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Tag Archive: Almost Human


Persona Synthetics ad

Our Sci-Fi Summer previews seem like they are just getting started.  We’re previewing eight new sci-fi series this week, saving our pick for what looks like the best for last.  Next up: Humans, a new series coming soon from AMC, is the next take on The Stepford Wives.  As with 2013-14’s brilliant but short-lived Fox TV series about a world with borgs fully integrated into society called Almost Human, this latest look at cybernetic organisms of the future focuses on the problems with these new servants living among humans.  Eight episodes of Humans are coming our way this summer on AMC.

AMC (and England’s Channel 4) are having some great fun marketing the series.  Below you’ll find several previews for the series (both U.S. and British versions) as well as spots from the company that creates the new technology within the series (much like we saw from RoboCop with Omnicorp here, and from Prometheus, the David 8 ad from Weyland Corp, discussed here).  Just see the Persona Synthetics website here.  Set in London, where every family wants the latest gadget for the home, a Synth, a highly-developed, artificially intelligent human look-alike.

Humans AMC line

What stands out immediately is the lack of special effects in comparison to a similar genre series idea like Almost Human.  Almost Human was not able to survive with an expertly told story, a movie star lead in Karl Urban, and dazzling futuristic effects.  The Synths are humans, seemingly unmodified except for contact lenses.  It’s understandable that brilliant technology makes them look so real, and adds to the creepiness in the look of the show, but there’s definitely an element missing here.  And the fact that each Synth is different, instead of several duplicates seems to point more to production budgets than a clever sci-fi story device.

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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borg-label hall-of-fame-label

After climbing over our 1,000th daily post at borg.com this week, it’s time to update the borg.com Hall of Fame, with borg in genre fiction from past, present, and future, and from all media.  Click here for our “About” page if you need a refresher on what makes a borg a borg.

Some of these more than two dozen borg inductees were overlooked in our initial list.  A few may or may not be borg, depending on your point of view.  Robots or androids that look perfectly human, for example, that have organic looking material but may not have actual living tissue are not technically cyborgs.  But if Cylons are borg, we think most of the characters below should be considered borg, too.

So here is Round 2, the 2014 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order:

harrycobra photo on flickriver of Mike Power

Mike Power, the Atomic Man from the 1970s.  We hope he shows up again in this year’s The Six Million Dollar Man, Season 6, from Dynamite Comics.

Borg HOF TMNT Slayer becomes Rat King in 2003 animated series

In the 2003 animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was revealed the Rat King was once the Slayer, a bio-mechanical super soldier prototype.

Borg HOF Vandroid

From Dark Horse Comics’ 2014 comic book series, we have Vandroid.  Chuck Carducci is a mechanic.  Chuck is also an android created by Chuck, but does he have any humanity?  This one is just out so we’ll know for sure soon whether Vandroid is a borg or not.

Borg HOF Manborg

From the low-budget sci-fi B-movie, we reviewed Manborg here at borg.com back in 2013.

Skektek

From the classic fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, it’s SkekTek the Skeksis scientist who had multiple bionic parts.

Borg HOF Almost Human Kennex and Dorian

From 2013’s new TV series Almost Human, Karl Urban’s detective John Kennex (who has a cybernetic leg) is a borg, but is his partner, Michael Ealy’s out-dated android Dorian?  The newer model police officers appear to be androids only, but is there any organic part, any living tissue, in Dorian?

Borg HOF Almost Human cyborg prostitute

Almost Human features a society full of androids (including the prostitute, above)–some with illegally-trafficked actual human skin–real skin, which, of course, makes them borg.  We don’t know if Dorian has any organic material yet.

Borg HOF cybernetic Gunslinger from A Town Called Mercy Doctor Who

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Sherlock season 3 promo

Happy New Year!!!

So what do we do now?  How about a look at the start dates for our favorite TV shows?  Many are already in progress, like Almost Human, Arrow, Dracula, Grimm, Major Crimes, The Michael J. Fox Show, New Girl, and Sleepy Hollow.  Some don’t have new season premiere dates yet, like Bates Motel, Continuum, Doctor Who, Heroes of Cosplay, Mr. Selfridge, and Warehouse 13.

The most anticipated series is very likely the three-episode third season of Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, finally coming back to PBS this month.

The biggest question is whether Haven will get renewed for a fifth season on Syfy.  The end of Season 4 was really getting better and Syfy just can’t leave us with that cliffhanger finale.

Haven - Season 4

Update yours DVRs!  Here’s what we’re going to be watching in 2014 at borg.com:

Almost Human –  Season 1 continues January 6 on Fox

Arrow – Season 2 continues January 15 on CW

Bates Motel – Season 2 begins in March to A&E

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Miss Fury Dynamite Comics

We tried on for size almost every new book that was released from comic book publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archaia/BOOM!, and Image.  We tried to sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics had to offer, too, and although we didn’t have enough time to review everything we did try to put out there for your consideration those titles we thought our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro bent.  Our pull list included issues from Afterlife with Archie to Django Unchained, from Liberator to Larfleezeand from Velvet to The X-Files.  This past month we have reviewed the year-long run of the best of these titles, as we narrowed our selections to 21 of the very best entries in genre entertainment outside of TV and movies, which we revealed here yesterday.  So here are the rest of our picks for the Best of 2013.

Kane Starkiller borg by Mike Mayhew

Best Borg Appearance — Kane Starkiller, The Star Wars.  Borgs showed up everywhere this year, from the lead characters on Almost Human, to Doctor Who, to countless comic book series including Justice League and RoboCop.  Our favorite appearance came from the young mind of George Lucas as he created the original script that would later be edited into the original Star Wars trilogy.  And through Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars monthly comic book event we learned one of his best ideas was merged into other roles and one of his best characters entirely cut.   That character was Jedi Kane Starkiller, who would reveal his cyborg chest implants that kept him alive, later to heroically give up this life-saving technology to save his friends.

