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Fox's Almost Human: another bleak future forecast


The future again is one big nightmare in Almost Human. Fox photo

Premiering: Sunday, Nov. 17th at 7 p.m. (central) with another new episode on Monday at the same time
Starring: Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Minka Kelly, Lili Taylor, Michael Irby, Mackenzie Crook
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, J.H. Wyman, Bryan Burk, Kathy Lingg, Reid Shane

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Present times can be trying enough.

But the future? Whether on big-screen or small-, look for pure hell in a hand basket.

In the case of Fox’s new Almost Human, it’s a very foreboding 2048. A lengthier than usual set of narrative bullet points sets the stage for a year you don’t want to live in. That’s because:

***Science and technology evolve at an uncontrollable pace.

***Unknown drugs and weapons flood our streets and schools.

***The contraband is controlled and distributed by violent, faceless, criminal organizations.

***And the crime rate rises an astounding 400%.

Yeah, and the “Obamacare” website is probably still a mess, too. So what are “outnumbered and overwhelmed” law enforcement types supposed to do? Well, for one thing, it’s now mandatory that every cop be partnered with an “advanced, combat-model Android.” So there.

Premiering Sunday before moving to its regular Monday slot on the following night, this apocalyptic, futuristic, blue-hued drama is from the J.J. Abrams (Revolution, Person of Interest, Alcatraz) factory of sinister overtones. Unlike those three series, though, his latest regular cast amazingly is without a co-star from Lost, which Abrams also birthed before leaving the driving to others.

Almost Human begins with a prolonged firefight in which the only surviving good guy is detective John Kennex (Karl Urban). But he’s left without much of his right leg, which is outfitted with a prosthetic device during the time he’s in a 17-month coma. Kennex yearns to find out how a gang of “Syndicate” bad guys knew about the police raid beforehand. Memory-jogging hookups to a jolting electrical device trigger a series of puzzle-part flashbacks. But these treatments also can be lethal when used too often.

Meanwhile, Kennex is very weary of his robotic, judgmental MX-43 Android partner. So he arranges a little accident and hooks up with a “flawed” but more human-like DRN (Michael Ealy as Dorian).

“I was made to feel. And I do. As much as you,” Dorian tells the still prickly Kennex.

Three of Fox’s new series this season -- Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and now Almost Human -- have appealing Caucasian/African-American partnerships in which race bracingly is almost beside the point. And the Kennex-Dorian combo is the best part of Almost Human, which otherwise keeps twisting and turning itself into a series of unwieldy plot knots.

Other regular cast members are Lily Taylor (Six Feet Under) as Kennex’s supportive boss, Sandra Maldonado, and Minka Kelly (Friday Night LIghts, Charlie’s Angels) as a detective named Valerie Stahl. But Kelly is so little used in the pilot that she’ll probably have to be taken hostage soon in order to beef up her character. Viewers also will have to endure the by now obligatory surly, distrustful cop who’d like to kick Kennex off the force. His name is Richard Paul and he’s played by Michael Irby.

By the end of Episode 1 -- after another bam, bam, bam gun battle -- Kennex has pretty much figured out who sold him out. But that person remains at large along with an ever-present swarm of ruthless crime bosses. Earth isn’t even a nice place to visit in Almost Human -- and you certainly wouldn’t want to live there. Ah, the future. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows still need not apply.


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