Dear Fox Network,
You and science-fiction television have a complicated past.
For years, the X-Files brought us aliens and monsters mixed with good story, flourishing as best it could on your network.
In time, you decided to give Joss Whedon a shot at another television show. You launched Firefly in a scatter-shot of episodes, the serialized story getting lost by being aired out of order and at changing times.
Firefly was treated like a spaceship losing fuel and about to explode as it was sucked into a black hole, instead of a series which could potentially revitalize tales taking place among the cosmos (thankfully, Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who have since helped ease this burden.)
And then came Fringe.
This show was treated better, the episodes broadcast in order. It seemed a lesson on releasing more sci-fi into the universe had been learned. Even when ratings lacked strength, you recognized the robust fandom, and let the show come to a satisfying conclusion at a respectable age of 5 seasons.
People had come to your network to experience the strange, the supernatural, the complicated stories involving John Noble being an awesome actor, the chemistry between the two leads.
And so, in the 2013 television season, you bestowed upon the world two science fiction series: Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human.
First, thank you for adding more good sci-fi to television. I believe I speak for many nerds, geeks, and other fans of the weird, supernatural, and technological, when I say we always can use one more show that blends the spectacular with good storytelling.
Thus far, both of these shows contain:
- Good characters who actually have chemistry
- Suspenseful, engaging storytelling
- A diverse cast
- Inventive use of sci-fi/fantasy elements
- A handsome lead actor
However, Sleepy Hollow is being treated even better than Fringe. It is being set out in the middle of the garden, being carefully pruned and watered as it grows a robust and ardent fanbase. (They also both have John Noble. Definitely a plus).
Almost Human, on the other hand, is receiving the same treatment as Firefly. It is being pushed into a dark corner where it is neglected, receives little light, and then being asked why it does not grow.
With a combination of a consistent time-slot, a serialized story-line that is being shown in order, and strong chemistry between the lead characters, Sleepy Hollow is doing just fine. During the 13 episode first season, it has achieved a 4.4 rating among adults 18-49, and between 6-7 million viewers per week. In a world of DVR and online video, these numbers are impressive.
Sleepy Hollow has earned its success. The storylines are suspenseful, engaging, and embrace plot lines and monsters that if pushed just a little further, would be completely over the top. The show works by being grounded by the two lead characters, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and police Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and their odd-couple chemistry. Not only do they respect each other, they actually reveal to each other essential information.
Any show that can make a good narrative out of the apocalypse, demons, and a Revolutionary War soldier who has woken up in modern America is impressive. In fact, Sleepy Hollow is a great successor to Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Almost Human is a great television adaptation of Blade Runner. While the early episodes feel like a typical cop show with a few shiny things thrown in to make it sci-fi, the later episodes take modern technology and ethical questions and push them into the future. The two lead characters, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) and his android partner Dorian (Michael Ealy), have as great of chemistry as Crane and Mills of Sleepy Hollow. As their relationship develops, Dorian’s ability to feel emotions, to sympathize, to care, pushes Kennex’s beliefs and his patience. What could be a flat, “look at this shiny tech of the week” show is quickly becoming nuanced, suspenseful, and intriguing. Most episodes are like a short movie, taking the audience at a breakneck pace until a compelling conclusion.
The show’s progression and improvement, however, are obscured because it is being aired out of order.
As mentioned, Sleepy Hollow is doing fine in the ratings, and will rise up again next fall to take us on another thrilling ride toward the apocalypse. Almost Human, however, is bleeding battery fluid and may barely make it to the end of its first season.
So, Fox Network, I am asking justice for a good show with great potential. I am asking for you to not only grant Almost Human a second season, but also to air the second season in order. If it fails, let it fail by its own merits. If it succeeds, you will have the opportunity to add another successful panel to Comic Con.
Or, in the words of one of the most passionate of current fan bases: “Six seasons and a movie.”
Someone who watches far too much television. Especially sci-fi television.
P.S. Thank you for putting us and The X-Factor out of its misery.
Have you watched either show? What shows have you loved that have been gone too early? What shows should have left before hand? Would you rather hang out with Karl Urban as Doctor McCoy, Eomer from Lord of the Rings, or as Detective Kennex? Is anyone else glad Ichabod Crane got some fresh clothes during the last two episodes (still period, but at least new)?
A review of a great Almost Human episode form roboheartbeat.com
And an overall review of Almost Human from The Triple Option
A review of “Disrupt” from Almost Human, from Channel Chelsea
Questioning the historical accuracy of Sleepy Hollow’s portrayal of the Revolutionary War from History and Ancestry
Theology In Skinny Jeans from Thinker For Hire
A review of “The Golem” episode from Sleepy Hollow, from Lady Geek Girl And Friends
19 thoughts on “Fox Network, Please Treat “Almost Human” Better Than Firefly (But, Thanks For Sleepy Hollow)”
Really enjoying ‘Almost Human’. I was thinking of Firefly and Terra Nova when I heard it was hitting FOX. Hope it lasts.
I’m pulling for Almost Human too. Despite my love of dinosaurs, I never found Terra Nova compelling. It got caught up in empty drama and too much ‘ooh, look’.
I was hoping it would get a second season only to get to a bigger story. They really didn’t have enough dinosaurs. I guess it came off as a very long prologue for a bigger story.
Great post, and very true. I’m loving Sleepy Hollow, though haven’t seen Almost Human yet (but definately will as it has Karl Urban in it, *swoon* ).
Karl Urban definitely adds to everything he is in.
I don’t have time to sit and watch much, but I’ve enjoyed Almost Human a bit more than Sleepy Hollow. The one I make time for is Once Upon a Time on ABC.
I think Sleepy Hollow is a little more ridiculous than Almost Human.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this season of Once Upon A time and how the writers are going to work with the twists that happened before the winter break.
Thanks for the link love!
Does Almost Human offer anything new after all the ways Start Trek series explored androids and robots?
Glad to share good posts.
I think it has the ability to explore androids and robots more in depth than Star Trek, and add modern technology and advances. Star Trek has dealt well with androids, but that was also a smaller element in the shows.
Thank you for the link. I couldn’t agree more. As much as I enjoy Almost Human, the airing order of episodes is driving me crazy. It hurts the overall arc of the show/continuity and makes character growth seem all over the place. Great article!
Thanks! At some point, I hope it’s on Netflix just so I can watch the episodes in order and see how the show unfolds.
I started watching Almost Human but after about 3 eps I didn’t go back. Maybe I’ll give it another shot. Your review of SH makes me want to binge watch it!
I did find a great sci fi series on Netflix and went through the 2 seasons in one weekend: Continuum — time travel, technology, conspiracy, strong female lead. I loved it! Season 3 starts in March, I think.
I haven’t seen Continuum yet. I’ll have to check it out. As for Sleepy Hollow, it is a very binge-watch-worthy show.
If you check it out you’ll have to let me know what you think. 🙂
I’ve been curious about Almost Human but haven’t checked it out yet. Does Dorian get any rights? Just how close is it to the Caves of Steel?
First, I haven’t seen Caves of Steel. Second, the later-filmed episodes show Dorian getting more autonomy within the police precinct, but the show also does a good job of reminding the audience that he is still an android and piece of machinery.
The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov and I strongly recommend it. Asimov wound up inventing the robot cop genre – it’s like what Frankenstein to science fiction.
I love the show “Almost Human” and was so disappointed to hear they were canceling it. It barely had a chance to make a splash. The story line was fresh, and I agree–the two leads had great chemistry. I hope it can be saved, but it looks bleak.
Hopefully, other networks can learn from Fox’s mistakes and give a better foundation for other sci-fi shows.