Minority Report Pilot Review
Today the pilot episode of Fox’s new Science-Fiction drama Minority Report leaked onto the internet. Several other TV shows such as Lucifer and Blindspot also had an episode released early by content pirates. It is as of yet unknown whether it has anything to do with the fact that the Redskins were renamed in the show, a nod to the team’s controversial name. As old news is no news I decided to write an early review of the leaked pilot episode. With people talking about the show on IMDB and elsewhere I think it can add to the discourse. Minority Report is based on the 2002 movie from Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise. The TV show that is officially scheduled to air September 21st is set 15 years after the vents of the movie.
Minority Report is about Dash (Stark Sands), one of the three precogs, as he attempts to stop murders before they happen. His motives for returning to Washington DC are somewhat hazy, but in a argument with Agatha (Laura Regan) he laments how he can’t help the people of which he has nightmares. Meanwhile Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) struggles to find murderers after they have committed the act. After Dash approaches her with a lead for her last homicide case she uncovers his true identity, Sahm Adrangi. He explains the limits of his powers without the presence of Agatha or his twin brother Arthur. He only sees flashes. Soon Dash has another flash and with the help of Vega determines Peter Van Eyck and his wife are the next murder victim has Peter runs for mayor.
Vega and Dash talk with Van Eyck’s security and discover that he had been threatened by Adrangi, but that the last threat came several hours after his death. After retracing Adrangi’s steps Dash and Vega make their way to the hospital were those accused of Precrime have been convalescing since their ‘release’. Dash is horrified to discover most suffer severe mental disabilities after being placed in stasis. However, at the hospital they talk to an embittered daughter whose father was sent to jail for a crime he never committed. Her father manages to escape the hospital.
After the failure to capture Adrangi Dash and Lara admit they need help. They seek out Wally (Daniel London), the precog caretaker. A disheveled Wally explains to Detective Vega that though Agatha may have been the most powerful precog, and Arthur was able to discover the names of victim and perpetrator it was Dash who would usually come up with minority report. This dirty secret made it possible for perpetrators to have an alternate destiny in which they do not commit the crime. Vega is visibly shaken by this. Wally succeeds in downloading the vision Dash had of the murder of Van Eyck’s wife. The murder weapon is a poisoned pigeon (not a type).
With the help of Vega’s assistant at IT they manage to arrest the would-be murderer, only to discover that it is his embittered daughter who is the perpetrator. At Peter Van Eyck’s election Rally Vega pushes to Dash to try harder and uncover where the murderess is hiding. He discovers it just in time and both manage to stop her. Afterwards, Vega’s boss questions her about how she managed to make the arrest with so little to go on. She convinces him it was team work. In the last scene of the episode Dash is contacted by his twin Arthur. The conversation implies Arthur needs Dash’s help.
The story of the Minority Report pilot was interesting. I like how events from the movie were used as primer for events of the TV show. It goes against the common wisdom to make a proper break with past events in order not to alienate viewers. But viewers of the movie no doubt have lingering questions and the show can’t avoid answering them. The story had multiple layers some of whom helped frame the show better. Nonetheless, it was rather clear whom the perpetrator was as soon as she was introduced.
The acting in the pilot episode did not manage to convince, both Meagan Good and Stark Sands perform with too much force and the result feels wooden. Both perform better as the episode progresses which suggests that they are struggling with the difficult characters. Stark Sands as Dash has the most difficult role, essentially Dash has elements from both Rain man and Monk. However, neither of those have the scarred youth that Dash has that Sands somehow has to convey to the audience. There is a risk Dash would come off as too melodramatic. There were scenes in the pilot that certainly felt that way. If Minority Report doesn’t guard itself against that its ratings will plummet. The pilot did introduce elements of humor, it was hard to avoid with a character like Dash. Those moments were genuinely funny but they did feel out of place.
Sadly another major gripe I had with the Minority Report pilot were the special effects, set-design and costumes. While they were all decent none felt special like Almost Human or Fringe. Minority Report feels like a show that is on a tight budget, but as I look back there were definitely a number of good special effects scenes. The creative team will have to decide on how to better make use of such scenes in order to make them more memorable.
The pilot of Minority Report may not have been perfect it was at least decent. The franchise has a premise that if handled well can last for many seasons. However, the pilot does not manage to develop any kind of unique mythology for the show. Almost Human suffered because it took to long to raise any kind of overall mystery let alone solve them. Minority Report instead feels too much like a show that solely rests on cardboard characters. I did already mention Rain Man and Monk.
It is always wrong to judge a TV show by its pilot. They are rarely satisfactory considering the amount of content that needs to be crammed into just 43 minutes. I think both Dark Matter and Killjoys are good examples of how mediocre pilots were the start of excellent TV shows. However, Minority Report will have to try harder. After Fringe and Almost Human viewers have seen it all and so far the show can’t match the 2002 movie. This was the Minority Report Pilot Review, I hope you enjoyed this spoilery article.
Score; 7 / 10.
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