by Matthew Thompson
With the summer winding down, I wanted to chime in on the new shows that I checked out over the past few months. I already talked about the best new series of the summer, Mr. Robot, a couple of weeks ago (and it has gotten even better since… seriously check it out if you haven’t yet), but there are a handful of others I wanted to give some thoughts on. I have decided to relegate spoilers to the bullets at the bottom, so people who haven’t had a chance to check these out can still see if they are worth their time. I’m kicking things off with Humans.
Humans is a new sci-fi drama on AMC (and Channel 4 across the pond) that focuses on an alternate present where Synths, incredibly realistic robotic servants, are all the rage. The show follows a number of disparate storylines where we see how the Synths affect people’s lives. There is the Hawkins family who has recently purchased one named Anita to help around the house. There is George whose father/son-like bond with his Synth Odi makes him protective and unwilling to give it up even when the outdated bot begins to malfunction. There is the detective Pete who must work on policing Synth activity at work while their infringement on his home life makes him resentful of everyone’s new favorite gadget. And finally there is Leo who is looking to reunite a group of synths who are like a family to him.
A lot of the material covered in Humans may seem a little well-worn within the genre. It looks at how these Synths could take roles that are important to humans whether that be their paying jobs or taking their place as parents. We see genre staples like sex-bots and robots with feelings pop up. The show looks to explore the idea of how these advanced AIs could eventually be dangerous to people. We see protests to the widespread adoption of these Synthetics. A lot of the issues they tackle we have seen before in similar fiction, but that isn’t that big a deal since they are still interesting topics to delve into. And they do a good job covering these subjects and some less typical ones in an entertaining way with some unexpected twists to keep you on your toes.
I really love the look of the Synths too. The actors do a great job portraying these almost-but-not-quite-the-real-thing robots. They really nail the slightly stilted movements and add just the right amount of eeriness to the equation. You can even see the differences between the newer models, the older ones and the more advanced bots at the heart of the show. Visually they look the part too with their distinctive green eyes. They’ve done an impressive job with this aspect of the show.
Humans gets better as it goes along before a somewhat flat finale, but even then there is a tease for an interesting future for the series which has already been renewed for a second season. Humans isn’t quite top-notch television, but it is still very good and would be a nice addition to anyone’s TV lineup. I’d especially recommend it to sci-fi fans given the somewhat slim pickings when it comes to quality entries in the genre still running these days.
- I love Niska. Whether she is kicking ass at an underground fight club or playing dolls with Sophie, she never ceases to entertain. Even among the other advanced Synths in her family, she stands out. She has a really interesting journey through this first season and I like the tease with her at the end. Definitely my favorite character so far.
- I totally didn’t realize Karen was a Synth until they revealed it in Episode 4. I probably should have been on the lookout for the “someone I think is human is obviously a robot” twist, but I guess I wasn’t. Her mannerisms definitely seemed Synth-y after the reveal, so I wonder if the clues were there ahead of time and I just wasn’t paying attention. I hope so because I like twists like that.