Almost Human is not the first TV show to pair a human and an android as police-force partners. In fact, ABC somewhat bizarrely debuted two different projects with the exact same premise back in 1976: Future Cop and Holmes & Yoyo, the latter of which featured a robot that basically amounted to a dude with an oversize calculator strapped to his chest that would randomly malfunction, causing him to break into dance moves when he was fired at. Nor does Almost Human (which takes place in 2048) convey a particularly original vision of the future, with its neon, rain-soaked slums, which come off as a carbon copy of the look put forth by every other dystopian project since Blade Runner (yes, another android-related tale). There’s also lots and lots of hand-swiping. You know, Minority Report-type gestures to move floating digital information to and fro, up and down. Man, does that look like a pain. Why does everyone in the future insist on turning the pursuit of knowledge into some sort of Mr. Miyagi training exercise?
The point is, there are plenty of reasons not to watch Almost Human. But the thing about the new Fox drama is that it gets the most important element right. Forget about the droids. Forget about the future. Forget about the fact that every time you look at Minka Kelly you still want to shake her for cheating on her paraplegic boyfriend, Jason Street, on Friday Night Lights. At its core, Almost Human boils down to a show about a mismatched pair of cops — in this case, Michael Ealy (who plays the android) and Karl Urban (who plays the android-hating human) — and the truth is, their chemistry is fantastic.
Ealy flat-out nails it playing the mischievous Dorian, part of a decommissioned line of ”synthetics” programmed to emulate human emotions. Dorian gets his kicks poking fun at Urban’s more steely and serious John Kennex. While Kennex was a little too dour in the pilot episode, he’s thankfully lightened up a bit since then, giving the duo the perfect blend of sweet and sour. Their rapport was perhaps best illustrated when Kennex opined,”Man, if I lived in a cabin, I’d kill myself.” Dorian’s response? ”You should buy a cabin, John.” Nice.
Almost Human could benefit from enriching the supporting characters. Though Mackenzie Crook shines in the admittedly cliché role of wacky tech-lab guy, Lili Taylor’s precinct boss is mostly relegated to spouting boring expository dialogue, and Kelly’s fellow cop/potential love interest for Kennex barely registers. As a result, Almost Human is not a great show. But thanks to Ealy and Urban, you can still have a good time watching it. B