I wasn’t making this show a priority because I just couldn’t get excited about the premise, but I finally watched it on Hulu this morning, and it was surprisingly enjoyable.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m still not sold on the premise of the show. In a world where there are increasing concerns about government surveillance and violations of privacy as well as serious problems with police overreach, corruption, and excessive force, Minority Report‘s nostalgia for pre-crime actually might be dangerously tone deaf. I mean, the entire point of Philip K. Dick’s book and the 2002 film was that the whole pre-crime thing was pretty irredeemably evil. The show, as was evident from its trailers, seems to be going with “but maybe it wasn’t?” (And I hope you are reading that in the Eli Cash voice I thought it in.) It’s a tough premise to sell, but after watching the pilot episode of the show I’m at least slightly encouraged that they might be handling things with a bit more nuance than I expected.
The good parts of the pilot are really, really good. The cold open, where we see ex-precog Dash (Stark Sands) running through future Washington, D.C. trying to stop a murder is excellently done and really hammers home the idea that, for Dash, his visions create a moral imperative that drives him back into the world to find a way to do some good with his gift. This might be hopelessly naive of him, in light of his own history as a formerly enslaved child, but the show seems prepared to address this issue. Both of the other precogs appear in the pilot and opinions on the moral imperative thing seem to be mixed. It also looks, based on the pilot’s epilogue, like the precogs’ ongoing fears of imprisonment and exploitation may fuel a longer story arc, which could get interesting and lead to an interested dilemma for Dash later on.
Meagan Good plays Lara Vega, the obligatory no-nonsense police officer, and I like her. She’s kind of a stock character, reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow‘s Abbie Mills, Castle‘s Kate Beckett, iZombie‘s Clive Babineaux and enough similar characters that there’s nothing about Vega that stands out. However, I love this particular collection of character tropes, and I rarely get tired of watching them in action. Aditionally, Meagan Good is likable and has an easy chemistry with both co-star Sands and Wilmer Valderrama, who plays her slightly slimy-seeming boss, Will Blake. This gives Vega’s interactions with other characters a natural feel that works in the show’s favor.
The only exception to this is in a couple of scenes between Vega and Dash where the show’s writers seem determined to hit the viewer right upside the head with exposition and shove some character motivation right in our faces. It’s too heavy handed in this first episode, and it ends up being jarring and distracting from the story. That said, television pilots often try to cram as much of this as possible in, so I can forgive it for now. The true test will come next week when we find out if this kind of ham-fisted hand-holding is just a pilot episode tic or if it’s going to be characteristic of the whole series.
The world-building is fairly pedestrian, with the usual near-future stuff in evidence, but the production values are slick and professional. The costumes are alright, and I actually kind of love Vega’s look, even if she does have a cleavage window. Minority Report continues the trend of more diverse casting in sci-fi television, which is nice to see as well. In general, while some of the show’s visual effects are a bit silly (the robots that look like someone chromed a bunch of golden snitches, for example) and there’s not much new or interesting in terms of the setting, the show’s future D.C. feels plausible enough that I can see myself spending a lot of time watching it if it can overcome some of the writing missteps of the pilot.
All in all, Minority Report turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a disaster, and what I got instead was a well-cast show with some genuinely interesting ideas. The execution so far isn’t great, but it’s passable, and I think there’s a lot to work with here. I don’t know if it will ever be a great show, but it wouldn’t be hard for it to be a good one. In the meantime, it’s definitely enjoyable enough for me to come back to it to see if it improves.