Criminal minds past and future

In futuristic 2048, with crime at a violent high due to advanced weapons and technology, human cops are partnered with androids with enhanced police skills in Almost Human.

Detective John Kennex (New Zealand actor Karl Urban of The Lord Of The Rings), recovering from a long coma, does not like or trust the cold, emotionless automaton he has been paired with.

He is haunted by a disastrous video game-like ambush which left him badly injured and his human partner killed, and he blames the incident on the callousness of an android cop.

Since the nosy synthetic being assigned to him keeps questioning and annoying him in the way countless lawmen paired with robots, aliens and whatnot in other dystopian shows have been similarly irritated, he pushes the thing nonchalantly out of his moving car to be crushed into spare parts in a funny moment in the opening episode.

Instead, he chooses Dorian (Common Law's Michael Ealy) who is slated for the scrap heap because he - from a discontinued batch dubbed "the crazy ones" which was infused with "synthetic soul" - is actually too human and hence considered a liability in police operations.

It means, of course, that this is where the juice of Almost Human lies.

I hear you, you have seen this idea in many variations from RoboCop to Judge Dredd (Urban himself played 2012's Dredd) to a 1989 TV series called Alien Nation where human cops were coupled with alien ones.

True, but hold on. Almost Human, as it turns out, is wholly not bad.

First, the human guy here is not all that human while the android is most keen and curious to be one. Kennex, propped up by a mechanical leg (his real one was blown off in that earlier attack), is grumpy, weary and terse like a sullen rock in a bad mood (the man gets edgy flashbacks of his gorgeous but dubious ex-girlfriend who appears to have betrayed him).

Meanwhile, Dorian, assembled as a walking crime lab that can scan, access and process criminal stuff like a computer, is eager to function as a, well, really real person.

Second, since this is primarily a buddy cop series, the chemistry between both dudes is so happily instantaneous I actually think the show went too fast in milking it.

I believe it could have made at least five slamming episodes of both fellas trying to kill each other in man-versus-machine showdowns before embarking on their funny, chummy bromance.

For this, you have to blame both stars for being so easily likeable in their Laurel And Hardy comedy act where one chap is fitted out like a walking toaster and the other is the uncle who more or less owns that toaster.

I am a sucker for police procedural shows, but one with cops who are artificial but not superficial, well, I am sold.

Now, a couple in perfect sync is what makes Bonnie & Clyde tick. More precisely, it makes delectable Brit actress Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) take over the small screen in a big magnetic way as glamorous machine gun moll Bonnie Parker.

I cannot take my eyes off her because she is the ultimate bad girl of my dreams.

You have heard of this gun-some twosome, right?

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Emile Hirsch), her lover, soul mate and partner, were a notorious bandit couple who went on a crime spree robbing banks and shooting people in the American South of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Oscar winners William Hurt and Holly Hunter play the dogged cop chasing them and Bonnie's stoic mum respectively.

Since History Channel is screening this TV flick directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy), it needs to be factual as far as reports, records and eyewitness accounts go.

Which means that, already dragged down by the infernal accents, it is all kind of slow, plodding and repetitive since nobody impartial actually went on the life on the run with B and C except the other members of their gang.

Over the years, the legend of the pair has mutated into our modern era of gals being actually naughty.

This two-parter paints it like a mahogany-coloured art-deco flick of rural restlessness, sex, heat, car chases, public menace and more public defiance in the way these two most wanted persons just drive about openly in broad daylight, since CSI, Law & Order and, I guess, the identikit were not invented yet.

Clyde, it seems, is a man transformed by the energy and passion of Bonnie to break the law but still keeps a cool, careful head. He is the cautious one in the combo who wants to end their crime spree.

Bonnie, conversely, is instinctive, wild, vulnerable and trigger-happy as a small-town Texas waitress with dreams of showbiz - she keeps imagining herself as a ballerina - in the way she enjoys creating and collecting her own headlines like Paris Hilton with a gun.

"If we pull a bigger gun on people, they're gonna do whatever we tell them," goes her logic in upgrading from a small shooter to a big Tommy Gun.

I do not know how much of this is true but I swear this chick is a knockout.

Speaking of danger and money, a quick word about the reality action-adventure series The Hero.

Nine contestants are housed together in an apartment in Panama where the host of the show, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (below), issues them high-octane challenges - hanging down the side of a skyscraper, rappelling down a bridge tower, scurrying into snake-infested bunkers.

The set-up is needlessly confusing with one person dubbed a hero at the end of each episode without anybody actually sent home.

I do not know which genius dreamt this up but I like that it shows that "heroes" can be bribed as Johnson, looking like a muscle-bound devil, tempts some participants with a cash offer bigger than his biceps.

"Take it. Nobody will know," he coaxes with a wide smile.

I kept thinking, Bonnie Parker should be here.

I so want to see her take the loot with a big smile and a sexy wink and drawl: "Sho' hon. That's what ahh am here for."

stlife@sph.com.sg


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