‘Minority Report’ Series Premiere Review: A Pre-Cog in the Machine

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“Minority Report” is the latest movie-to-TV adaptation to hit the small screens, though I’m sure it won’t be the last. (Witness, for instance, the “Limitless” one airing tonight, also on CBS.) It is, however, the rare Spielberg film to make the transition, with the last one being the “Young Indiana Jones” series from way back, which I know of but have never seen. Unless you count the “Poltergeist” spin-off, I suppose, but that was based on a movie he produced but didn’t direct, though some might tell you otherwise.

Not that this is Spielberg’s first foray into TV by any means, anyway, with his having dabbled in the form from time to time, with stuff like the “Taken” mini-series, and more recently, the shows “Under the Dome” and “Extant,” both of which were on CBS as well, and the decent summer series “The Whispers,” on ABC and “Falling Skies” on TNT. Of course, one thing all of these shows have in common is a strong sci-fi influence, so it’s not surprising that CBS would go back to that particular well yet again.

What this show does have going for it beyond the sci-fi thing, however, is a strong black female lead, which is almost unheard of in sci-fi, to the best of my knowledge. Sure, there was the groundbreaking Uhura character, on the granddaddy of all modern sci-fi shows, “Star Trek,” as played by Nichelle Nichols, but she wasn’t the lead character, by any means. Here, we have the gorgeous and capable Meagan Good, as Lara Vega, in what couldn’t be better timing, given that no less a talent than Viola Davis just name-checked her in her historic Emmy’s win last Sunday. So, that’s an undeniable positive, and a really welcome development in the subgenre.

Also worth a mention is the ethnically-diverse cast in general, all of which are in leading roles, including “That 70’s Show” and “From Dusk Till Dawn” alum Wilmer Valderrama as Lt. William Blake (see what they did there?), Good’s character Vega’s immediate superior- and possible past love interest; as well as her right-hand woman, Akeela (Li Jun Li, “The Following,” “Damages”), who is of the Asian persuasion. Granted, all of the pre-cogs are white, but that’s sort of a necessary evil, as that was the case in the film version. Still, I’d call half of the six main cast members being non-white a huge step forward in the grand scheme of things, so let’s not quibble with minor(ity) details and take it for the huge win it undeniably is, especially if the show’s a hit.

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As for the show itself, though it’s way too soon to determine if it will succeed in its overall goals, the set-up is pretty solid: it’s just over a decade later from the events of the film, and the whole “pre-crime” thing has been abolished. Although cops have some nifty items at their disposal, including computer-tech enhanced contact lenses and “sparrow” drones that they can use to suss out a situation before they enter blind into a potentially dangerous scenario; crime is nonetheless on the rise again after being all but quashed when “pre-crime” was in full swing.

Enter Dash (Stark Sands, of “Generation Kill”), one of the original pre-cognitive triplets that were able to see and predict the future, thus allowing cops to stop crime before it even occurred. Each of the triplets has a particular talent, with Dash able to see murders taking place and where they will happen, brother Arthur (Nick Zano, “2 Broke Girls,” “What I Like About You”) able to put a name to the faces, and sister Agatha (Laura Regan, “Mad Men,” “Saving Jessica Lynch”), who can outright see the future, thus making her the most valuable of the bunch.

As the three are a highly sought after commodity, they’ve all gone into hiding, but Dash can’t live with letting all the murder he sees to keep happening, so he reaches out to Vega, and the two work together to stop what could have been a mass slaughter. Somewhat ironically, the attempted murder in question involved a father/daughter whose lives were directly affected by the pre-cogs, when they predicted the former would kill his wife and he was given a treatment that caused him to go a little nuts. Or a lot nuts, given what he was planning, which seemed to be death by carrier pigeon! That’s a new one.

Perhaps needless to say, the two save the day just in the nick of time, though, at Dash’s request, Vega keeps her valuable asset on the down-low from Blake, albeit not Akeela. (Too bad the threat wasn’t bee-related, or Akeela could have taken care of that in no time, lol.) The other siblings are not as keen on Dash’s actions, though they’ve taken a wait-and-see attitude for the time being. It’s clear that Agatha is particularly wary of Dash’s new inclinations towards working with the law again, however, so we can expect her to be a potential issue on down the line somewhere.

While one could make a case that this is simply a typical cop show dressed up in futuristic clothing, not unlike the failed “Almost Human,” the show does have a lot of things going for it overall. Aside from the aforementioned cast, which is pretty rock solid, it’s got a great sense of humor- loved the “Totally Baked Goods” bit and the whole “Simpsons” 75th season anniversary thing- and the case, in this episode at least, was pretty left-of-center in the best of ways. If they keep these things up over the course of the season, the show might be onto something.

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Beyond that, the pacing is pretty solid, and the production values are mighty impressive. Yes, it’s a CGI fest, but what do you expect these days, really, least of all in a sci-fi show? I mean, is it really that far removed from what you see on, say, “CSI: Cyber”? IMHO, they made it just futuristic enough without going overboard with it. A lot of the tech used isn’t that different from the stuff already in use. Just substitute Google glass for computer-enhanced contacts and “sparrow” drones for our current ones and hologram-enhanced phone calls instead of Skype and you’re already halfway there. So, I had no problem with the future tech on display here being too far out on the whole.

Overall, the show has real potential, though the real test will be how it develops it’s interior mythos, particularly in regards to whatever the future is that Agatha is wary of. So far, so good, though. I can definitely say I’ll be watching, at least in the immediate future, no pun intended. In short, this “Minority Report” doesn’t need to be filed away just yet.

What did you think of “Minority Report” overall? Did you like the characters? Do you have a favorite yet? (Beyond Good’s character, Vega, I really liked Wally the Caretaker.) Are you happy with the general set-up, or do you wish they’d stuck closer to the original film, or even the source material, Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name? (As much as I love the latter’s work, the story is way too short to have not elaborated on it at least a little bit, so I’m good with that aspect of it, at least.) Will you be watching this season, or sticking with something else? Sound off on what you think below, and I’ll see you in a few weeks!