Last Sunday, Fox aired the long-awaited series premiere of Almost Human. Although the science fiction cop drama took in 9.1 million viewers in its first hour, the ratings dropped 29% to 6.6 million the next night. Regardless of this decline, Almost Human’s debut was solid enough to gather a positive buzz. Part of this success is attributed to the fact that J.J. Abrams is attached to the futuristic series.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Abrams talked about his involvement, and how the show was designed to evolve week-after-week. Although Abrams is a very busy man, overseeing the production of Star Wars: Episode VII and promoting his new novel S, the CEO of Bad Robot Productions still has time to produce for TV. While the keys to series rest in showrunner J.H. Wyman’s pants pocket, Abrams is ready and willing to help out with if he’s needed. Abrams explained:
I’m as involved as needed. The good news about having [showrunner Joel Wyman] on the show is it’s his pitch, his idea and he’s running the show. When we hear a pitch we like and develop a show — unless it’s something I’ve created and I’m either going to direct the pilot, or oversee or write — we don’t get involved with people who need to be babysat. We are there as necessary. We read scripts, give notes, watch cuts, and just help out however we can.
Wyman created Almost Human, but Abrams is the series producer. Although he isn’t involved the day-today operations in running a sci-fi TV show, the 47-year-old geek icon did contribute a few creative ideas to the overall story and narrative. Abrams continued:
There are things that happen in the show, all sorts of ideas that come out of conversations and things. There’s little moments and ideas here and there. When Joel was pitching the show, I got so enthusiastic. I loved The Six Million Dollar Man as a kid. The possibility of that as a kid was like candy. All of a sudden on the phone I was just spewing possible ideas of what it could be, and he was just laughing and spewing back. It wasn’t necessarily a specific moment or character, but I hopefully the cheerleader helped Joel do the show he pitched.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Almost Human develops and evolves. At its core, the structure is a crime procedural with different case-of-the-week episodes. In that respect, each installment will be fresh and new, when compared to the serialized episodes of a show like The Walking Dead. While Almost Human takes place in the not-too-distant future, the weekly stories will be relatable and familiar to general audiences. Abrams explained:
One of the opportunities about this show is it not only has characters that make you smile and laugh, and relationships that feel as unique as they are familiar, but its uniqueness comes from something that isn’t necessarily possible right now. Like any story-out-of-time, you want characters and situations where you go, “I know what that is. I know what that feels like. I know someone like that” — even though the person might be a different species. In this show, not only are the relationships unique, but the situations the characters find themselves in are equally unique. The paradigm is familiar, but the specifics are different.
Almost Human has the potential to be something special. The best thing going for the sci-fi cop drama is the relationship between the human, John Kennex, and his android partner Dorian, played by Karl Urban and Michael Ealy, respectively. If the writers and producers can keep that relationship interesting and new, then the series can virtually place its characters in any situation and the audience will enjoy watching it.
The next episode of Almost Human, “Are You Receiving?” airs on Monday, November 25, at 8/7c on Fox.