Tag Archives: Minority Report

Best of 2015: Favorite Television

2015 has been a sort of strange year for television. On the one hand, there were quite a few shows that I was excited about at the beginning of the fall season, but when it came down to it I found that I just didn’t have time to watch all of them (The Last Kingdom and The Bastard Executioner were two that didn’t make the cut). Of the ones that I did watch, a couple turned out to be totally unwatchable disappointments (Scream Queens and Heroes Reborn fell into this group). And a couple of the shows I was most looking forward to (X-Files, The Shannara Chronicles, Lucifer, The Magicians, Shadowhunters) don’t actually premier until January. Most of what I’ve watched this year, then, has been things that I was already watching and enjoying. Only a few of the year’s new shows really stuck, and at least one of those is almost certainly not getting a second season.

Jessica Jones

This Netflix gem is kind of objectively the best new show of the year. It can be tough to watch, with its themes about rape and abuse, in spite of the fact that none of the sexual violence is ever actually shown on screen. Jessica Jones is a deeply compelling character who fits a lot of common noir tropes, but a lot of that is subverted by her journey being one of personal healing rather than a revenge tale. In the end, Jessica wants mostly to protect others rather than just avenge herself, making her a complicated and fascinating feminist hero. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Supergirl

This year CBS gave us a very different kind of feminist hero in Supergirl, and I love that we now live in a world where both Kara Danvers and Jessica Jones are getting their own vastly different shows. Supergirl is much more overtly and earnestly feminist than the Netflix series, which can be frustrating at times, especially when the show garbles its 101 level messaging, but Melissa Benoist carries the whole show on her super-strong shoulders by creating a Kara who is tough and brave, but most of all deeply kind. When Strong Female Characters are often imagined as ass-kicking fighters, it feels pretty revolutionary to have a super-powered woman on television who is as deeply empathetic and caring as Benoist’s Supergirl.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that I almost didn’t watch at all because I found the title so off-putting. It’s also the show that’s been, by far, the most pleasant surprise of the year. Hot shot lawyer Rebecca is so miserable with her life that she makes a totally bonkers decision to move to a small town in California where her ex-boyfriend, Josh, lives. It’s an absurdly silly premise, but I haven’t related to a character this much in a very long time. I, too, struggle with mental illness, and I, too, have often thought that making some enormous and ill-advised change in my life would somehow magically fix everything. Essentially, this show is a humorous take on how this kind of insane decision could work out for someone. Spoiler alert: everything is terrible-ly hilarious. Also, there are songs, because everyone involved in the show is a musical theatre nerd.

The Expanse

It’s great to see SyFy actually getting back to its roots and producing more, well, sci-fi. I didn’t love their adaptation of Childhood’s End (although I appreciate the attempt), but The Expanse is truly excellent. It’s space opera, but also a sort of mash-up with a noir detective story and a futuristic political drama. There are several notable women characters, including Chrisjen Avasarala (played by the incomparable Shohreh Aghdashloo), who I am certain is going to end up being the iconic character of the show. It’s worth watching just for her parts, but the rest of it is pretty great, too.

Into the Badlands

For some reason, almost no one seemed to talk much about Into the Badlands during its six-episode first season on AMC, but it’s a fucking excellent show that has surprisingly feminist sensibilities as well as some of the most incredibly choreographed martial arts fight scenes I’ve ever seen on television. Just in general, Into the Badlands is a gorgeously imagined and shot show, with highly saturated colors, striking cinematography, and great costumes. It’s also got a relatively diverse cast headed up by two Asian men (Daniel Wu and Aramis Knight) in the lead roles. A black woman (Madeleine Mantock) is the main character’s love interest, but she’s also a doctor and a revolutionary of sorts in her own right. The numerous other women on the show also eschew stereotyping, and while they exist in a fairly sexist fictional world, their roles and struggles aren’t entirely dictated by that. The only negative of this show is that it’s only six episodes for now and a second season hasn’t been confirmed, which makes the cliffhanger ending at the end of episode six potentially very frustrating/upsetting.

