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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I see the future and it looks rather... muted #MinorityReport #3WeekRoundup #PremiereWeek

I see the future and it looks rather... muted #MinorityReport #3WeekRoundup #PremiereWeek

All pictures courtesy of FOX 

So much to say, yet few words to say it with. FOX's Minority Report (#MinorityReport) is a difficult show to pin down. On the one hand, it has all the cool futuristic sci-fi tech that many of us hope to have come 50 years from now. That alone can draw a geek in for a few episodes. On the other hand, it has a plodding mystery so glacial-like in its movement that its hard to see it as a mystery or half care about it. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's begin at the beginning.

Again, I mention that for those of you not in the know, I wait to watch the first three episodes of a new show before making my ultimate judgment on if I'll continue watching that show. That means I will be having a ton of work to do blog-wise this week as this is the third official week for the new fall season. You can expect a review of Blindspot later on today and Limitless even later. For now, we focus on Minority Report. Also, as a refresher on why I looked forward to this show just click the #PremiereWeek link up top and scroll down to FOX (the first section I believe). But in short, I liked it because it was based on a Spielberg movie and had him as an executive producer behind it.

To begin, the show is a sequel to the Tom Cruise movie as I previously mentioned (if you haven't seen it then you should rent or buy that from somewhere because it is definitely worth a watch). While the movie trailed a future cop on the run with an unusually gifted young girl, the show pairs her youngest brother with a cop bent on solving crimes in part because of her father's death--he also was a cop.

The series began with Dash--the precog who can see crimes happening in the future--receiving the vision of a woman being thrust out of her apartment window and plummeting to her death. Though he tries to stop this crime, he's too late when he darts into the wrong apartment building and finds a Tai Chi or Yoga class going on in the room number where the woman is supposed to live. Hoping to be of some help, he scopes the crime scene, discovers who the woman is working the case, tracks her down and gives her information on what he knows while staying as disconnected from her as possible. No introduction, no exchanging of phone numbers, not even a proper handshake, he instead injects her with some kind of local muscle relaxant to paralyze her from chasing him--the same drug he used on his facial muscles to disguise himself. She can't let this go.

The detective, played by Meagan Good, is name Vega. Not a slouch, she works very closely with her lieutenant/captain boss and ex-lover played by Wilmer Valderrama (yeah, he's back on TV and it's kinda cool). One of the lead detectives in her department, she uses the high-tech facilities to find the identity of the guy who gave her useful information on the crime. She is helped by her female geek/nerd tech girl who seems to work in that department completely alone but it's the future so I can understand fewer people needed to do the work of a machine. And while FOX does get brownie points here for hitting the minority trifecta--Latino, Black woman, and Asian woman--some of those points are taken away because of the fact that they made the Asian woman the smart geeky tech.

With her small team, she manages to track Dash down, though she keeps his identity a secret. He confesses to being precisely what she theorized, a precog, and gives her more info on another crime soon to happen. While Vega manages to track down the first criminal, he dies from a falling beam right after saying something big is about to happen. At first I thought he was referring to a bigger mystery to run through the show, but in hindsight I'm not sure he wasn't just talking about the infecting of birds with a viral strain that would kill a crowd of people at the outside launch of a new technology called Hawk-eye. A new computer program, it comes into effect on the third episode and is essentially Big Brother and the Patriot Act on steroids, able to monitor and flag your every behavior and predict future actions based on a probability rating. It can also do things such as shut down your car and restrict your driving, and have your doctor-patient confidentiality waived if you end up on the restrictions list, but I am getting too ahead of myself again.

Back to the first mystery, the birds attack was choreographed by a past precrime worker upset at the fact that he lost everything after the division shuttered. One of the men that was in charge of the entire operation has moved on to greener pastures and is the brain (or money or both) behind the new Hawk-eye system which does a similar job to the precogs. He is the villains target.

Dash and Vega find the bad guy and stop him but not without some help from Dash's twin brother--older by a few minutes. Originally slated to be an identical twin and to be played by the same actor as Dash, the brother looks insanely different. He looks more mature, has a boxier face and exudes suaveness. After his time spent in the "milk bath" that enhanced the three siblings powers to have the visions, he spent his life trying to monetize his gift, accomplishing that both in legal and illegal ways. Why does Dash need to contact him? Because unlike their older sister Agatha, Dash and his brother Arthur are a team. Dash gets the visions while Arthur gets details like names, addresses, times, etc. Embittered towards the police for his and his siblings time spent locked in the cellar of precrime, he only helps after his brother makes a promise to do something for him.

The crime is quickly solved and the man and his accomplice daughter are both brought to justice; however, Dash accidentally kills the man by pushing him from a height while trying to save Vega's life. Though the show tries to display some moral gravitas here, the writers throw up their hands and pretty much conclude that, "eh, he was a bad guy," before moving on their merry way. That was the first episode.

