RogerBW's Blog

Minority Report 10 May 2016

2015 science fiction, ten episodes, sequel of sorts to the 2002 film. After the PreCrime programme is shut down, the three precognitives try to live normal lives. Of course, one of them ends up Fighting Crime.

That's the basic problem here, I think: given even the watered-down Dick of the film, there are a lot of places you could take a story like this, but the primary line of what Max Borenstein (screenwriter of the 2014 Godzilla remake) developed was, at least at the start, a very stock "she's a cop, he's a quirky not-a-cop" detective story with a futuristic setting.

If it hadn't been touted as a sequel to the film, that might actually not have been too bad. OK, it was broadcast on Fox, who are always readier to cancel SF series than anything else, but as a stand-alone it probably wouldn't have performed any worse than other Fox shows such as Almost Human, The Sarah Connor Chronicles or Dollhouse. But the name and the background meant that people were thinking of the film, which raised expectations the show was unable to meet. The initial 13-episode order was cut to 10 after the first three had been broadcast to collapsing ratings, and although even at the time of writing there hasn't been a formal announcement of cancellation one can't realistically expect it to come back.

If one can ignore memories of the film and calibrate one's expectations to standard TV SF, this does have occasional good spots. The first half of the season is mostly crime-of-the-week, allowing the viewer to get to know the characters, while the second half is built round an attempt to return the three precognitives to their drugged and passive state, to get them working full-time on seeing murders again, "justified" in part by a series of terrorist attacks (the visible face of these played by the always-excellent Christopher Heyerdahl).

The visual design of both sets and props is excellent, with lots of translucent display surfaces, and some good CG shots of the futuristic city. Shooting is generically dystopian, with excessive darkness and blue-tinting to remind us that we're in a Grim Future, with occasional bright colourful CGI-boosted outdoor scenes that actually work quite well. Acting is mostly adequate, with the standout for me being Li Jun Li as The Cop's technically-inclined friend on the force.

Scriptwriting, alas, is mostly uninspired, and the dynamic between the three precognitives never gels. There's too much standard procedural here and not enough of what makes the setting unique, or even interesting; it's television-making by the numbers with only occasional charming moments. Mixing up the ongoing plot with the very generic police show filler, and getting some better writers, might have generated more early interest and kept the thing alive.

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