Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on Almost Human — Fox’s new human-android, near-future (2048) police drama — creator/executive producer J.H. Wyman called the new series “more accessible” than Fringe, the previous sci-fi series from the JJ Abrams team. During the panel, Wyman joked that Fringe survived 5 years on Fox despite low ratings due to “the incredible taste” of Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. He acknowledged that the former series had its own mythology but “as the story evolved it wasn’t exactly clear.” The new series, he said, “is a police drama. This is about hardworking brave people in the front lines of a future that is just a stone’s throw away.” He said “We don’t look at episodic television as a bad word” and added that the series would “present a compelling case every week that involves these characters.” He and executive producer Naren Shankar stressed that they are not creating a dystopian future, but one in which good trumps evil.
After the session, Wyman was quick to say his onstage comments weren’t intended to diss Fringe. “I’m very proud of Fringe,” he said. But he joked it was show that people either loved or hated and added that not everyone is ready for a dose of string theory on TV. “I think this is more accessible because people don’t seem to want to think about science when they come home from work.”
The producers were asked about a story line in the pilot that hints that the human detective may have had an android father. The producers said there is no guarantee that subsequent episodes will confirm this. “I’m not sure which pilot some of you saw — we shot a pilot with two endings,” Wyman said. He admitted that a pilot is “designed to be a sales tool” for show buyers” and the idea was to be “as provocative as we could”. Said Wyman: “JJ and I had the intention of that story line being somewhere, but not necessarily his father being a robot. Now that we are fortunate enough to get picked up, we can absolutely say his father is going to be a part of the series.” When asked how a human could have an android father, Wyman replied mysteriously: “That would assume that the father was a robot forever, and not a replacement…”
Wyman and Shankar appeared on the panel with cast members Minka Kelly, Lili Taylor, Mackenzie Crook, Michael Irby and Karl Urban and Michael Ealy, who star as human detective John Kennex and his android-with-feelings partner Dorian. Ealy said his biggest fear about taking an android role is that his character might not have a love life. His fear was confirmed — sort of — when the producers were asked if android characters can “get it on” sexually. “I would go on record as saying that’s not going to happen,” Wyman said.