Minority Report

This show had tepid ratings and mediocre reviews and is the abovementioned likely-cancelled show, but I enjoyed it. The actors had a decent chemistry, though the writing could have been stronger all around, and I’d have liked to see the show explore more of its bigger ideas instead of adhering mostly to a case of the week format. Sadly, Fox has a tendency to invest in development for interesting sci-fi shows but then cut them off quickly if they don’t perform well, and that’s what happened with Minority Report. The news that their episode order had been cut from thirteen to ten after something like episode three of the first season didn’t help ratings. Still, the show was entertaining and had a lot of promise. It even managed to wrap up episode ten in a way that will act as a reasonably satisfying end to the story if there are no more episodes. It’s still available for binge watching on Hulu if you run out of other things to watch.

Minority Report: “Everybody Runs” is as satisfying an ending as we could have hoped for

The last few weeks have really been an improvement for Minority Report, and “Everybody Runs” is an episode that is good enough that I find myself very sad that it is likely the last episode of the series. If this is the end, though, it’s a good one. While it doesn’t wrap up everything perfectly, it works well enough to not be terribly frustrating, which is better than can be said for most other shows cancelled by Fox.

“Everybody Runs” continues to deal with Memento Mori and the terrorist plot to murder the US Senate. We also see Blomfeld’s hunt for the precogs come to a climax—and a resolution. It’s a tightly plotted episode that makes excellent use of its time to squeeze a good amount of story in and create a satisfying ending while still leaving room for another season if the show manages to get one (although that seems increasingly unlikely).

The episode opens with a flashback to Wally being interviewed and hired to work with the precogs seventeen years ago. With time at such a premium in this final episode, this might be a little redundant, as it doesn’t really expand our understanding of Wally or his relationship with the precogs. However, it pays off at the end when Wally gets a chance to finally protect them the way he wasn’t able to during pre-crime. It’s a moment that ought to be even more powerful than it is, and there are several other similar moments in the episode, all with their emotional impact unfortunately muted by the series overall failure to fully develop its characters.

This, ultimately, is one of two things that account for this show’s downfall. Network shenanigans don’t help, and I would have liked to see Fox give this show a better chance at success than they did, but it’s always been a deeply flawed project. Though the last three episodes have definitely stepped up their game and finally seemed to more fully embrace the show’s high concept, it’s almost certainly too little too late to save the series, and the larger problem of the show has always been that it struggles to get the audience to really connect with its characters. In the end, this translates directly into those characters not being able to really sell us on major emotional moments, in spite of some fine acting on the part of, well, pretty much everybody this week.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but one thing that might have helped this show would be some romance. Aside from Dash’s fling with that woman early in the season who turned out to be a murderer and Vega’s implied romantic history with Blake, the show basically avoided romance like it was the plague. I can definitely appreciate the desire to avoid focusing too much on romantic drama, but the utter lack of romantic entanglements actually makes the characters feel unrealistic. I’m sure someone has written the fanfic of it, but I would have loved to see Akeela have an ill-advised one-night stand with one of the twins (and, get real, probably it would be Arthur) or see Dash and Vega go on adorable dates together (I have a feeling that Vega is a secret romantic).

Still, I kind of loved this show, and I’m sad to see it go. The good news is that as endings go, this is a great one. If there’s never another episode, I can be happy that the show is going out with some dignity and on a high note.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Wally and Agatha are obviously in love with each other, right?  What a sad, doomed, and slightly creepy romance to toss in at the last minute.
  • I never knew how much Andromeda meant to Arthur. I think the show always intended for Arthur to secretly be the soft-hearted precog sibling, and that would make his reaction to her death make more sense, but it’s one of the many things the writers either neglected or never got a chance to really develop.
  • I wish Dash wasn’t so boring. Agatha may say he’s the strong one, and he definitely is the one who is most committed to making use of his abilities, but he never did come alive as a real person.
  • Whoever designed Megan Good’s costumes throughout this whole series deserves an award. Or at least a pat on the back, because she always looked amazing.
  • Excellent use of Akeela and Blake this week. I still very much think that the show should have gotten Blake more involved with the precogs much earlier.
  • Vega standing over the milk bath as Agatha foresaw was perfectly executed, and Wally’s final decision to kill Blomfeld was legitimately surprising and interesting.

