‘Almost Human’ offers robots and action, but it could use a little levity

Posted by Adrienne Johnson on November 17, 2013 

Karl Urban and Michael Ealy star in “Almost Human.”

LIANE HENTSCHER/FOX

It’s probably a good thing that Fox delayed broadcasting “Almost Human” (8 p.m. Sunday) for a few weeks and added airing a second hour on Monday night -- particularly the adding the second hour part.

That’s because the first hour of “Almost Human” is one of those pilots that spends a lot of time setting up the context and in doing so, feels a little empty. You can see the promise of something that might work, but what’s there isn’t all that memorable.

The story takes place in the future, a bleak one in which crime rates have gone up 400 percent and criminal organizations are running rampant. Happily, there are police and one of them is John Kennex ( Karl Urban). Unhappily, we see him and his team ambushed by a faceless gang and then Kennex’s leg gets blown off.

He survives and gets an artificial leg -- or more like a robotic leg that he doesn’t seem to like to reboot properly. (He’s always ignoring some message about it not calibrating.) Yet his survival has left him broken emotionally too; he spends a lot of time trying to remember what happened to him. And he’s very dour.

When he returns to the force he’s given a new partner and in this new era, that partner is a robot, something Kennex isn’t happy about. He has what we’ll call a falling out with said partner and is given a new one -- an older model no longer used, that was programmed to be more human; it has emotions. The android is named Dorian (and played by a facial-hairless Michael Ealy). Suddenly we have a buddy cop dynamic.

The partners are both “almost human”; in truth, Dorian is more human than Kennex, who seems dead inside. Too dead inside, in my book. There are moments of light humor that the dour setting of the show could use, but in the pilot Dorian is doing all of the work. Kennex is a real drag. Plus a lot of the issues Kennex have, you’ve seen on a thousand cop shows.

Still, as I said, it’s the pilot and once things are set up, the show could loosen up and get interesting. Fingers crossed. Fox didn’t send the second hour for screening, so we’ll all find out together whether “Almost Human” is worth our time. Right now, I’d say it’s mostly OK.

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