Humans: First Impressions

Gemma Chan as conscious synth Anita/Mia in the sci-fi series, Humans.

We’ve explored the benefits and dangers that machines present in such Hollywood films as Bicentennial Man and The Terminator Franchise, but after watching the series premiere of Humans Tuesday night, I feel that this series will do so much more – it will bridge the benefit/danger element and delve into the debate of not only what it means to be human, but the giving of rights to things we do not necessarily deem human. Deep, I know.

Based on the Swedish series Real Humans, Humans is framed around the five-strong Hawkins family and their varying relationships with synth, Anita. Of course, it’s not as simple as this, with the shady government (and its equally shady characters) hunting down four sentient or conscious ‘synths’ deemed to be a threat to the future of humankind, of which Anita is one.

In a society where you can buy a synth with a 30 day return policy, programme it to act (or should I say serve?) in any way you see fit as a primary or secondary user, it is nice to see that there are conscious synths who are human in almost every way – they can think and feel – and were built by a Dr. David Elster (Stephen Boxer).

It is also nice to see that synths have developed relationships with humans. William Hurt’s character Dr. George Millican comes to mind with his caregiver synth Odi. Outdated junk that needs to be recycled according to the health service lady, Millican is not prepared to give Odi up and has embraced him glitches and all. But I wonder how he’ll get on when the NHS rocks up with his new six-years-overdue “D series model”.

The same goes for The Adventures of Merlin‘s Colin Morgan, who plays Leo Elster, the son of Dr David Elster, who built the conscious synths. He’s looking out for the conscious synths and by the looks of it seemed to have a bit of a thing going with Anita.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the conscious synths will fair throughout the series, so stay tuned, I’ll be back with a final review in seven weeks!

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Indian Summers: A Review

I was prepared to throw in the towel with Indian Summers when it first premiered, but I’m glad I stuck around for the explosive series finale.

Things didn’t look promising for the British drama series in my first impressions, where it appeared the only thing that would keep me watching were Ralph Whelan’s (Henry Lloyd-Hughes)secrets. They did, but my interest in the series ended up being greater than that. It was the superb writing by Paul Rutman and his fantastic array of colourful characters.

I had my suspicions as to Ralph Whelan’s character from the start, but the hour-and-a-half long finale Sunday left me in no doubt – he’s a nasty, albeit good-looking, piece of work looking out for number one. Whelan will say and do anything on his way to the top, even letting Ramu Sood (Alyy Khan), an innocent man, hang for Jaya’s murder, whilst enjoying a game of cricket! The gall of the man!

Sure, I’ll admit I felt sorry for him at times thanks to Julie Walters’ Cynthia and her games, but too much of her conniving rubbed off on him, clearly. Such was my satisfaction when she was knocked off her perch by none other her boy Whelan. He really was rakshas, thanks to Rutman’s writing and Henry Lloyd-Hughes acting.

The love story that developed between Aafrin (Nikesh Patel) and Alice (Jemima West), albeit a little tortured, added a depth to the series that belied the racial discrimination put forth by what seemed to be the remainder of British socialites in Simla. It was nice to see Alice finally happy and Aafrin overcoming a few, not all, of his inner demons. However, I feel the future will only entail a bit of history repeating itself, if and when Whelan finds out about the pair.

It was a shame that Leena (Amber Rose Reeva) and Dougie’s (Craig Parkinson) relationship didn’t move more than just past being teacher and missionary at the mission school, despite Dougie’s heroic outcry to protect Leena during Ramu Sood’s trial. Against all odds, it would have been nice to see the pair together, especially after the departure of Dougie’s wife Sarah (Fiona Glascott) in the series finale (thank God!). I’m keeping my fingers-crossed that they’ll become an item in series two 😛

Both Ian McLeod’s bond with Ramu Sood and Aafrin’s relationship with Alice symbolise a ray of hope for Simla and India’s independence, at least to me anyway. It was great to see Britain’s colonialist ways at the forefront of the series, cast in a almost balanced light by Rutman – not entirely persecuting the British history and not pandering to it either by omitting India’s history and characters.

Writer Paul Rutman has said he intends Indian Summers to be a five series arc, so I’m hoping that this becomes a reality.