Minority Report: “Memento Mori” is a solid set up for next week’s finale

We’re up to what is likely the penultimate episode of Minority Report, and it feels like the show is just now starting to hit a new and more comfortable stride as it’s moved away from the case-of-the-week format that it stuck to earlier in the season. “Memento Mori” delves deeper into the conspiracy our protagonists brushed up against last week as well as the DIA’s plot to re-enslave the precogs. Even more than I did last week, I feel like this is the show that Minority Report should always have been.

The show has always been at its best when it explores its larger themes and elaborates on its overarching plot, and it’s been doing more and more of that as it nears its probable ending. It may be too little, too late to save the show (though it’s still not officially cancelled), and it’s still not entirely living up to the potential of its premise, but it’s been an enjoyable couple of weeks.

The best scene of this week was Dash, Vega, Blake, and Akeela all hanging out together at the beginning of the episode, and I’m terribly sad that this is almost certainly the only time we’ll get to see this happen. It’s nice to see Dash in a somewhat normal environment, and I like seeing the whole team spending time together doing something not murder-related. It’s a chance for us to see the chemistry between Vega and Blake, though it’s also one more reason to be bummed about the impending cancellation of the series. Personally, I’ve always rather liked the idea of Vega and Dash together, but Vega and Blake would have worked, too. I don’t always care for romantic drama in these kinds of shows, but a little more romance would have helped to soften the often unlikeable Vega, especially if the show never intended to do much with her family relationships or her friendship with Akeela.

Dash does have a vision this week, and there is a case, this is all stuff that ties into the bigger intrigues and ideas behind the show. A senator who is working to pass a bill allowing genetic tinkering with fetuses is the target of a politically motivated attack, and it’s tied back to the Memento Mori terrorist group that we were introduced to last week. The ideas introduced in this plot are only tangentially related to the bigger things going on in the show as well as getting a little garbled in their delivery, but it mostly works even if viruses don’t work at all the way the show’s writers seem to think they do.

The most important things that are happening in this episode concern the DIA and Blomfield’s plan to recapture and use the precogs. Early in the episode, Arthur tries to get Blake to blackmail someone in the DIA in order to put an end to Blomfield’s machinations, but Blake refuses in no uncertain terms. When Arthur gets someone else to do his dirty work, Blomfield turns to the private sector to keep his plans moving forward. When Blomfield turns up at Wally’s place looking for the precogs, we finally get to see Blomfield becoming a truly terrifying villain. Wally manages to be momentarily successful at getting Blomfield and his thugs to leave him alone, but Blomfield is already pretty successful at finding the precogs without Wally’s assistance.

Before the end of the episode, Blomfield has managed to locate Agatha, who goes to Arthur after being flushed from her hiding place on Libertarian Island (or whatever). Agatha is still having the vision of Vega standing over them in the milk bath, and now her vision shows Vega ordering some unseen person to “put them in.” This ominous revelation caps off the episode, and we’re all set up for next week’s finale.

Minority Report: “American Dream” offers a glimpse of a different, better show

After a week without an episode, Minority Report is back with one that reminds me of a lot of the things that initially attracted me to the show in the first place. “American Dream” isn’t great, but it is good, and it’s definitely the most I’ve enjoyed this show in a while.

