Fox’s promising sci-fi drama Almost Human got a late start this fall, so it makes sense that it should be one of the remaining series to air a new episode this week, while many of the other fall TV comedies and dramas on network television have already gone on break. However, last night’s episode was the last new ep we’ll see of Almost Human until January. The preview for “Arrhythmia” teases what’s ahead, including the arrival of recurring guest star John Larroquette.
When Fox announced that Larroquette (Night Court) was set to recur as a guest star in Almost Human, they told us that he’d be playing a genius roboticist who is “sympathetic, highly intelligent and a bit broken.” We might be able to apply that description to Dorian, though I don’t like to think Michael Ealy’s character is broken so much as he is a bit unpredictable, which I guess could qualify as “broken” when describing a robot. But as a character who’s almost human, it just makes Dorian… well, human. So it’s particularly interesting to note that Larroquette’s character — this sympathetic, highly intelligent and a bit broken man — is the man who created Dorian, a sympathetic, highly intelligent and a bit broken robot. It’s a rare occasion that I feel compelled to quote the bible when writing about TV… or in any other circumstance really, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a biblical analogy to be made here, if we revisit Genesis 1:27, which says that God created man in his own image. Michael Ealy doesn’t resemble Larroquette physically, but perhaps we’ll see some connections between man and machine on a more emotional level between Dorian and his creator.
We’ve been getting to know Dorian a bit more each week on Almost Human. Last night’s episode in particular shined a light on the DRN model, as Dorian sympathized with a fellow DRN, who -- like most of the other DRNs -- had been sidelined from his police duties and reset to work as a mechanic. I kind of expected the ride-along DRN to be some kind of demonstration to us that Dorian is somehow special, even among his model. I was wrong to assume that -- at least, in this case -- as it turned out, this other DRN is like Dorian in that he's programmed to want to be a cop. It’s in his robot DNA, as is probably the case for all of the other DRNs, most of which have presumably either been bagged or set up to fix things.
What was clear from the ride-along DRN was that the reset hasn't suppressed his desire to do police work. We also learned that DRNs can experience pride and satisfaction, not only in having done their job, but also in receiving gratitude from people they've helped. For the ride-along DRN, it was the hug he received from a child whose life he saved. That memory struck me as a prime example of what really sets the DRNs apart from other models, as it’s a demonstration of how human they are when it comes to how they think, feel and view their work. The same applies to Dorian’s choice to leave that one memory in the DRN’s mind before dropping him back off at his job, probably knowing that having that one memory of pride will give him some peace, or if not, some sense of satisfaction at having once done what he was designed to do.
The crime solving element is what moves each episode forward in Almost Human, but it’s the exploration of Dorian and Kennex’s characters that has me hooked. And those great car-ride scenes where Dorian and Kennex banter. I’m still chuckling over Kennex’s reaction to seeing that ken-doll robot wandering around the locker room in last week’s episode, and the resulting conversation he had with Dorian about it, wondering of Dorian was anatomically correct. “Is that all for one person?” Love it.
Almost Human returns Monday, January 6 on Fox.