A superb series with an even more superb cast of characters, I’m looking forward to series two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Odyssey: First Impressions

Anna Friel as U.S. Army Sergeant Odelle Ballard in the NBC thriller American Odyssey.

I saw the trailer for the NBC thriller American Odyssey on YouTube a while back and took note to watch it when it eventually made its way to New Zealand shores.

Well, four months behind its premiere in the U.S., American Odyssey premiered here in New Zealand last night.

And what a premiere it was, getting straight into the story of U.S. Army Sergeant Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) and her journey to stay alive after her team is murdered whilst on a secret mission in Mali, following their discovery that major U.S. company, SOC, has been funding Islamist terror groups.

The premiere unveiled a web of lies and corruption high up in the U.S. Army and business world that is sure to unravel as the series continues. The ‘good guys’ were separated from the ‘bad guys’ almost from the word go, and it’s clear that Ballard and her allies back home – former U.S. State Attorney Peter Decker (Peter Facinelli) and G8 protest organiser Harrison Walters, played by Jake Robinson, are in for a conspiracy-filled ride.

And let’s not forget about Aslam and the news team at Al Jazeera.

From watching the first episode, it appears as if the world is against Ballard and her allies, with high-ups in the U.S. Army and SOC spinning a web of lies about the demise of Ballard and Task Force 24 on the homefront.

This makes for a promising watch (yes, I know, things don’t bode well because the series has been cancelled) so stay tuned, I’ll be back at the end of the series with a review.

In the meantime, I hope she guards that pen drive!

 

 

 

 

 

Forever: A Review

Ioan Gruffudd and Joel David Moore as Dr Henry Morgan and Lucas Wahl in the ABC drama Forever.

The critics didn’t seem to peg Forever well right from the get-go, and that’s probably why it didn’t get a second season.

Maybe it was the immortality, or lack of interest in Dr Henry Morgan’s English charm?

Either way, I still enjoyed this series.

Sure, it had it’s moments, and ending on a cliffhanger was not the way to go. A flash forward to see how Jo handled the “It’s a long story” wouldn’t have been too much to ask, would it?

Other than that peeve, I don’t really see how a second series could have panned about.

The storylines were all wrapped up: Burn Gorman’s character, known only as “Adam” had been defeated, the mystery surrounding Abigail’s (MacKenzie Mauzy) disappearance had been solved and we knew that Henry would continue being his old Sherlock-y Medical Examiner self, solving crime in his 200-year-old style with Detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza) and Detective Mike Hanson (Donnie Keshawarz) in tow, with Abe (Judd Hirsch) close behind to keep him out of trouble (or should I say in trouble?).

Well, for those who are yet to fall in love with Henry’s English charm, 200-year-old manners (and views?), pocket watch and waistcoat (or already have and don’t mind a refresher), here’s a bit of a down-low on what Forever is all about:

It’s 1814 and Dr Henry Morgan is shot dead on his father’s slave trading ship for trying to free slaves. Flash forward to modern day New York and Henry is a Medical Examiner, solving crime and trying to navigate a perplexing never-ending existence, when Detective Jo Martinez and Adam enter the picture. Keeping his secret just got harder…

It was great to see Torchwood‘s Burn Gorman as the villain Adam, a formidable fellow immortal who just happens to have been around the block a bit more than Henry (for 2000 years), and all the more darker for it. Gorman gave a superb performance, so much so that I wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley anytime soon. With his gravelly voice and a particular talent at pressing all of Henry’s buttons, his beef with Henry was what really had the story moving. You never knew what kind of sadistic game he’d play with Henry next. And after all, what scares an immortal more than knowing that the game might be up.

Ioan Gruffudd was absolutely amazing in his role as Dr Henry Morgan. I quickly fell in love with Henry’s eccentricity and a certain panache that came from being a man out of time. Sure, he did his best to adapt in his survival, but with his characteristic dapperness, manners and views he was the “same old Henry”. His rather philosophical and self-reflective narration at the opening and closing of every episode (which usually centered around purposeful and accidental deaths) added a poignant depth to the series.

What I can describe only as a crime procedural with a 200-year-old character thrown in, Forever was a thoroughly enjoyable watch with enough mystery, villainry and deaths, you’ll forget my grumblings about cliffhangers and the fact that there’s no second season.

Don’t believe me? Check out the trailer below: