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In a dark, multi-cultural mega-city on Earth in 2070, David Hume, a smart dedicated human and Ian Farve, an advanced android of mysterious origins, are two detectives of Citizens Protection Bureau (CPB) who investigate crimes related to rogue or self-aware androids, advanced cyber technologies espionage and illegal genetic experiments conducted by a few powerful companies who literally rule the world.
Based on glowing 'must see' IMDb user comments (and in turn wanting to like it), I watched about half of the first season before giving up on this problematic series.
The biggest problem stems from the distant, restrained writing which leaves us with the shell of a typical cop show that's been relocated to a corporate-controlled future. Flat characters and low production values seal the series' fate, removing whatever potential might have otherwise remained.
As others have noted, comparisons to Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), and Star Trek: The Next Generation (at least as far as the Data-Farve android connection goes) are hard to avoid (and I am a fan of all three). The series has far more in common with the android-laden themes Blade Runner offers than with the Schwarzenegger movie with which it shares little more than a title and a few images. Thanks to user comments, I avoided comparing this series directly with the 'Recall' movie (as should you).
Poor writing remained the series stumbling block. Contention between man and machine (or android) gets touched on, but never gets fleshed out or fully explored. Det. David Hume and his wife Olivia both start the series out having deep-seated feelings against trusting androids, yet Hume's android partner Farve gets accepted by both with only a whimper, after which the issue gets shelved. In particular, Hume occasionally brings up trust issues with Farve, but moments later is willing to act as if he trusts him with his life. We briefly see Olivia deal with her android-related issues, but this seems to be largely forgotten in favor of relegating her to the typical 'cop's wife' role. Their relationship, including why they love each other and questions involving their history, is never expanded upon. The result is that Olivia's presence distracts from the plot, as opposed to revealing something about their respective characters. In another character switch, Assessor agent James Calley at first seems to support Hume (allowing him to keep an illegal weapon), only to later set up Hume to clean up his dirty work (when he kills 'The Technician'). Questions of whether androids are sentient beings are mentioned occasionally, but are never the focus, only serving as a plot smokescreen. Farve is taunted as being 'only a machine', but this question is forgotten before the next scene.
Lesser irritations surface throughout the series. Why is Det. Hume allowed to openly keep an illegal weapon? Why does he actively desire to keep such a weapon? With such prevalent communications, why don't the CPB officers contact Captain Ehrenthal when questions arise (the 'unauthorized surgery' scene from 'Brain Fever' comes to mind)? We hear about 'calling for backup', but rarely see more that Hume/Farve on screen. Farve seemed resilient to some weapons, but he avoids getting in the line of fire (as opposed to Data, who had a willingness to sacrifice himself so that humans might live). Sometimes we go wildly afield of any semblance of plot. Witness the superfluous sex scenes complete with nudity that established nothing other than a cheap grab for attention.
Scene footage reuse was fairly high. Several times I recognized an elevator CG shot, as well as the outside shot of CPB headquarters where the same two people enter the building. A reverse angle of a street scene previously shown would have slipped by had it not been for a rather recognizable extra in a dark tank top.
Scene retakes to avoid errors were not taken advantage of. Someone scanning a corpse accidentally catches the victim's collar. Elsewhere, a person's shadow moves in the background of an otherwise empty room. Other errors added to the sloppy feeling. In one scene, Farve's gun lights up but no CG shot comes out, an error that could have easily been edited out given that the previous several shots worked. Similarly, a spoiled voice-over for a reverse shot of Rawlings sounded jarringly different. These are errors that shouldn't have made it near the final edit.
Acting was mostly reasonable. The one big question in my mind came from casting Rawlings as Capt. Ehrenthal. His 'soft-spoken' approach just didn't seem to fit his character. His diminutive height was another issue, especially when standing next to Pruner. Based on other production shortcuts that were taken, the sporadic dips in acting quality could be attributed to not allowing for necessary retakes to enable the actors to hit their marks. Karl Pruner's interpretation of Farve captured almost completely Brent Spiner's Data of 12 years previous. In a continuation of the Farve-Data comparison, the series quickly focused on Farve trying to find his 'maker', just like Data did in 'Next Generation'.
I wanted to like this series - honest. I was hoping for one of those little-known gems that catches you off guard. Unfortunately, no amount of polish will bring any real shine to this series. The writers just didn't tackle any big issues, not to mention the low production values. This isn't to say that the series is completely without merit - it just doesn't warrant going to any great lengths to see. If you want to see a Sci-Fi series done (nearly) right, try Battlestar Galactica (2003).
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