You know how you can tell that the Almost Human season finale was great? Because even though it revolved around one of my least favorite Fringe alumni (dammit, Anil! Stop ruining everything!), it was still one of the best episodes of the season. No offense to Shaun Smyth (I’m sure he’s a really nice guy), but I can’t look at his face without thinking of Anil and how much he annoyed me throughout the entire last season of Fringe…which is why I felt so vindicated when he turned out to be a super evil kidnapper/cyborg. That’s right, bucko—you weren’t fooling me with that nice-guy façade, helping out those poor homeless teens. Aside from Anil ‘s unwelcome appearance, this episode was chock-full of awesome, mostly involving Dorian’s evaluation, which forced John to admit how much he totally adores his partner. “Straw Man” also delved into John’s background, since his father worked on the original case. This episode really hit the trifecta of humor, action, and character development, with a healthy side of Jorian swoon. Not even Anil could rain on that fabulousness! Though he did try pretty hard…
Ask and you shall receive! After eleven episodes of blank stares and droll expository dialogue, we finally unlocked the mystery of Valerie Stahl! (Or at least we found the key.) I was so excited to see Stahl get to be an actual person in this episode, even if we didn’t find out why she became a police officer. ”Beholder” (as in “eye of the”) was a great example of Joel Wyman doing what he does best: telling stories about human connection while also making you laugh and grossing you out a little bit. Part of the reason I enjoyed this episode so much was because it had a very Fringe feel to it (even more so than usual), not to mention the perfect balance of action, humor, emotion, character development, and Michael Ealy’s face.
If you were a child of the ‘90s and had cable, this episode of Almost Human was probably a nightmarish parody of one of your favorite Disney Channel original movies, Smart House, starring my Disney crush Ryan Merriman (not to mention a post-Married With Children, pre-Sons of Anarchy Katey Sagal). The film centers around a computerized house equipped with a vaguely suspicious (albeit efficient) cyborg maid who eventually goes off the rails, causing the whole house to spiral out of control. She locks everyone inside and torments the children. Don’t worry—Ryan Merriman gets out safely. Nonetheless, it is sort of a terrifying premise, especially now that an idea like a “Smart House” isn’t nearly as far off as it was in the ‘90s. “Disrupt” touched on this issue some, but it was also a timely nod to our fear-dominant culture. Is a security system that shoots a teenage boy for trespassing really worth the safety it provides its inhabitants? This episode brought up some dark themes, but it did manage to squeeze in a few good giggles here and there. But mostly it just made me want to re-watch Smart House. Is it on Netflix? I’ll check and get back to you.
Football season is over, which means Fox can finally get back to its regularly scheduled programming—AKA sexy police robots instead of Cleatus the NFL robot. (I still can’t believe he has his own Twitter.) And oh, how I’ve missed Dorian and John and their undeniable sexual chemistry (and occasional crime-fighting). This week’s episode was like a futuristic Frankenstein retelling (but not in a ridiculous way…*cough* I, Frankenstein *cough*), but instead of an ugly green dude with neck bolts, Frankenstein’s monster was a hottie with an automatic weapon (played by MMA fighter/actress Gina Carano). This was all well and good, and there was plenty of fighting and blowing things up and tender emotional moments between Dorian and John (well, at least two moments), but the real highlight of the episode (other than Rudy talking about his lack of venereal diseases) was the reveal of a rather large piece of mythology: something called “the Wall.”
I’m not gonna lie, when they first started talking about “the other side,” I was seriously hoping that there was an alternate universe in play here á la Fringe. They’d break down the Wall only to come face to face with Peter and Olivia and Walter, and we’d have a surprise spin-off on our hands. (Hey, a fan can dream.) Then I thought maybe this was just a metaphorical wall, like Pink Floyd was always singing about. But, alas, when we saw John Larroquette attempting to zip up the wall to the other side, it was clear that this is a very large, very literal wall that we’re talking about. But before we start theorizing about what’s on the other side, let’s review the rest of “Unbound.”
Remember back when John was all surly and suspicious of Dorian, and he hated everything android-related? We got a little flashback to those days—before Dorian took him on a magic carpet ride and showed him a whole new world. This was because the episode was aired out of order. It was originally supposed to be the second episode, but Fox bumped it in favor of the sexbots episode. Because who needs plot continuity and character development when you can just show naked ladies? Being reminded of how much ornerier John was whenwe first met him actually made me appreciate how he’s developed since then. Although it’s hard to tell sometimes when the episode timeline is more confusing than the last season of Lost. I’m excited for everyone who will be watching this on DVD and hopefully with the episodes in their intended order. How special that will be for them! Anyway, it was still a good episode despite the noticeable earmarks of its incorrect order.
This episode should have been called “Healthcare and the Two Michael Ealys.” The central case was a black market organ extortion racket, which brought up issues of health insurance, robot doctors, and biomechanical organs. Dorian also adopted a stray DRN he found working as a mechanic and took him on a field trip. Dorian wanted to give the droid a chance to relive his glory days as a police officer, back before The Man decided that DRNs were too “emotionally unstable” to work in the field. Sure…because it’s not like humans ever break protocol or make irrational decisions or demonstrate emotional instability. It was a big Emotion episode, but without veering too far into saccharine territory. Maybe I’m biased because I kind of worship Joel Wyman, but he has a way of examining the complexities of humanity and the way we connect with each other in such a way that’s meaningful without being cheesy. Sure, there was plenty of talk of hugging and feelings, but this episode was still less sentimental than that Kohl’s commercial where the young couple sneaks into their elderly neighbor’s apartment and decorates it for the holidays. (I cry like a tiny baby every time I see that ad.)
