Minority Report / Pilot Pages / Screen

Pilot Pages: Minority Report

I’m only watching Minority Report because I have a thing for sci-fi, black female leads and I have vague but positive memories of the Tom Cruise film of the same name. I hesitate of course at having any lasting interest in the show, as Fox attempted a black female lead alongside a white, male one with Sleepy Hollow and only proved how little it cared for such an arrangement (Minority Report even takes the timeslot once occupied by Sleepy Hollow). And Fox already cancelled Almost Human, and while I don’t claim to have enjoyed it that much, Fox had already decided to give up on it before it even aired, and similarities between the shows are hard to ignore. So I’m expecting little. But Minority Report shapes up to be much better than thought, and even better than negative reviews leading up to the premiere indicated.

Minority Report has a slick look about it, not unfamiliar to viewers of last season’s Almost Human. Like that show, I wonder how long it can maintain the costly visuals of selfie drones, endless floating touchscreens, crime scene exploring contact lenses, etc. It will likely depend on the show’s success rate and if Fox can plug in the money to maintain it, but assuming it can’t, the show will need to find more creative ways at proving itself to be in 2065. The 21st century era posters of musical artists is one such attempt (though I side eye the notion that people will be putting up posters of Demi Lovato….where are the vintage Beyonce posters?), but somehow it’s interesting that the show could just go along pretending its in the future simply by rooting some of its musical tastes in the present day and calling them “oldies”. Its flashy visuals are an immediate way of asserting the show’s focus, and its use of all its various gadgets and the like work well in the pilot, avoiding the appearing like gimmicks. But more compelling than the show’s

I haven’t seen the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise film in quite a while, so I watched the pilot worrying I was missing something vital. I wasn’t, however. It opens with a pretty accurate prologue, explaining the origin of the Precogs and their eventual release by the government. It hops/skips/jumps over the film proving that Precogs could make mistakes, that predicated murders weren’t the same as being predestined, instead zeroing in on the nostalgia of the Precrime program. It’s an odd angle to take. Is the show trying to backtrack on what the film already proved? The 2065 world we meet, nine years after the events of the film, is littered with fond memories of the Precrime program. This isn’t unexpected, considering the government and public revere the Precogs as societally beneficial, near-deities and would love to have them back. The anxiety of such a notion is what keeps Agatha (Laura Regan) confined to her out-of-the-way home, while Arthur (Nick Zano) turns his ability into a moneymaking venture, still on the look out for anyone that might seek to take advantage.

And that makes perfect sense. So does Dash (Stark Sands) and his eagerness to stop the murders he keeps seeing. Against the advice of his sister, he continues to run across the city and try to save people, failing to save even one. He makes a valiant effort, though he’s crippled by his separation from his siblings, who have their own ideas about how to proceed with their gifts. So enter Lara Vega (Meagan Good), detective and Precrime fan. Their partnership proceeds just as one would expect, initially hesitant and distrustful, Vega chasing Dash as a suspect before accepting that he’d be more of a help than a hindrance. In any show that pairs up a woman with a man, there’s going to be speculation of an eventual romance, but Minority Report is less interested in a future for Vega and Dash than in the mutual history of Vega and Lieutenant Blake (Wilmer Valderrama), a workplace rival and likely former lover. Sands does well as an awkward and well-meaning sidekick, and Good is obviously enjoying herself as the determined and savvy Vega, who leaps off buildings and such.

Glimpses of personality of few and far between, popping out more in character interactions than in the day-to-day. Vega longs for the days of Precrime, the program that compelled her to become a cop. She’s snarky when she wants to be, mainly with Blake and rolls her eyes at Dash’s people skills. The earnest and optimistic Dash shrugs off his siblings’ concerns about what could become of Vega and Dash’s partnership. He seems to gloss over the fairness of such worries, when Vega believes Precrime to have been a pretty cool idea and is now chasing those nine years past days with Dash, more invested in the story of Precogs as omniscient, willing saviors than captive prisoners. It could end up being a strong source of tension between Dash and Vega, who rely on one another because they have no one else. The pilot doesn’t lean very heavily on this, and though there are multiple suggestions of Vega callously using him and his gifts down the line, the episode treats this with more levity than it should.

Good science fiction does something. It comments and critiques, and not just on the fictional, future worlds it creates but in the present one as well. Minority Report serves a purpose because it comments on the government’s use of people to suit its own needs and on its condemnation of people who had yet to commit the murders they were convicted of. It’s unclear if the show knows this. Bringing Dash and his siblings back into the world to solve crimes before they occur is just doing what the movie already proved was bad, so what’s the point? Are they trying to change our minds? Is the show, like the former Deputy Chief, convinced that Precrime really was a good program, despite being one laden with flaws? If that’s going to be the show’s thesis, it will have to contend with the argument already made by its source material. Agatha’s having visions of the Precogs being taken away again, which she and Arthur fear will be a direct result of Dash and Vega working together. Is that true or it just a mistake? The pilot doesn’t seem too invested in the notion that Precrime can be more than just apprehending people for crimes they’ve yet to commit. Both of this episodes baddies end up dead, one killed by Dash as he saves Vega’s life, and no one seems to think it could have ended up any other way.  Time will tell on which side it falls in this department.

 

 

Stray Observations

  • “Peekaboo, bitch.”
  • You know what? I’ll take a selfie drone.
  • I’m very interested in Vega’s house. It looks like any house you’d see today, instead of the usual sci-fi, minimalist thing.
  • Is Van Eyck going to show up again, pushing his Hawkeye program?
  • I’ll decide next week if this is a show I want to pick up for weekly review, and if I do let’s hope it’s not going to go the same route Sleepy Hollow did and condemn its capable leading lady to character purgatory in favor of Dash. They can both have great storylines, together and apart, without one overcoming the other.
  • Viola Davis mentioned Meagan Good in her Emmy speech last night, as Good joins the ranks of other black woman in leading roles in television. Aftr seeing the pilot I’m very happy Good has something promising in her career as she, like many other black actresses, has been working hard for a very long time with very little recognition.

 

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