Sticking to what I thought it'd be, Minority Report does become a weekly procedural where they are given a case of the week to solve before the hour is over. And while that may be what dominates the show, producers hope you come back for the secondary mystery involving what the twins' sister Agatha sees. As the most powerful of the three siblings clinically born brain-dead to drug addicts, she receives not only the visions like her youngest brother, but the details like her oldest brother. Unique to her, she also sees multiple possibilities of what could happen depending on environmental variables. In other words, she knows that the future can change which is what the movie was about and the reason why precrime was outlawed. As of late, her visions have shown her and her brothers being re-submerged in the milk bath in the dungeon of precrime at D.C.'s HQ. The vision also suggests Vega has something to do with this new round of punishment as they see it. Unfortunately she lives out in the country somewhere on what she's termed "the island," and only interacts with her brother through hologram calls.

Is the mystery of how they get back into the vats of psychic juice great enough to keep me on the edge of my seat in anticipation for even the smallest clues? Not really. It doesn't hint at a greater catastrophe and hasn't really done much to enhance or impair the show. Honestly, it seems like filler similar to the first chapter of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or the last few chapters of the book--it's a nice side-story but you can take it away and the show loses nothing. In fact, I didn't even know they would show the sister after spending the entire movie dwelling on her. Funny thing, they didn't get the original actress to reprise her role though I thought she was quite good and is actually the same age as the current actress. She is set to appear in the Harry Potter spin-off film Fantastic Beasts...

The only connective strand they do have left over from the film is Wally the Caretaker who was the only person to see the faces of the siblings before the events of the film. A brilliant but frustrated scientist, he
recreated some of the precrime tech used on the siblings so Vega can see the visions within Dash's mind. It's a nice nod to the film and gives the show a legitimate way to continue the same vein of precognition work.
My grade for the series so far? I give it a B- to a C+. While I enjoy the future tech (funny, the profile compatibility thing was what I wrote about in my serial novel Unrequited near five years ago. It'll be out 2016), the overall aesthetic of the show and the producers bravery in trying to turn this concept film (based off a story by Philip K. Dick), I think they've missed the mark on many fronts.

First, the film explored the moral complexity of what precrime was and how to deal with it. The fact that things could change and be willfully altered both by the perpetrator on a personal level and on a machine level was where the movie got its namesake. A minority report was explained as the random times in which not all the siblings saw or experienced the same thing concerning a crime, thereby clouding the precognition process. In the show, not only is the moral weight seemingly absent but there's also a strange duality of spirit coming from Vega who willfully uses the abilities of Dash illegally but is skeptical of the Hawk-eye program which does essentially the same thing but through a behavioral predictive algorithm.

Then there's the characters which are not very rich or interesting to me, at least not as much as I thought they'd be. Dash is someone who has lived on the fringes of society ever since he and his siblings were released. While he shows some signs of ill adjustment, he isn't a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Asperger's savant or Rain Man genius or whimsically charming fish-out-of-water character like Ichabod on Sleepy Hollow, but more of a quiet guy who can be awkward every so often and sees visions of people getting murdered. Everything about him screams that he should be more maladjusted but isn't, which sometimes allows him to blend into the background and not on purpose from what I can gather.

Meagan Good's character of Vega I also find to be a little bland. She doesn't have the hard-nosed sex appeal of Kate Beckett on Castle nor the playful and witty banter of Booth on Bones nor the ability to diffuse a tense situation possessed by Abbie Mills on Sleepy Hollow. She, too, plays the straight man on a show that I'm not sure wants to be a straight crime show like CSI or Law and Order. And while I'd be perfectly fine with a crime show that doesn't focus heavily on the two main characters, the stories and crimes must then be the draw. Minority Report doesn't grab based on the crimes.

Should you be watching? Well, that's a hard one to say. While my first instinct is to say yes because of the B- score I gave it, I have a strong urge to say this is a take it or leave it show. If you enjoy the case of the week such as on the Mentalist, Castle, Bones etc., then you might like this but don't count on the crimes being anywhere near a level of sophistication. And while the science may draw you in, I doubt it'll keep you after the novelty wears thin. Though the Hawk-eye program and its possible failure and over-monitoring of the citizens looks to be a promising story-line to follow, I'm not convinced it, along with how the precogs end up in the goo again, can sustain a viewers interest when so much other stuff is on. 

The best thing about this show currently is that it comes on at 9pm on Mondays only on FOX which is perfect placement because it doesn't have much competition from other scripted shows (ABC and NBC both have reality shows and CBS has Scorpion), though the reality comps have proven themselves worthy juggernauts. If, however, this came on at 10 or 8, I think it might get killed and become a one season show. I haven't checked the ratings of any show yet so I don't know what is and isn't doing well but I can only hope the show picks up soon.

What do you think? Am I wrong and you're absolutely loving this show from start to finish? Have you tuned in to watch it or are you too busy with other things to be bothered? If you are watching, what is your take on the characters and the story about the siblings going back into the milk? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button to comment).

As always, check out my books on Amazon (if you’re looking for Halloween scares check  #AFuriousWind,  #DARKER#BrandNewHome or #ThePowerOfTen). For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The final episode of season one of The Writer is OUT NOW. Ahh! That’s right, all 15 episodes are out now available exclusively on Amazon. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right side.

Until next time, “do you remember what you forgot tomorrow?”

P.S. Yeah, I confused the hell outta you, didn't I? It's like that cell phone commercial where the guy builds a time machine so he doesn't have to wait to get the newest phone six months from now. You haven't seen that? Oh, you don't watch commercials anymore. I understand. Man, my main character in my latest book Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-boyfriend Cass Clinton might not like you.