Sometimes I feel like a TV-addicted leprechaun, and my pot of gold can only be filled with meaningful glances and smiles between John and Dorian. Luckily this occurs several times per episode—especially when that episode involves Dorian opening up about how John was his knight in shining armor who awoke him from an endless slumber. Before this recap devolves into some strange slash fairytale makeover of Almost Human (that actually sounds awesome…can someone please write that?), maybe I should start the actual recap portion. Sound good? Good.
Joel Wyman (one of the brilliant minds behind Fringe) has a new show on Fox, which means my life finally has meaning again! At least until this one gets canceled. (Just kidding…I hope.) Almost Human puts a futuristic spin on the buddy cop genre by pairing a surly detective with an android partner who has been programmed to be as close to human as possible—complete with a sense of humor, a temper, and all kinds of other fun side effects of humanity. Karl Urban (Star Trek) plays John Kennex, the robo-phobic cop who wears his scowl like it’s part of his uniform. His android partner Dorian is played by Michael Ealy (The Good Wife), who might actually be the most beautiful person to ever live. If any of you watched Ealy’s buddy cop series Common Law on USA last year, this is pretty much the same premise, but one of them is a robot. Of course, no one watched Common Law, which is why it was canceled. But enough about my poor track record with TV shows…
Before we dive into this recap, let’s get a few things straight: 1) Michael Ealy has the face of an angel and the body of a Britney Spears backup dancer, and I will be commenting on his unearthly beauty with extreme frequency. Get used to it. 2) There’s a pretty good chance that I will be operating under the assumption that John and Dorian should be/are in a romantic relationship. (Don’t blame me for their sizzling onscreen chemistry.) Lastly, 3) Please be advised that approximately 80% of the content of my recaps is sheer nonsense. The other 20% is probably stray observations that no one cares about, references to Fringe or Lost, and shameless appreciation of Michael Ealy.
Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. Let’s get started!
1. Alan Ruck as Principal Feeney on Ben and Kate—The second episode of Fox’s new comedy Ben and Kate combined two of my favorite things: Alan Ruck and Boy Meets World. The Ferris Bueller’s Day Off actor played a school principal named Feeney—as in one “e” away from, “Feeny! Fee-he-hee-ny!” Considering Ruck has guest starred on some of my favorite shows (Fringe, Cougar Town, Greek), I think this is a good sign for Ben and Kate.
2. Danny Castellano reading Catching Fire on the subway in The Mindy Project—It was pretty subtle, but if, like me, you’re obsessed with what people are reading on the subway, you might have noticed the surly Jersey boy was trying to read the second Hunger Games book while he sparred with Mindy during their commute. Just add this to the list of reasons why Danny Castellano is my soul mate. (See also his obsession with Bruce Springsteen.)
3. The return of The Good Wife—Political intrigue! Legal jargon! Purple ties! Rough sex! The best drama on network television (that isn’t Fringe) is back, people!
4. Thomas Lennon on How I Met Your Mother—I’m so glad the HIMYM writers found an excuse to keep Klaus around for a few more episodes. Thomas Lennon (17 Again) is one of those rare comic actors who is both a master of physical comedy, and he knows just how to deliver a well-written joke.
5. Andre Braugher’s performance on Last Resort—Hello, Emmys? This is Pop Culture Nexus. Yeah, no need to worry about the Best Actor race this year. Just give it to Braugher right now for his role as Captain Marcus Chaplin on ABC’s Last Resort. In the pilot episode, we saw Braugher portray the strength and determination of a captain who dares to question orders. The second episode gave Braugher a chance to show some of Chaplin’s weakness, as we watched him break down over the death of his son. This show still gets my vote as the best new drama, and Braugher’s outstanding performance is one of the reasons why.
That’s a wrap for this week’s TV highlights. Leave a comment below with your favorite moments from the past week of TV, or tweet it to us!
-Mary & Louise
Because Michael Ealy takes his shirt off.
Oh, I’m sorry—did you need another reason? Okay fine. USA’s latest show about men flirting with each other while solving cases in some sunny locale doesn’t even try to pretend that the two male characters aren’t essentially an old married couple. In fact, sparring police partners Travis (Michael Ealy) and Wes (Warren Kole) have let their bickering affect their work to the point that their supervisor has forced them to attend couples counseling (courtesy of Lost‘s Sonya Walger). They even started off the pilot episode with a quote from Dr. Phil. On behalf of all of Tumblr, thank you, USA.
In the first episode alone we saw one of the two main characters drive a car through a convenience store, Michael Ealy soothe a fussing baby, and an up-close-and-personal trust-building exercise. Also, this quote: “Did you embroider Travis’ name on your new black panties? No? I did.” Well, Wes might not have Travis’ name embroidered on his underwear, but he obviously has it embroidered on his heart. Is it just me, or do Wes and Travis have more sexual tension than any other pair of partners on TV? Actually, I take that back. I forgot about Steve and Danno on Hawaii Five-O.
In general, I’m not a big fan of typical procedural shows. But I am a fan of homoerotic undertones and Michael Ealy’s torso, so I will definitely be watching Common Law. And I highly recommend you do the same!
Common Law airs Friday nights at 10 on USA.