The Sept. 21 premiere of Minority Report on Fox proves, once again, that putting the Steven Spielberg label on a product is no guarantee of top quality contents.
Joining such lackluster Spielberg small screen science fiction offerings as Under the Dome, Extant and Falling Skies, this series focuses on the lives of three precognitive siblings a decade after the controversial Precrime Program featured in the 2002 film of the same name has ended.
The 2065 society depicted in the television series has decided that arresting people for crimes they were only contemplating might somehow be a violation of their rights. This realization did not free those imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, which one might guess should be the next logical legal step. That decision works from a plot standpoint for the opener, giving the writers a seething pool of injustice from which to draw villains.
One of the precogs, Dash (Stark Sands) has left the remote island home the government had provided to insulate the siblings from society and has come to Washington, D.C. Back among murderous humanity, he is getting visions of future murders. He is not getting enough information to get to the scene in time to prevent the crime.
Details of the murders reside in the mind of his twin brother, Arthur (Nick Zano). The missing piece of Dash’s mind, Arthur had left the island refuge years earlier, but the pair are not currently on speaking terms over what appears to be lifestyle issues.
Dash’s visions are apparently painful, as Sands convincingly conveys. His impression of a man having a seizure beats even that of the late, great John Belushi.
Enter homicide detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good). As she investigates the murder of a nurse thrown from an apartment window, Vega quickly marks Dash as a person of interest. Once she realizes that he is one of the never publicly identified precogs, she just as quickly — perhaps too quickly — accepts him as a partner.
Good’s lines come across as a bit wooden. Maybe she’s just watched a few too many episodes of Law and Order. Her character does seem to soften a little toward the end of the premiere.
The saving grace of this show may be the setting. Fox did not skimp on the special effects eye candy.
Unlike so many science fiction television offerings, including 12 Monkeys and The 100, the world depicted here is not dystopian. Much of what is seen only extrapolates from what we’re seeing today.
We see an aerial view of maglev trains speeding down tracks, making precision track changes, detaching and reattaching cars on the fly, missing collisions by millimeters and microseconds. I don’t see Amtrak evolving into anything that in my lifetime.
A wristband camera transforms into a quadcopter for taking selfies. No cell phone on a stick for these kids.
The unpolitically correct Washington Reskins have become the Washington Redclouds. The new name undoubtedly still strikes fear into the hearts of the opponents they meet in the gridiron field of battle. Certainly beats the Washington Milktoasts.
A fast food robocook, complete with a hat, looks like the love child of Will Robinson’s best friend and a runaway jukebox. No need to cry “danger,” however, because, as Lara observes, french fries are no longer unhealthy, thanks to the “genetic revolution.”
In Lara’s apartment, a video screen advertises “The Simpsons Season 75 Spectacular.” It’s good to know that Fox has made a 50-year commitment to keep airing its greatest achievement.
Lara totes what seems to be a gun that substitutes sonic waves for bullets. This shootin’ iron can knock a suspect clear across a room and, in one case, render one quite deceased. Did she forgot to set the gun on “stun?”
Advertising is all-invasive. Dash looks out a maglev window and is assailed by a video telling him he looks stressed and should try some baked goods. A booze bottle label features an animated video label. OK, maybe this aspect of 2065 qualifies as dystopian.
Minority Report falls somewhere between Battle Star Galactica (the remake) great and last season of Falling Skies terrible. It’s exact location within that quality spectrum remains to be seen. I am willing to devote at least another 40 minutes and a bag of Cheetos to finding out.