This episode does something that I think is one of the best things it could have done at this point: it lets Vega’s boss, Blake, in on the precog secret. Blake has been completely underutilized up to this point, which is a shame, but “American Dream” does its best to make up for lost time, with Blake joining Vega and Dash to investigate an impending murder in the poor, immigrant neighborhood where Blake himself grew up.

We learn that in 2025 the US government granted citizenship to some ten million undocumented immigrants, but that the “compromise” (in the true, Republican sense of the word) negotiated in exchange for that amnesty was the repeal of the 14th Amendment. Blake was one of the unfortunate children born in the US after that repeal, as was this week’s pre-murder suspect. The episode spends most of its time exploring what that status means to the people who are affected by it, focusing heavily on Blake’s experiences as a child of immigrants and a member of a marginalized community. This is definitely the best job the show has done to date with integrating world building with character development, though it does turn a little after school special in the end.

My biggest complaint about this episode is that it doesn’t manage to dig deep enough into any of its big ideas. It also sidelines its female star in favor of exploring a secondary character who they’ve actually made more interesting than either of the leads. Blake’s background is interesting enough that he could have carried a whole series himself, and indeed Wilmer Valderrama does most of the heavy lifting in this episode. Poor Vega exists at a similar-in-some-ways intersection of identities and experiences, but somehow the show just never has managed to really explore those and she’s relegated to background decoration in this episode.

The worst part about all of this is that it indicates, to me, large structural flaws in the whole premise of the show. Vega has suffered all along from poor writing and inconsistent (and unlikable) characterization, and Dash is just bland. These leads have always struggled to distinguish themselves in comparison to more interesting secondary characters, and this episode offers a glimpse of what the show might have been like if they’d centered the narrative around someone else altogether. Blake’s well-drawn background, his naked ambition, and his interesting connection to pre-crime make him far more qualified to be a lead protagonist than Vega has proven to be.

I’ve felt from the very beginning that Minority Report was a show that has a lot of potential, and I’ve spent the last several episodes bemoaning the ways in which the show has failed to live up to its early promise. It’s nice to see the show exploring some of its more interesting ideas, even if it is almost certainly too little too late. It feels obvious to me after this episode that the show’s writers just have never known what to do with Vega and should probably have chosen a character they could have written well from the start.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • The more I think about all this, the more it makes me angry for Megan Good, who I think has done the best she can with the material she’s been handed.
  • Wilmer Valderrama is ridiculously handsome and charismatic.
  • I about lost it when that guy got a drone in the face. That was the funniest thing that has ever happened on this show, if for no other reason than it was a pretty random thing to have happen.
  • I also about lost it when that guy tore a page out of a first edition of The Origin of Species. I know it’s a prop, but still.

Minority Report: Sadly, I think I’m done with this show

“Honor Among Thieves” is another middling-to-bad episode of this almost-certainly doomed show, and I think this is likely the last episode I will have anything to say about. Even now, my thoughts on Minority Report are primarily general thoughts and disappointment that the show wasn’t better than it’s turned out to be.

This week’s episode was a pretty classic monster/case-of-the-week format, which worked marginally better than a couple of previous similar ones have for the show, but it still just didn’t make a lot of sense. I didn’t understand how Vega got fooled by the fake EMTs in the beginning of the episode, and it’s really all downhill from there as the story continues to develop.

There are a lot of flashbacks this week, detailing the removal of the precogs from the original milk bath and their initial release into the world, which apparently consisted of little more than a “Whoops! Sorry!” and a fat paycheck from the government before they were tossed out into the streets in a bad part of town and left to their own devices. On the one hand, that would be pretty much expected behavior for the US government. On the other hand, I have a very hard time believing that the kind of evil government that would enslave children would then encourage them to disappear so completely without some way of keeping track of them.

