“Can You See?” Well, Kinda Wish I Hadn’t: The Minority Report TV Show

minority report promoWell, the premiere of Minority Report hit TV last night, and it was… okay? I was hoping to use the premiere as an excuse to rewatch the 2002 movie, but after a fruitless afternoon of searching, there was no sign of my DVD, so I had to give it up. Even without a rewatch of the movie, though, it was clear that Minority Report the TV show was not going to carry the same gravitas as the movie did.

In 2065, the PreCrime program has been shut down, and the D.C. police force has to figure things out by themselves. Detective Lara Vega is pretty displeased by this, since PreCrime was one of the reasons she became a cop and now she thinks of her job as just “mopping up the messes”. The precogs who made up PreCrime—Agatha and the twins, Dashiell and Arthur—were sent away to a remote island after PreCrime was discontinued, so that they could live their lives in peace. Agatha is still there, but both Dash and Arthur have come back to D.C. in different fashions—Dash wants to help people, and Arthur only wants to use his gift to get people’s social security numbers and bank accounts and get rich. So Dash is the only one to team up with Vega to try and take down a terrorist who’s intent on killing the guy running to be mayor of D.C.

redcloudsThe premiere seemed very procedural compared to the original movie, but there were things in it that I found interesting. For example, I really enjoyed the technological and cultural worldbuilding that went into the premiere. I don’t honestly think D.C. will be this advanced in fifty years—I live in the D.C. area, and after years of expensive delays, we still haven’t finished the Silver line—but it was pretty cool to see. I particularly love the rebranding of the D.C. football team—the Washington Redclouds have a cute, less problematic name and logo (though it’s still somewhat problematic). Dash listens to a “classic” pop song, Iggy Azalea’s “Trouble”, on vinyl, and on his way to try and stop a murder, goes through Bartlet Plaza, named, of course, for the West Wing president. Sans the Iggy Azalea music, it seems like a pretty cool D.C. to live in.

Our new characters (i.e. the ones not from the original movie) are a little cookie-cutter, but there’s a lot there to build on. Vega is your general no-nonsense cop who reminds me a lot of Abbie Mills from Sleepy Hollow—Abbie is Black and Vega’s actress is multiracial, and both characters are stern and dedicated. Then we have Vega’s ex and fellow detective, Will Blake, played by Fez from That 70’s Show. The actor looks very different from his sitcom days, but still sounds exactly like Fez, so it really threw me off for a bit. Blake and Vega have some weird unexplored issues from their breakup, but although they snark with each other, they can still put it aside to work together at least semi-professionally, which thankfully clears us (for now) of senseless drama and communication holdups. Finally, there’s Akeela, Vega’s techie, who’s clearly of Asian heritage, though we haven’t got much with her yet. I certainly hope she becomes more of a main character in later episodes, since Dash spent a lot of the first episode running past Asians doing stereotypically Asian things, like tai-chi and drumming at a Chinese festival. Anyway, all our new characters of note are characters of color, and the rest of future D.C. is similarly populated with characters of color, including the mayorial candidate. For a first episode, that’s pretty good.

minority report newbiesHowever, though all the characters will hopefully grow into less clichéd roles as we go on, there are some dynamics between the characters that I’m already worried about. As I said in my review of the trailer, we already have many, many TV shows with a ~special~ white guy and a more ordinary partner, but that dynamic is exactly what we get with Dash and Vega. Dash’s growing up on a remote island means that he’s unsure what’s socially acceptable and what’s not, and he ends up telling people things that he sees about them in visions, similar to how the BBC’s Sherlock rudely deduces things about people to their faces. At the end of the episode, he saves Vega, and Vega makes sure to tell him (and the audience) that it’s thanks to him that all the people at the rally lived. And in one weird scene, Dash finds a picture of Vega in a bikini and enlarges it out of “curiosity”, coincidentally around the breast area. Great. Dash’s involvement in cop affairs also seems questionable—Dash insisting that they have to keep his identity as a precog hidden makes sense, given what we saw of the PreCrime program, but it also acts as a handy limiting excuse, so that Vega and Dash have to take down a terrorist with a bioweapon on their own, without significant firepower or numbers. Sure, it raises the stakes, but I can see it getting old and unbelievable fast.

At least the show does seem like it’s interested in discussing the themes of the movie. But it’s hard to tell how successful it will be just from the premiere. What we do have also seems a little clichéd. Vega, the hardass cop, is very into PreCrime from the start, believing that capturing killers before they kill is much better than finding the victim’s body and trying to arrest someone from there. She doesn’t learn about the moral quandaries that surrounded PreCrime until late in the episode, and even then, finding out seems to have no real effect on what she thinks. Throughout the episode, she shows very little sympathy for those affected by PreCrime, because she thinks that the predicted murders are destiny and so-called “future killers” are just as guilty as regular killers. (And the show doesn’t help—it’s assumed that all of Dash’s visions will come to pass, because how else would a cop procedural work?) Dash, as an integral part of the PreCrime program, nevertheless decides that he doesn’t want to live on an island, he wants to help people. We don’t know why he wants to help people, only that he does, and when his visions cause him to black out and lose time (similar to how he suffered in the PreCrime program), he doesn’t complain or even seem taken aback by it. Such is his dedication to The Cause.

A worried Agatha appears via hologram.

A worried Agatha appears via hologram.

It’s too early to tell if Minority Report the TV show is going to deal with what is, in my opinion, the most interesting line in Minority Report the movie: “It helps if you don’t think of them [the precogs] as human.” But given the last scene we get of Agatha and Arthur, both of whom seem afraid that they’ll be forcibly shoved back into PreCrime, it seems like this is an issue the show is willing to delve into. However, I also don’t know how successful they’ll be here. Vega gets closest to this issue when she asks the Caretaker, who used to work with the precogs, if there isn’t a way to get into Dash’s head so that she can see what Dash is seeing, like they could do in the days of the old PreCrime program. The Caretaker says yes, and Dash agrees to it, but when Dash sits down and the Caretaker puts the neural interface over his head, Dash is obviously afraid and possibly experiencing some kind of mental flashback. Vega is bothered by his reaction, but in yet another example of white manpain, Dash tells the Caretaker to keep going until they can see his whole vision. Agatha and Arthur are afraid that Vega is only using Dash as a tool to further her police career, and she might be—but from the premiere, it’s possible that neither Vega nor Dash will meaningfully deal with what it means for a human being to have visions that another human being depends on.

It doesn’t look like Minority Report got good ratings for its premiere, so it’s not guaranteed to stay on the air for very long. Despite my extremely mixed opinions about it, though, I’ll probably give the show a couple more chances before I give up on it. What can I say—I liked the 2002 movie too much, and now it’s coming back to bite me in the ass. What did you think of the premiere? Let me know in the comments.

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5 thoughts on ““Can You See?” Well, Kinda Wish I Hadn’t: The Minority Report TV Show

    • Man, the Blindspot premiere got SO MUCH about the Chinese language wrong, but somehow I still found it way more compelling than Minority Report, whose characters continue not to gell for me. (Sorry, super late response to this!)

      • Haha no worries! Yeah, I know what you mean about Minority Report, too! I stopped watching after the second episode. Right now, I’m sticking with Scream Queens and Gotham, but I’m hoping that Super Girl will be good too when it airs like next week or whenever it’s coming on.

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