The first thing that struck me about the pilot to Humans the new science fiction series from AMC, is that this is a show that has a lot of possible stories to tell. You know when you have a show that seems to have a limited shelf life, when it seems like they have only one real plot line, and you have no idea what they are going to do later on as the show moves onto its third or fourth season? This is one of those shows that has several balls in the same court, by only the first episode, and establishes a lot of characters, and a lot of story in just one episode.
The main theme of the show surrounds the nature of human like robots called Synth`s, who work as laborers, maids, and basically every other job that humans don’t want to do on their own. The story starts with a nice, British family who are having some difficulties, especially with the Mom (played by Katherine Parkinson) being gone at work frequently. The dad (Tom Goodman-Hill) decides to buy a domestic Synth, who the family decides to call Anita (Gemma Chan), to help with the cooking and cleaning, to give their family more time together. The family characters seem a little stock right now (cute little girl, hurried career mom, angsty teenage daughter) but, the thing about pilots are, the characters frequently aren’t very complex early on, so I am cutting them some slack. I`ll give them some more time to grow and become more interesting characters. Of course, the real highlight here is Chan, the robot girl who may or may not be a little bit…human. She perfectly manages to be both creepy, and calm and steady. A scene at the breakfast table early in the pilot is an especially creepy, but interesting moment. There, of course, a lot of other subplots, plots I don’t want to get into too much (beware of spoilers!), but they show a wide spectrum of both people getting too attached to their robots, and robots possibly getting too attached to humans, to…just watch it yourself.
My thoughts? I thought it was a good, solid pilot, but if it is going to succeed as a series (even a limited release series, with only eight episodes), it is going to have to find some new ground to make it stand out from the various “I Robot” esc books, movies, and TV shows. The “can robots feel emotions” trope has been around for a while, and anything that wants to discuss that now needs to be creative. Right now, what I hope it sticks with is making neither the robots or the humans the bad guys. Normally, we get evil robots, good humans (the Terminator movies), or evil humans, abused robots (AI: Artificial Intelligence), but here, it’s hard to tell who we are going to be rooting for, without getting too much into what happens in the pilot.
All in all, it looks great, has a haunting score, solid acting across the board, and seems to be laying the groundwork for a lot of interesting ideas and plots. I`ll be back for episode 2!