{TB Talks TV} Minority Report Review: “Pilot”

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Tweetable Takeaway: #MinorityReport starts out on weak legs as it tries to figure out what kind of show it is.

Airtime: Mondays at 9pm on FOX

By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

Tonight the pilot episode of airs on FOX. I don’t know about you, but when I heard they were adapting the film (based on a Philip K Dick short story) into a series, I was pretty excited. I like the film a lot. It has a great look and feel, borrowing lightly from Blade Runner (as a lot of great Sci-Fi does), and an entertaining story. I thought the series would look and feel a lot like the film, but unfortunately this version of Minority Report is a happy shiny looking future, seemingly discarding the look and complicated layered mystery that made the Spielberg film work so well.

If you don’t remember the movie, let me summarize it for you: In the year 2054, Tom Cruise is a detective in a “pre-crime” unit which uses the special powers of a group of precognitive psychics who can see the future, to arrest criminals before they commit crimes. Only Cruise is accused of a crime he did not, or would not have committed, and must go on the run and prove his innocence. Once “pre-crime” is proven to be able to be manipulated, it appears the future of the unit is in jeopardy.

The television series takes place 11 years later in the year 2065. The “pre-crime” unit has been shut down and the precogs (Agatha, and her twin brothers Arthur and Dash) have been hidden from society. Only Dash (Stark Sands) can’t shake the visions he has, and on his own unsuccessfully attempts to stop crimes before they happen. This leads him to cross paths with Detective Laura Vega (Meagan Good). They team up to stop the visions of murder Dash has before they happen.

They must work together outside of the law since “pre-crime” policing has been abolished. Vega’s character is fed up with just cleaning up after the murders. She wants to stop crimes before they happen, just like Dash does. With the help of Dash’s former caretaker Wally (Daniel London) from the “pre-crime” unit, they are able to use Dash’s gift to view images of the future.

Vega has a troubled past involving the death of her father, which is why she became a cop. Dash on the other hand has been basically banished with his siblings, with little to no interaction with the outside world. His sister Agatha wants him to come home to the safety of being withdrawn from the world, but Dash wants to use his gift for good. His brother Arthur is the opposite side of the coin, and has been out in the world using his precognitive abilities to enrich himself.

It appears Minority Report is going to be a procedural, with a mystery at its center that strings everything together. At one point a suspect tells Vega “You have no idea what’s coming, and you never will.” But I feel like they made it obvious, and maybe I’m way off base here, but the minute they introduce Dash’s brother Arthur it seems clear he’s the person pulling all of the strings of whatever is coming. I hope I’m wrong, because this would just be too obvious.

There doesn’t seem to be much layering of mystery in the pilot like there was in the movie, and nothing really grabbed my attention and made me want to tune in to see what happens next. The problem is, when your first episode hinges on a flock of mind controlled pigeons releasing a virus on a crowd at a politician’s campaign rally, it doesn’t really bode well for the series. This is the most exciting thing you could come up with right out of the gate?

I get it, pilots are a hard thing to nail. Setting up the world of a show needs to take place quickly so the story doesn’t get overburdened and bogged down by exposition. Too much exposition can be fatal, and the narrative needs to be balanced with character so it doesn’t lose our attention.

The pilot that airs tonight is a heavily retooled version that is vastly different than the one that leaked online earlier in the year. They’ve made a lot of changes to both the plot, and the tone. There are numerous whole new scenes, voice-overs, and characters. It helps a lot, and fixes some of the gapping plot holes. Unfortunately it can’t save the pilot from just being ok.

Tone is especially important when setting up a new show, and is the biggest stumbling block for the Minority Report pilot. I’m not sure they realize they’re doing it, but the show is incredibly campy. The awkward way Dash acts around people, Vega’s tough girl exterior, the possible work romance she’s had with Will Blake (Wilmer Valderrama), the acting, the corny jokes … it all lessens the impact of the show. There’s also one of the most awkward and terrible product placements I’ve ever seen in a show. Some music comes on in Vega’s home, and Dash turns to her and rattles off to her that the song is “Trouble” by Iggy Izalea and the name of all of the on the song. I cringed as it happened.

I’m not optimistic about this show. It has no idea what it should be, and instead squanders all of its promise to be merely mediocre. As is, Minority Report would be right at home on the CW alongside Supernatural, but at least Supernatural doesn’t take itself seriously.

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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates. Twitter: @OfSoundnVision

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