Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Omelette du Homage

So, if you're in the mood for a very dangerous drinking game (or you want to play an alcoholic version of Russian Roulette), I have a proposal for you: one shot per sci-fi reference in Fox's new Almost Human.

Now, normally I don't comment too much on current things in pop culture. This is because, rather than being on the cutting edge of pop culture, I'm more akin to being on the dull, rusty garden implement left out on the lawn over the winter edge of things. (Thankfully my shots are current. I think.)

But there were just so. many. things. Leaving aside that the entire premise was done before in the short-lived (but thoroughly enjoyable and not just because of Yancey Butler) Mann and Machine, in about the first 20 minutes, this is what I noticed. This list is entirely spoiler-free, I promise. Nothing here is plot relevant. More on that - the non-plot relevance - in a moment. Anyway, in random order:

  • There was the memory machine from Total Recall
  • The neighborhoods from Blade Runner.
  • The noodle shop from Blade Runner, complete with the people with umbrellas in the background.* 
  • The emotional robots going nuts. Heck, I was waiting for someone to say "More human than human."
  • The robot doing the statistical analysis on who to save from I, Robot.
  • Heck, the interior of the police station looked very similar to I, Robot.
  • The bad guys stole their black leather get up from Clarence J Boddicker in Robocop. (With maybe a dash of Roy Batty thrown in.)

And that was about when I just stopped keeping track.

Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable enough, despite the veritable plethora of cliches - including every single character profile - and I'll tune in to see where it goes. But as the similarities started to pile up, I had to wonder if they were doing this on purpose. By the end of the episode, I was convinced they were. My only question is, were they doing it as homage, or because they couldn't think of anything original?

If I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the writers, I'd have to say homage, if only because there were just. so. many. On the other hand, this is from the same guy that crafted the last two Star Trek films, including the one that was largely cobbled together from Wrath of Khan and various sundry pieces. So it may be a little from column A, a little from column B.

[Seeing as how J.J. Abrams' next big thing is the Star Wars films, I have decided that in a stunning bit of prognostication I shall herein reveal the script for those: it's going to be entirely bits and pieces from the prior movies. In random order. With lens flares.** As long as those bits and pieces are mostly from the original trilogy, I'm actually good with that. Maybe a couple of the lightsaber battles from the prequels, because let's face it, those were the only good things in the prequels.]

I'd also like to believe that the massive amount of references were mostly homage because otherwise there's a staggering lack of originality that's just depressing. The media powers that be ought to be able to come up with better without having to shamelessly steal from other things. Or else they just figured not enough people would notice, which is just a cynical thing to be thinking, even for me.

And I'll admit, if it's homage, it's just clever enough to get me to tune back in. But there had better be more than just retread. As much as I adored all the sci-fi goodness that they're drawing on, nostalgia only carries so far.

Besides, I have most of those films on DVD anyway.

Oh, and if you're puzzled over the title, it was my own homage to an episode of Dexter's Lab. By which I mean I blatantly stole it.

*I'd have to check, but if that wasn't just about shot perfect - same angle and everything - from that opening scene with Deckard, I'll eat a spinner. (That's one of those flying cars.)

** Okay, that was low-hanging fruit, and to be honest I didn't notice any in Almost Human. There was, however, a decidedly shiny quality to some aspects, though it was balanced out by the non-shiny underbelly stuff.

1 comment:

Jenifer Payne said...

I have this one sitting on the DVR, waiting to record tonight's episode, so that I can watch both in one shot.

Good to know I may want to take tiny sips if I'm gonna play the drinking game, hehe.