MissFury001-Cov-Renaud

Best Comic Book Series — Miss Fury, Dynamite Comics.  A uniquely crafted tale, a compelling and seductive superhero, great action panel after panel, sourced in a long-shelved classic character of the Golden Age of comics.  Rob Williams and Jack Herbert’s Miss Fury is a carefully rendered update that rings true to the edgy spirit of the world’s first female superhero.  Beautiful panels set up an ever-changing time and place and pull readers along for the ride.  And stuck-out-of-time Marla Drake and her alter ego Miss Fury could not have looked better, whether carving out her place in the 1940s or as she was teleported into the future.  It’s a series no one should miss.

Clint Barton Hawkeye by Fraction

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Fraction, Hawkeye.  Last year revealed one of the best comic book series we ever read, focusing on that “other” superhero archer, the second tier Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.  Matt Fraction gave us the most interesting set-up and look into the daily life of a superhero who isn’t Captain America or Iron Man.  This year he kept up the momentum in his Hawkeye monthly series, providing stories that challenged readers, each issue taking a different peek into Clint Barton, another costumed superhero called Hawkeye, and their trusty dog.

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Almost Human partners

This year’s TV series Almost Human had the potential to be a big hit, with movie star Karl Urban as one of the two lead actors, and a classic sci-fi plot that looked like it would mix RoboCop, Alien Nation, Blade Runner, and Total Recall.  After a fun but uncertain pilot episode, it has managed to deliver each week the kind of science fiction stories that are stuff of classic TV.  Almost Human isn’t just sci-fi, it’s a full-blown police procedural drama, and a good old-fashioned buddy cop show to boot.

The series centers on megastar-film actor Karl Urban’s future cop, Detective John Kennex.  Kennex is a grumpy guy with baggage, a past encounter gone bad resulted in the death of his partner and the need for a cybernetic leg.  Early detractors of the series likened his Kennex too much to his similarly gruff Doctor McCoy from the new Star Trek movies.  It’s a fair comparison.  But we don’t care.  They are both great characterizations and the miserable, tough guy routine is separable and fun to watch, especially Kennex’s banter with co-star Michael Ealy as almost human robot cop Dorian, an android of a decommissioned type who has become Kennex’s partner.  In fact, the buddy cop routine will make you think of your favorite buddy cop shows, in the league of Alien Nation, Adam-12, Life on Mars, Hot Fuzz, Dragnet, Life, White Collar, and Starsky and Hutch.

Almost Human buddy cops

This week’s episode was emblematic of why the series is destined to continue as long as the network will let it.  The writers basically took the plot from a classic episode of Law and Order about pacemakers being refurbished and placed in new people.  Here, that concept is blended with a current political item: what happens if there is no Affordable Care Act in the future, and a current element of technology some people use every day: the prepaid cell phone.  So how did the writers put it all together?

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Almost Human future cop

With the new RoboCop movie coming in 2014 and the new series Almost Human coming November 17, you’re about to get a good dose of cyborg cops.  J.J. Abrams and Fringe’s J.H. Wyman are bringing the Vancouver production of Almost Human our way with mega-sci-fi star Karl Urban, and documentary filmmaker José Padilha is helming a big cast of classic sci-fi stars in RoboCop.

RoboCop armor

The latest trailer is now out for the new RoboCop.  Every movie is better with Samuel L. Jackson, and his speech shown in this preview is a great way to reel us all in.  And Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman?  What more could you want?  Check it out:

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Fall TV banner

Now that the major networks have revealed their new TV series for the Fall line-up, what of the new series is worth adding to your must-watch list?  While we’re curious about the new offerings from the cable networks, we see many reasons to at least try out the pilot for several series, based on the genre, the subject, or the inclusion of some of our favorite actors.  We previewed Marvel’s Agents of Shield last week from ABC, and no other series looks to have as much appeal for genre fans as more Joss Whedon and Marvel characters.  But we’ve found 15 of the two dozen new series that have some reason to take notice, many with trailers that have been released with the announcements.  But be warned, despite some great actors, many of these previews look pretty bad and we’re only posting the trailers for you to judge for yourself.  if you want to save time, go directly to the previews for Almost Human, The Michael J. Fox Show, Dracula, and Sleepy Hollow, which look like the best of the new series the Fall has to offer–at least from the networks.

ABC

Moving past Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the reason you might give Back in the Game a try is because of the lead, Psych’s Maggie Lawson, as well as James Caan.  It looks like a comedy version of Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve.  As much as we like Lawson and Caan, we’ll probably skip this one.  Check it out for yourself:

ABC also has a spinoff of its Once Upon a Time series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland We gave Once Upon a Time a try in its first season and it held our interest for several episodes because of series lead Jennifer Morrison, but an Alice in Wonderland spinoff?  The trailer makes this look better than Once upon a Time and it looks like more of a sequel than a real tie-in to Once Upon a Time.  And it does have John Lithgow playing the White Rabbit.  Check it out:

NBC

The only reason we’ll mention Welcome to the Family is because of lead Mary McCormack, who we loved on In Plain Sight.  Other than that it looks like just another Parenthood series with an overdone culture-clash theme.  Here’s the trailer:

Michael J. Fox is returning to TV with The Michael J. Fox Show.  On paper the description of this show looked almost cringe-worthy:  a series about a celebrity named Mike returning to TV who left to deal with his Parkinson’s.   But then you watch the trailer and only Michael J. Fox could make this look hilarious.  This series may be a very big win:

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