Last week, the other NOCs convened a Roundtable to hash out their feelings about the cancellation of Almost Human. I did not join in because I wanted some time to sit with my thoughts about the show and contemplate what Fox was attempting to do this television season.
Best as I can figure, Fox was clearly fishing in somewhat uncharted waters. On one hand, sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Dads showed the network’s commitment to a tried-and-true comedy formula peripheral to the nerd media diaspora. In the case of the former, it worked like a charm. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, having won the Golden Globe for best comedy in its rookie season, will likely be a staple in Fox’s weeknight lineup for several seasons. I expect the latter — Dads — will end up on the chopping block soon enough (despite rumors it might survive to a second season).
As for Almost Human, I feel like it and another oft-discussed show on our beloved forum — Sleepy Hollow — represented much riskier forays in new TV content.
Frankly, I think we’ve all had the general sense that no one anticipated the success of Sleepy Hollow. However, that show managed to quickly find its groove much the way a newly born fawn struggles to stand, but once it does is almost immediately running. I credit this to a writing team that clearly had a direction from the beginning and just stayed committed to it until it caught wind. As for Almost Human, I would say it was more like the last of the litter in that deer/fawn metaphor: you could see the potential, but getting to its feet initially was definitely a bit more of a struggle.
For my two cents — and this is no secret for those who read my law enforcement post about RoboCop — I liked Almost Human. A lot. But I’m also a realist. And it’s that voice of realism that tempered my enthusiasm for the show’s prospects. For one thing, take the damn budget for this show… SMDH. It would have needed to catch on at least as quickly as Sleepy Hollow in order for Fox to continuing funding it past 13 episodes.
However, I think that it could have really been something unique once the basic plot devices (i.e., the Kennex-Dorian relationship, the establishment of Dorian as the “outdated” precursor model to the later droid models, etc.) were established (and for what it’s worth, I think that was occurring by episode 13). But it would have needed a full season of 20+ eps to reach a range where it could get really interesting (i.e., deeper study into techno-cultural social themes like what Asimov’s I Robot delved into — themes that the feature-length Will Smith interpretation barely sniffed). And I just don’t think Fox has shown a history of being that patient with sci-fi material (Firefly, anyone?)
Some part of me is still holding out hope that Almost Human will live a second life somewhere in the cable universe or the dimension of Internet-exclusive production that Netflix is currently pioneering. But alas, the demise of this boldly creative, yet ill-fated, program may have already been predetermined for the aforementioned reasons.
If this is truly farewell Almost Human, then know that you will be treasured by many a NOC and sorely missed.