Almost Human: Season 1, episode 3. Are You Receiving? (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 3. Are You Receiving? (2013) has a challenge to maintain the standard. Having just watched an episode showing how the human species is being persuaded to initiate a species extinction event — supplying automatic women to all men at reasonable rates ensures human women are made redundant and no births occur to replace humanity — we come back to Earth with an episode showing the health benefits of cooking oil for limb maintenance. Dorian (Michael Ealy) passed on this little tip (recommending olive oil for Greek salads and knee joints) and, in the privacy of his own kitchen, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is prepared to give it a try. Then we get that he’s late for picking up his android partner (it’s programmed to care about such trivial matters) and how hot he likes his coffee. This bickering is all too human (vague humour intended) as human criminals walk into a commercial building and plant an explosive device in a room containing old-fashioned servers — no cloud computing for these future businesses.
So here comes our duo to the rescue. Except first they have to climb twenty-five storeys to get to where the perps are hiding (did you notice Dredd used to call malefactors perps?) There’s a wonderful joke as Dorian answers an emergency call as they climb up to where the hostage takers are waiting (note the police jamming only stops calls leaving the building — it has no effect on calls within the building). Out of the multitude of callers, he then picks up a call being made by Paige (Emily Rios), one of the people on the twenty-fifth floor who has escaped capture by hiding in a closet. She’s now their inside source of information as the pirates make one of the hostages walk the plank out of a window to deter the police from entering. This gives our human hero (nicknamed Reginald aka John, Elton) the chance to talk about ice fishing as the interminable climb up the stairwell continues. It’s a cool drone delivery system (Amazon uses them to deliver books) for a telephone that beats the communications shutdown in the area. The nutty cultists demand the trigger for a really big bomb as the price for releasing of the hostages. Captain Sandra Maldonado (Lili Taylor) now gets her moment in the sun as the negotiator. Naturally she’s seen to pull back the snipers from the roof having a clear shot into the floor where the bad buys are. Such are the sacrifices required when trying to placate religious fanatics. Or perhaps they’ve got new technology that enables them to mimic the appearance of anyone. Perhaps they’re not the soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire.
Anyway Dorian gets shot in the head and this gives him the chance to announce he’s only got five more minutes to walk. And they’re still only on the fifteenth floor. I could have walked to the moon (and back) in this time, but this script has to drag out the suspense. Meanwhile back at the police HQ, Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook) our clever techie person, is building a hair-trigger lookalike that will fool some of the criminals some of the time or something. Now our human detective gets to do brain surgery on his partner. All he has to do is not contaminate the positronic brain while cutting the magenta wire (this will disable the widget that’s causing the legs to fail). So he makes do with chewing gum to cover up the hole in the head, sticks his finger in the android’s ear and, like magic, Dorian is walking and talking and climbing lift cables like he was born in jungle trees like Tarzan wasn’t. I must get me some of that chewing gum for when I get shot in the head.
Meanwhile the inside person decides to go outside and comfort her sister who’s one of the hostages. She times her run from the closet to perfection and no-one notices the arrival of a volunteer hostage. At this point, I remember every Sunday night from 1955 onwards, on British television, there was a show called Sunday Night at the London Palladium. With this major plot revelation under my belt, our heroes complete their climb to the twenty-fifth floor, save the hostages, kill the bad guys, and disarm the bomb. To describe this as a weak plot would be understating the quality of the ideas. At least last week was trying to do something science fictional with android technology. This was just a hack heist plot with hostages thrown into the mix. I liked some of the repartee between Karl Urban and Michael Ealy like, “No-one messes with my coffeemaker.” It’s also interesting that Dorian didn’t want to die. But in the words of the immortal poet, dead is dead so that’s what he didn’t want to get so early in the series. My interest slumped during this episode except to speculate on why both this series and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has British actors playing the scientists. Have American education standards fallen to such a point in these futures that no local scientists with sufficient brain power are emerging into the light? If that’s the case, America should be recruiting scientists from Korea or Singapore, and teaching them American English for communication purposes. As an aside, did you notice no-one thanks our Brit for his great work on the substitute device. Of course, even brilliant Brits are used to be ignored so sending him to Coventry is like sending him home. As a conclusion, if Almost Human: Are You Receiving? is going to be the default standard of script, I won’t be watching many more. The banter between the two leads is not going to carry the series.
For a review of another episode, see
Almost Human. Season 1, episode 1 (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 2. Skin (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 4. The Bends (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 5. Blood Brothers (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 6. Arrhythmia (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 7. Simon Says (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 8. You Are Here (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 9. Unbound (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 10. Perception (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 11. Disrupt (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 12. Beholder (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 13. Straw Man (2014).