Thursday, 13 August 2015

Pilot watch: Fox's MINORITY REPORT

Thursday, 13 August 2015


What's the premise? Minority Report takes place in the mid-21st century, where crime was once prevented before it was even committed thanks to three "Precogs" (psychics who can predict the future). 15 years later, one of those Precogs, Dash (Stark Sands), returns from exile to help Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) tackle crime using his amazing gift of clairvoyance, while searching for his fellow Precogs (twin brother Arthur and foster sister Agatha).

Who's behind it? This TV series, created in partnership by 20th Century Fox, Amblin Entertainment and Paramount Television, is based on Steven Spielberg's 2002 sci-fi thriller starring Tom Cruise (itself adapting a Philip K. Dick short story). Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Skull Island) is the developer and showrunner.

Who's in it? You probably won't recognise many of the actors here, but Stark Sands was in Generation Kill and Meagan Good was in Anchorman 2. They're supported by actors Li Jun Li and Wilmer Valderrama (From Dusk till Dawn: The Series). Nick Zano (What I Like About You) and Laura Regan (Mad Men) will play Dash's siblings Arthur and Agatha, but don't actually appear in this episode. Original movie star Samantha Morton refused an offer to reprise her role as Agatha for television, of course. It doesn't take a Precog to tell you that would've been a bad career move!

What are your first impressions? It's bad. Worse than I was expecting, which is saying something. Philip K. Dick's celebrated stories seem to make good films (Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall) but television adaptations are much tougher. Although I have high hopes for Amazon's The Man in the High Castle later this year. The strange thing is, of all the amazing concepts Dick wrote about in his lifetime, Minority Report feels like the most suitable for the weekly demands of scripted television. Sadly, the film's questions about destiny and free will take a backseat in this pilot, which only really appears to exist so they can replicate some of Spielberg's augmented reality gadgets and futuristic vehicles. Whenever it tries to come up with its own ideas, we get floating 'selfie' cameras and pigeons you can remotely control with a glove.

Everything about this pilot is arduous to watch and conceptually lame, which is astonishing for a high-profile adaptation that has Spielberg signed up as an executive producer. The renowned director doesn't have a lot of success choosing good TV projects, but even the mediocre shows he's associated with (Falling Skies, Extant) have at least been competently made and are visually fun. Minority Report is just a horrible mess that feels like something the Syfy Channel would reject, if only because of its ear-bleeding music score.

There's zero chemistry between Meagan Good and Stark Sands, either—partly because their character's dynamic is that of a very experienced homicide detective from the city, and a naïve young man who's had little interaction with the world. There's certainly something to explore in their extreme differences, but this pilot doesn't find time to bother, or even hint that's going to be part of the show. Or even suggest it's going to be entertaining to see them solving crimes as partners. No, it's actually more concerned with blundering along its own dull storyline (involving an assassination attempt on the mayor), while continually referencing how weird the future is (junk food is healthy... um, passenger pigeons aren't extinct). The only genuine moment of amusement was seeing a Fox TV promo for "Season 75" of The Simpsons.

What's the prognosis? I'll be very surprised if Minority Report lasts for more than a season, on a channel that axed the infinitely more compelling Almost Human. It may not even last that long.

When does it premiere? 21 September on Fox. No UK broadcaster has bought this yet, but I'm going to predict Syfy will grab it when the bigger channels pass on it. Sky would be the most natural home, if it was a good version of what it wants to be, but on the evidence of this pilot it's not.