Talk about the new Channel 4 drama Humans began before it even aired. It was the advert that had Brits freaked out in black-mirror style, where they were introduced to Sally a ‘synth’, who is ‘closer to humans than ever before.’ As promised the opening was sleek and philosophical. Are the persona synthetics merely cold humanoid slave machines that were made for our convenience, or is there more to them than meets the eye? As a synth looks to the moon we reflect this eerie thought. Is it wrong to assume that these machines are not human? With this profound question in our heads the programme commences.
We are then abruptly thrown into a family situation that can only be compared to the acting and tone of ‘Outnumbered’. That’s not to say Outnumbered is bad, it’s great, but this is definitely not the tone well suited for drama Sci-fi or what is promised by the provocative 3 minute commercial.
The struggling family relationship scenario is so predictable that it comes across as lazy. Obtuse lines such as “I know but the case ran over” and lazy background information like “I know your parents died when you were young but…” are used as an excuse for any groundbreaking dialogue. It’s as if one of these robot humanoids has been fed on cheap Sci-fi films and then been told to write the script.
The 45 minutes stretches into a scrawl of missed opportunities, which skirt over controversial and philosophically important issues. There is a senseless abundance of clunky clichés that we have all seen before, the most obvious being androidphobia. Did they lose funding half way through? Everything seems not half done but half wrong. The casting, the setting, the writing, the logic and the acting. Katherine Parkinson, best known for her role in the I.T crowd, plays a lead role and recently said, “If I could only do one job it would be comedy.” As a huge fan I take no joy in saying this, but based on the performance so far her strengths do indeed lie in that genre. There is, however, one salvaging story line that lives up to expectations. An elderly man with an outdated synth, which stores the memories he lives for and can no longer remember himself, but also retains the darker secrets he cannot forget.
The cliffhanger at the end of the opening episode may entice me to watch the next. So lets hope that this is merely the foundation of something much bigger and more thoughtful than a watered down ‘i-Robot,’ and more like what was advertised.
Featured image from the RadioTimes.