Photo: Justin Stephens / Fox

'For Real. Why Are We Still Watching Almost Human?'

Dave and Tara discuss their unaccountably weird relationship with a C+ show.

Our Players

Hello, I'm West Coast Editor Tara Ariano.
Howdy, I'm David T. Cole.

The Discussion

Dave. For real. Why are we still watching Almost Human.
I firmly believe it may be the question of our age -- and, if we can't crack this nut here today, a mystery for the ages.
Partly I think it's that there are not that many shows that we both watch, and that this is just lowest-common-denominator enough that maybe we'd rather spend an hour together with something neither of us is that psyched about than for you to sit in the room playing Threes while Jon Gosselin gets therapy?
You bring up an important point, and that is that one doesn't really watch Almost Human so much as one simply coexists with the show. It doesn't warrant or deserve your full attention, so you can consume it without having to really be in the moment. Also don't make me choose between you and Threes.
The reason we started watching it is...well, originally it's that we got a screener of the pilot. And I guess we kept watching because there's inherent fun in mocking just about anyone's vision of The Not-So-Distant Future, particularly if there are extremely human-looking androids around to make us (I guess) ponder what it means to be human or whatever the hell. But I feel that Almost Human is rarely dumb enough to mock and never thoughtful enough to make the viewer philosophical. Would you agree?
I would, and I'll go one step further and say this is a smartly engineered dumb show. It has a hook -- android cops of the future -- but doesn't do much with it. There's no grand futurist vision here. It's a cop show from the '70s or '80s dressed up with holographic versions of stuff like police crime scene tape. It's smart enough not to be smart. It's oatmeal with a little cyber sugar and not, like, sun-dried kumquats or something.
And I feel like some thought was put into not making it too cartoony -- Minka Kelly looks like she's wearing whatever she happened to have on when she drove to the set, for instance -- and yet there has also been a sexbot in, like, every other episode.
Agreed! The present is equidistant between Almost Human and something like Mob City or Adam-12. We know the past and can enjoy it for nostalgia's sake, but predicting the future is a minefield of bad guesses and overwrought design. Almost Human comes in and says "fuck it" and just adds a few cyber sprinkles to very conventional storylines.
The most conventional of which is the gruff cop who can't connect to people and is a big grump all the time: the twist (I guess) is that the emotional member of the partnership is the one who's actually a robot I MEAN CAN YOU EVEN?! In last night's episode, we got to see Kennex's "playful" side when he spread a rumour that one of his other cop rivals was out because he got some infection from a sexbot. (And yes, for those of you who've never seen the show, the one called "Kennex" is the human one.) (Or is he? Is he maybe secretly a robot too?) (Probably not, because he has an artificial leg and presumably someone would have noticed when he lost the flesh one, but who knows?) (Or cares?)
Not me! There's playful gruff and then there's whatever Karl Urban is doing here. If it wasn't for Michael Ealy's Dorian (he's the ro-bit!) I probably wouldn't be writing this. He's the heart (ironic!) of the show.
He's the only one who seems to be trying. Well, him and Lili Taylor's hairstyle.
Photo: Kharen Hill / Fox

Photo: Kharen Hill / Fox

And we're definitely not here for Minka Kelly's Det. Stahl, who never seems to be doing any detecting. I'm not sure she even works for the police department. I have a theory she's like a Milton-esque character who was fired last year but keeps coming to work and it is easier for all involved to just let her live the lie.
She's the potential love interest that lets us know Kennex isn't gay -- for Dorian, or in general. When in reality Kennex is nowhere near good enough for Dorian.
DON'T DATE ROBOTS!
So even though it's clear that neither of us actually enjoys watching this show...there are only two more episodes, so I suppose we kind of have to hang in and see where it's going? The John Larroquette episode ended with him going over some wall we never knew existed until then, so maybe that's going to pay off in some way?
Yeah the wall, what's up with that? We're three-quarters the way through the season and, oh by the way, the city is surrounded by a giant wall and there are Bad People and Bad Things on the other side. I suppose that will connect with the incredibly scattershot plot where Kleenex's (I call him Kleenex) wife turned out to be some sort of enemy of the state. Maybe in turn all that will dovetail with Larroquette's mad scientist character, but at any rate you have to admire a show for casting John Larroquette as a Big Bad.
You do if anything comes of it, but it wouldn't surprise me if we just never saw that guy again. I don't get the sense that the show has a great handle on long-term arcs.
Which is fine by me. Arcs require attention.
The real test of our admittedly half-assed commitment will be the hiatus. The show's going to take many months off, and it's unlikely that we'll start to care MORE about it while it's gone.
The show goes on hiatus for 6 days and 23 hours every week. It falls out of my head immediately after I watch it, and yet, the next week, I'm there watching The Ol' Grumpy And Robot Show. Like the androids, Almost Human puts you in stasis between episodes. Being in stasis for one week is the same as one month or one year. We'll wake up and watch. We always do.
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