of duty who finds himself now with a synthetic leg and a synthetic partner.
Where the stage was now set for some unique character moments, we got very little in the way of humour where many buddy cop movies would have had a field day, with Karl Urban’s Detective John Kennex a bitter experienced cop saddled with Dorian (DRN) the only active android to have emotions, played fairly well by Michael Ealy – and yet unfortunately lacking any real signs of an emotional core. The issue of Kennex’s synthetic leg was quickly played down, and rarely used to any effect either in the middle of action sequences (I mean, come on, surely there are combat advantages to having a synthetic leg?) or aside from a reference a few episodes in, even used to make a psychological comment on what effects losing a limb had on the character. Nope, after a few episodes the most we got was a reference to using olive oil as a lubricant because it worked better!
Then there’s the setup in the pilot episode of how Kennex lost his leg, and a potential plot that seemed like it was going to be the launching point for an ongoing arc throughout the series firstly that would build to something big and that the character would be invested in since it cost him his leg. But again, this was dropped after the initial episodes, and though there were signs as the series came to the end of its 14 episode run (regarding ‘the wall’ and some kind of closed off section of the city) as we began to see more and more of a divide of society, with a sort of ‘down below’ poverty area (to borrow from Babylon 5 – of all shows, why that one Andrew?!) and the higher class genetically engineered – something which despite having a main character who we learned was genetically engineered. but never got so much as a glimpse of before the number of episodes was into double digits, and it’s not really a surprise the show didn’t get a second season.
It has the signs of a show that the writers hadn’t mapped out where they wanted to go and were waiting for the show to tell them instead of having some kind of a plan. It’s a shame, as the show did have potential, just it never came close to realising it.