It’s also just plain painful to see how naïve the precogs were, especially the boys. It definitely helps to provide a little more understanding of why Agatha thinks they can’t take care of themselves. That said, I do not buy at all the idea that, in the beginning, it was Arthur who was the soft-hearted one who just wanted to help people. Even if that was the case, there’s really no hint in this episode of how or why Arthur and Dash so completely swapped opinions. I’m also not sure why they even bothered unveiling this bit of history this late in the season, especially when the rest of the episode goes on to further establish Arthur as a pretty big deal in the international organized crime scene. It doesn’t add depth to his character; rather, it makes him seem a hypocrite.

This episode also marks the first time that I haven’t enjoyed the show at least a little bit. Any sense of fun that the show has had up to this point seems to have drained out of it, and all that’s left seems to be a grim determination to finish these ten episodes so everyone can move along to other, hopefully more successful projects. I will probably finish watching the series, but I doubt I’ll be writing about it unless it somehow gets incredibly good sometime in the next three weeks. Right now, though, the show has become its own wet blanket.

Minority Report: “Fiddler’s Neck” could have been a nice change of pace, but ends up being a little dull

The more I watch Minority Report, the more I come to terms with all the reasons why this show is almost certainly going to be cancelled after just one ten-episode arc. It makes me a little sad because I think the show, in the beginning, had a lot of potential, but it’s basically all been squandered with bad writing and ill-conceived plots.

“Fiddler’s Neck” takes us to the weird Luddite island where Dash and Arthur grew up after the end of precrime and where Agatha still lives. It’s a nice change of pace, although the episode more or less maintains the case-of-the-week format that has previously been established. This time, though, we get lots of Agatha-related flashbacks, as this week’s case involves the daughter of her old flame. We also finally get to see Agatha and Vega in the same room, which I have mixed feelings about.

Fiddler’s Neck, apparently, used to be a peninsula and is only an island as a result of global warming. We even get a shot of the ruins of an amusement park to show how bad the global warming and coastal flooding is. Fiddler’s Neck is also, apparently, a refuge for libertarians, anti-vaxxers, and natural-living folks of all types. It’s basically so backward the US government gave up on trying to control it, and so it’s a place governed by its own sort of local militia—which turns out to just be a group of crooked rednecks with shotguns. It makes sense, I guess, why the precogs would end up there, but it also makes a lot of sense that Dash and Arthur would get the hell out as soon as they could.

Most of this episode was in service to giving us a better idea of who Agatha is, which I was excited about since she’s been one of the more consistently interesting characters on the show. It turns out, however, that she’s actually kind of boring. Certainly, her doomed love story with the guy who hired her to work on his farm when she first came to the island is dull and cliché, anyway.

I had high hopes for Agatha and Vega together, but even that didn’t really pay off. Agatha was coldly aloof, and Vega spent most of the episode just looking like she smelled something nasty. There were no sparks, no big arguments, and no major meeting of the minds between these two, and I felt like the end of the episode signified nothing more than a return to the status quo. With only ten episodes to work with, I hate to see any episode do as little as this one did to either provide interesting exposition or further the plot.

I’m so sad about this show. It’s one that I think started off with a lot of things going for it, but week after week it continues to fail to deliver on a premise that ought to be really interesting. Instead, Minority Report has turned out to be just a second-rate cop show with some flashy sci-fi window dressing. It’s likable lead actors do the best they can with poor scripts and boring stories, but their charm really only goes so far.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • This was an excellent episode for world building, which would have been awesome if it was the second or third episode of the series. This late in the game, it feels superfluous, especially since the most interesting parts don’t really contribute much to the main story.
  • The B-plot, which had Akeela discovering an investigation of Blake and then going to Wally for help, was just awful. Disconnected from the main plot, poorly written, badly executed, and Wally was really unnecessarily nasty to Akeela.
  • I laughed out loud when Vega was trying to show how big she thinks an ear of corn is.

Minority Report: “The Present” is mostly about delving into the past

I’m increasingly feeling very, very alone in my affection for this show, but even this big old mess of an episode hasn’t turned me off entirely. In fact, I think part of my loyalty to the show is exactly because it’s such a disaster, and “The Present” has unfortunate writing and story decisions in spades.

