This review contains spoilers.
Do you want to know something that probably isn’t a good idea? Making a series on a movie that came out more than a decade ago that barely made back its budget at the domestic box office.
I was just about to correct myself as I wrote that second sentence, because my brain is like, “Hey, what about ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer?'” But then the nerd part of my brain stepped in and reminded me that Joss Whedon put his television version out just five years after the movie. And despite that movie being terrible — it still doubled its budget at the box office.
So that brings us to “Minority Report,” which if you can remember back to specific movies you watched 13 years ago, you will remember something with Tom Cruise and a guy who looks a lot like Colin Farrell. It had something to do with the crazy-sounding pilots from the base ships of “Battlestar Galactica” predicting murder before it happened.
And thinking back to “Minority Report,” it did bring up a good question — if someone could predict you were going to do something bad, could they still judge you for it before you even had a chance to do it?
OK, not very deep. But the Fox version of “Minority Report” — which goes so far as to be a sequel to that film — never gets past the shallow end of the story spectrum. And that’s disappointing, because this ultimately is going to reflect badly on Philip K. Dick, the author of the story “Minority Report” is based on.
Despite the somewhat non-familiarity fans might have with the original film or the Dick story, it really could’ve been possible to bring “Minority Report” to the small screen. But for some reason, this version overreached for high-octane movement, instead giving us unnecessary technology, flat characters you can’t connect with, and an opening mystery that was neither thought-provoking, or even shocking.
Before I get too far, I do want to touch on unnecessary technology. One of the things that made the original “Star Trek” series so prophetic is the fact that the technology developed for Kirk and Spock was technology that was based on some need or desire to have something, or make something easier. Storing data on mobile devices, collecting information, communicating from long distances — we have many of these things now because this type of technology makes sense.
Instead, it seems Fox has learned no lessons from “Almost Human.” That show was another one with unnecessary technology, put in just to say, “Hey! We’re in the future! Can’t you tell?” I mean, there was even a public toilet in an episode with the old metal flush handle at the top — but given cool neon lights to make it look futuristic, although there was absolutely no need for it.
“Minority Report” did some rather odd things with technology, however. It was like the show was intended to be filmed in the past, but then suddenly pushed into the future, and no one wanted to spend extra money to re-shoot scenes.
For instance, when we first meet Dash (Stark Sands), one of the pre-cognitives who could see the future and once used to see murder before it happened, he’s depending on an old digital watch that would be old now, and likely not still working 50 years from now.
Later, when we are introduced to mayoral candidate Peter Van Eyck (Andrew Stewart-Jones), we tour his campaign office to see old cardboard voting signs, and old-style paper banners hanging from the walls.
When Dash is about to run into Lara Vega (Meagan Good), he decides to use some strange chemical that makes his face look like a “Doctor Who” alien, instead of maybe just taking an easier route of wearing a mask. I mean, his face looked so hideous that he was obviously hiding his appearance, and you’re telling me that no one in 50 years would have the ability to do an on-site DNA check?
And really, what kind of cop is Vega? She meets Dash, and immediately makes him her partner (out of nowhere), and even invites him into her home? Sure, he has some knowledge about the murders that had been happening, and I guess she eventually finds out he’s a pre-cog — but that’s a lot of trust to give someone without knowing who they are.
I mean, if I were a cop — even one who had lived through or heard of pre-cogs — and someone started showing me a notebook detailing murders, I would want to consider that person a suspect before I start thinking, “Oh, he can just see it in his brain.”
Dash is then given a role of just being someone who only conveniently predicts the future — like usually only to elicit a laugh, or to keep the story moving almost artificially. We meet his brother Arthur (Nick Zano) who also can see the future, but instead is cashing in on his abilities and buying out the office President Laura Roslin learned she had breast cancer in during the “Battlestar Galactica” pilot.
Barely knowing each other at all, Dash and Vega become an unstoppable crime force — kind of like what Cmdr. Riker and Counselor Troi would’ve been if they had gone back in time — stopping a former pre-crime accused murderer that we were inexplicably introduced to earlier in the episode from killing everyone at a campaign rally with, well, birds.
The sad part is that I didn’t have an issue with the acting from either Sands or Good. In fact, I loved Sands as Toby in “Six Feet Under,” and Good really was a great bright spot of “Californication.” But I felt neither actor was given strong material to work with. It just seemed that the pacing was off completely, that we didn’t have a chance as an audience to catch our breath, or even find a way to navigate through this complicated, almost contradictory universe.
Oh, and “That ’70s Show” fans should love the fact that Wilmer Valderrama was in the show, too, but if you blinked, you missed his character of Will Blake sexually harassing Vega.
The pilot ended with me not feeling for any of the characters, and hoping that the series is an anthology, where we get totally new characters next week where we might want to try again.
Then again, this is only a pilot, and I’m all for giving a show a chance to find its legs. But knowing how quick Fox is to pull the plug on underperforming shows not called “Fringe,” “Minority Report” will have to find those legs, and start running really fast.
The pilot to “Minority Report” was written by Max Borenstein and directed by Mark Mylod. It airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.