The folks behind the TV sequel to Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report showed segments of the show’s pilot at San Diego Comic-Con. And I laughed. A lot. The problem is that it wasn’t at the parts that were supposed to be funny. This show is in serious denial about how goofy it is.
The Minority Report show is set years after the movie, after PreCrime has been disbanded and the Precogs have been hidden in Witness Protection-like anonymity. One of the Precogs, Dash (played by Stark Sands in the TV series), has returned to Washington, DC, hoping to prevent murders before they happen and save lives. But Dash sees only images from the predicted crimes, and so far, he hasn’t been able to prevent a single murder by himself. But after he fails to save the latest victim, he’s determined to at least help put the murderer away, putting him in the path of homicide detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good).
Minority Report is a campy show that, at least from what I saw, refuses to acknowledge that it is a campy show. The parts of the pilot shown at Comic-Con were very much a proof-of-concept, giving us a quick recap of Dash’s early life and taking us through how his powers work and what happens when he misinterprets his visions. There’s a sense that it wants to be a fairly straight procedural, but with fun futuristic elements thrown in (this isn’t a grim and gritty future despite the return of murder). But I found myself guffawing as I watched the young Precogs witness their first murder (with one of the boys reciting the foul-mouthed cries of the murderer) or as the body of a murder victim fell from a window onto a sightseeing bus. The moments are tonally off, making Dash’s failure to find murderers comedy rather than an urgent problem. (I’m not going to even discuss what happens when the police chase down a perp, except to say that I was shaking my head by the end.)
Also, the show feels the need to constantly reminds you that it is set in the FUTUUUUUUUUURE. Each frame is packed with pieces of futuristic technology and social changes. Sometimes this is charmingly goofy (like a video ad embedded in a subway window with a talking marijuana leaf talking up “baked” goods) and others are amusing comments on current life (a pink selfie drone for preteens). But our heroine wears not one but two cool leather jackets at the same time (one right on top of the other, layered leather). Our hacker chick (who naturally says stuff like “no one hacks my database”) bears asymmetrical makeup and perches on a virtual morgue table/body-sized touch screen computer. When Lara steals someone’s french fry, she compulsively expositions about the genetic revolution that made fried potatoes healthy. But hey, at least everyone still gets drunk at karaoke and spills their best workplace gossip.
Minority Report draws from other genre procedurals like Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human, but so far, it’s missing the key thing that made those shows work (when they do work): character drama. So far, there’s too much emphasis on the flash of the futuristic world and too little on who the characters are and why we should care about them.
In fairness, this may in part be because we only saw a little of the central relationship between the relatively worldly Lara and the formerly isolated Dash. Dash has spent most of his life on a remote island away from other people, so he doesn’t understand how most people operate. He doesn’t understand sarcasm and doesn’t get jokes. Dash’s arc for the first season involves him becoming a more fully realized person.
But don’t expect a romance between him and Lara. After all, the producers explained, this is the first woman aside from his sister whom Dash has spoken to at length for a very long time. Plus, Lara has a romantic history with Wilmer Valderrama’s character Will Blake.
There are other ways that the crew intends to play with the conventions of a police procedural. After all, this show isn’t about solving crimes that have already happened; it’s about stopping them before they happen. Sands told members of the press in a roundtable interview:
It’s illegal to use my visions to stop these murders. The end of the movie told us that they weren’t always right, which leads us into interesting territory. Maybe on some episodes, I’ll see something that isn’t actually going to happen. Maybe I’m the one who saw the wrong thing this time. It leads us down a path where we have to make a choice. We obviously want to stop the murder, but we also have to decide if it’s going to happen or not.
And we’ll also meet Dash’s fraternal twin Arthur, played by Nick Zano. Dash’s particular set of Precog powers means that he intensely feels each death, but his visions are incomplete without Arthur. Sands explained in the same roundtable:
Dash was thought of as the weakest one of the [group of precogs in the film]. I play a twin who only gets the emotions and little glimpses; my twin brother sees the names and the faces, the numbers and the facts. I have the burden of having to live out the painful death of everyone I witness being murdered in my vision, and it’s a workout every time I have to go through that convulsion scene. My abs are getting a good workout.
When we do meet Arthur, we’ll find that he’s a more analytical, more manipulative figure, a sort of Sherlock Holmes type.
There’s also going to be lots more FUTUUUUUUURE stuff, but some of it will be lurking in the background. Apparently, we’ll see evidence that The Simpsons is still on the air.