Almost Human – Arrhythmia Review: Good, Not Great
An hour after watching the latest episode of Almost Human
, I had almost no recollection of the show’s events. Sure I can have a vague idea of what the plot consisted of and can say that there probably was some semi-enjoyable banter, but nothing really resonates. Something about heart transplants and some kind of killer pacemaker, oh and there were two Dorians for some reason. Do you see where I’m going with this? I’ve critiqued the show’s apparent blandness, despite its interesting, if not derivative, premise before. For a science fiction series dealing with robot cops, crazy advanced technology and elaborate crime stories, it sure is forgettable. The writers do just enough for a story to sustain the hour-long time frame, but noting to keep the viewers interest beyond that.
Nothing that we see in a given episode is particularly memorable or interesting. There is a conflict presented and through elaborate machinations with a bit of buddy-cop humor thrown in, the conflict is solved by the end of the hour. And that is fine, there are plenty of shows that succeed with that exact approach, but the really good ones tend to provide something more than just mindless entertainment for an hour, and thus are able to attract a loyal following. Whether it is by an identifiable and distinctive visual or tonal style or the formation of relatable and/or unique characters. Whether you like NCIS or not, there is no denying that they have benefited on creating characters that audiences respond to and want to see more of, can’t really say that about Almost Human. Judging by its steady decline in ratings, if the writers don’t modify their approach, there isn’t much of a future for the series. Almost Human is a serviceable show, but will not move out of “middle-of-the-road” category if it continues as is.
Despite all that, the newest episode “Arrhythmia” continues to take the baby steps towards improvement that began with the preceding instalment. That cold open is the best one they have done so far. It is nice to see the exploration of this futuristic world, how aspects of our life have evolved and how they affect the public. The emergency room, equipped with hologram nurses, is effectively grim and an interesting approach to the advancement of healthcare (though I have to say it felt less like a hospital and more like a government office… maybe that was what they were going for). If there is anything we can be sure of, it’s that emergency rooms will continue to be miserable and crowded well into the future. That’s something to look forward to.
Also, the introduction to the main conflict of the episode is surprisingly engaging. Yes the actor is a little bit over the top, but that is what the scene and the situation call for. His entrance and consequent scene efficiently create tension as well as intrigue. Immediately we want to know why he is doing this and what drove him to this breaking point. His last words also add another air of mystery surrounding the whole situation and sets up an ominous villain. The episode definitely peaks with this sequence, apart from a few moments here and there; the cold open is certainly its highlight.
As for the episode’s narrative, I won’t even attempt at a synopsis of this week’s story because it is so convoluted, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad, but it feels a bit overwrought. Still the writers once again take advantage of the setting and created a story unique to the world of the show. It is a topic that, as science fiction stories tend to do, relates to our contemporary woes and allows for the exploration of more philosophical themes and issues. Also, nonsense techy-science is fun; the futuristic speculative science aspect is something that the writers keep improving on.
There is a good and appreciated expansion and exploration of the vague world presented in the pilot. We even get to see and interact with another DRN model. This part of the narrative is more character-driven, but isn’t as effective as one might want. This is an opportunity for Dorian to evaluate his own mortality and purpose in this world. It just fine, it doesn’t really develop the character much, we already know the deal with the synthetic soul and how he is different from the MXs. Though bringing in another DRN does present some amusing moments, like when Dorian #2 tackles the dude and sparks a pretty hilarious chain of events. Again, the buddy-cop banter is well done and executed, but not amazing.
continues to grow and improve as a show; the science fiction aspect is not just a shadow looming over the series, but now an identifying characteristic. The crime stories are getting better, and with some considerable character development, it could actually become something more than acceptable.
- I know Minka Kelly and Lili Taylor were in the episode, but I have no recollection of their roles in this story.
- Why are all the DRNs exact copies but the MX’s have different looking models?