Up until now, Vega has remained a fairly undeveloped character, but this is her episode. It’s been strongly hinted at since the beginning that the reason Vega got into police work and the reason she was so interested in pre-crime was due to a personal tragedy, and this is the week that we finally learn all about it. Yes, “The Present” is Lara Vega’s origin story.

The episode opens with a flashback to a rainy night in 2048, where a different Officer Vega is patrolling a dark alley (called “the Sprawl” of all things) on foot, by himself, whistling and checking his pocket watch, in the pouring rain, (ominously) eight months before pre-crime. His body cam badge flickers off and he starts to get scared–because, really, there is absolutely no way this perfectly cliche scene was ever not going to end with him getting murdered–then turns around and gets shot. After, we see a guy with no eyes walking away.

As ridiculously over-the-top comic book-like as this is, it wouldn’t stand out nearly so much if the rest of the episode supported this kind of melodrama, but it doesn’t. Instead, most of the rest of “The Present” is just Vega being awful to pretty much every single person she comes in contact with because apparently she and her dad shared a birthday, and she’s got feelings about it. Add in some serious ethics violations and straight up police brutality, and Vega comes off here as extremely unlikable at best. At worst, she’s an absolute monster who should have her badge taken away and never be allowed near a firearm ever again.

There was just so much in “The Present” that doesn’t make sense.

  • Why would a police officer be walking on patrol in the rain through an uninhabited dystopian wasteland alone in the first place?  I mean, what legit police business could he have there all by himself?
  • Is it really necessary for Vega to be so unilaterally terrible to everyone? It’s really grating, and not even a little bit endearing, especially since she’s actually pretty self-aware about it. If she’s aware that she’s being so awful, couldn’t she have even the tiniest bit of self-control? Instead, she just spews her feelings on everyone.
  • Vega doesn’t seem like a big enough sports fan to really want a 45-year-old team jersey. It’s older than she is, for goodness’ sake.
  • Also, even if the Washington team did change its name, and even if they did for some reason only make 500 fan jerseys that year, they would be rare collectibles. You wouldn’t wear them (and certainly wouldn’t let a young child wear one), as they would be fairly expensive pieces of memorabilia.
  • Are Vega and Akeela really such good friends that Akeela would spring for such an expensive birthday gift? I mean, we keep being told that they’re friends, but we only get to actually see it in rare flashes.
  • Why does Arthur even bother acting all cool and in control and putting up a fight? Five episodes in, and it’s very clear that he’s a total pushover for his brother and, rather inexplicably, Vega.
  • If Agatha is wrong about Vega, why aren’t Dash and Arthur a little more proactive in figuring out what Agatha is actually right about? We know that all three of the precogs have visions, and those visions are demonstrably real. It just seems to me that ensuring their continued freedom ought to be more of a priority.
  • Why does Wally have so much equipment? Yes, he explained how he got it, but that explanation made no sense.
  • I think it’s great that ex-criminals can be reformed and stuff, but it seems unlikely that one would be put in charge of a rehabilitation center. And why would she keep a trophy from the time she murdered someone for drug money out in plain sight?
  • And “make it look like a mugging” is all well and good, but who mugs an on-duty police officer?

I’m sure there was more, but I’m really feeling a little overwhelmed by how much sense this episode didn’t make. There were a few cool things, but they all seem inconsequential in comparison to the incredible amount of nonsense going on in “The Present.”

  • Love the body cam integrated into the badge. This actually seems like a useful and sensible invention.
  • Washington Red Clouds could work, although 2019 might be a little too optimistic as a date for the name change.
  • Dash presenting Vega with birthday flowers was adorable.

Until next week. I don’t watch previews for this show, so I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Probably something absurd. I’m still enjoying this show, but it’s firmly in guilty pleasure territory now. I hate to say it, but I think Fox made the right call in cutting their order for it. Only five episodes to go!