Friday, August 28, 2015

Sci Fi TV Quick Hits: Fear the Walking Dead Shows Potential, Humans Disappoints, The Last Ship is Getting Quite Good

So Fear the Walking Dead has finally arrived and it looks like it could give us a decent backstory to the events that set up the world of The Walking Dead.  The premiere starts out giving us zombie-action right away as drug addict Nick wakes up from a bad trip to find his girlfriend (who we realize has turned into a Z) munching on some other unfortunate person.  Nick flees the scene and ends up getting hit by a car and taken to a hospital where his estranged family is called.  Some angsty family drama follows from that which really bogged the ninety minute premiere down, but slowly they started working their way back to the zombie origin story we are looking for and by the end of the episode things really started getting interesting.  I wouldn't be surprised if we get more of the family drama in the coming episodes because this show is not supposed to go full-zombie just yet.  Instead, we will get glimpses of the ensuing zombie-pocalypse from their perspective as it unfolds in its early days.  I'm hoping that the crew running the show will keep it from descending into Dawson's-Creek-meets-zombies, and their track record with TWD suggests that they will.  I'm definitely onboard with the show at this point, though not as excited for the next episode as I would be for a new TWD installment.  But as Fear the Walking Dead continues to grow, maybe I will find that I like this one just as much.

As for the show that just vacated the Sunday 9 PM EST on AMC, Humans, I just finished up watching that one on DVR and have to say that I am disappointed with it.  I had high hopes for this show thinking that it would explore some interesting speculative fiction ideas involving androids becoming more prevalent in society and also the rise of artificial intelligence.  But they really just skirted around those ideas and more often than not gave us Dawson's-Creek-with-robots and a bit of The Fugitive thrown in as well.  Some ideas about the androids' impact on a family's home were suggested early on (the child becoming more attached to the android than the parent, the husband having sex with the android, etc.) but never fully explored.  And instead of really delving into the AI angle, they gave us more of an "androids are people too" spin that left a lot of interesting ideas on the table.  I also had a hard time believing that the family would have risked all they did for these androids, especially after they learned that one of them was very dangerous.   I wouldn't call it a terrible show and the cast definitely did all they could with the material given them.  But Humans definitely underwhelmed and slipped too often into copy-and-paste.  And in the current sci fi overload environment I'm not sure I would make much effort to tune in to the show's second season (it will return in 2016) with so many other options available.

As for TNT's The Last Ship, that one is moving from the guilty pleasure category to becoming a damn good sci fi TV show.  It started out as basically G.I.-Joe-saves-the-world and gave us a more optimistic spin on the post-apocalyptic tale (as opposed to the grim vision of The Walking Dead and others) in which heroes emerge to give us hope for the future (go into that in more detail in the last edition of Sci Fi TV Quick Hits).  But it is now developing beyond that into a fairly well thought out story of how these heroes will help to rebuild the world and the show has also presented them with some interesting challenges to face.  The group of immunes who believe that they are the chosen ones to inherit the Earth present an intriguing set of antagonists that avoid (so far) television villain archetypes and give the crew of the Nathan James some moral dilemmas to deal with.  This show has never gone heavy on the moral quandaries, but it has thrown in its share and dealt with them pretty well.  I am still a few episodes behind on this one, but I am definitely enjoying and it appears to be developing into a well-rounded show that is realizing the potential of its premise and tackling some good stories.  Hopefully it can keep that up into its third season (which was announced just recently).

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