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Almost Human “Are You Receiving?” Review: The Buddy Cop Formula is Working

By on November 26, 2013

Michael Ealy (L) and Karl Urban (R) in FOX's Almost Human. Co. Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX

We continue our Almost Human journey with “Are You Receiving” this week, giving us a better idea of what to expect on a week to week basis.

The premiere set up the premise of the futuristic buddy cop drama with Fringe-like undertones and funny banter straight out of Lethal Weapon.  This week continued with an even lighter tone and more humorous moments between our leads.  John Kennex (Karl Urban) isn’t quite as grumpy setting up for some more robromance moments with his partner, android with feelings, Dorian (Michael Ealy).

The episode begins with Kennex waking up, then waking his synthetic leg up, which says it’s charged to capacity. He looks at the thing with disgust as it sits on the counter like some trophy in a case.  He ends up rubbing olive oil on what’s left of his real leg – a suggestion from Dorian last week. Already taking advice from his new friend, the writers are developing the relationship at warp speed, but I’ll bite.  These two seem like they need something, so it works that they’ll be using quick bond.

Meanwhile, we see some bad men take over a building creating a hostage situation on the 25th floor. There’s our crime of the week. We know from the beginning that people will be saved and that our guys won’t be in any real danger.  The tone is humorous without either man taking themselves too seriously. They make their way up despite the protest of Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) who tells them to leave the building.  Now. Kennex fakes a broken line and pretends he can’t hear the directive, even breaking up his voice and mentioning Christmas before cutting off communication. Funny stuff.

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, L).  Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, L). Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

Having Dorian as a partner gets better and better.  He begins taking emergency calls from the building, and we learn he can imitate any voice.  He does a female Portuguese  voice and then switches to Kennex’s voice making fun of how robotic he is.  You know that skill’s going to come in handy, if not for a case, at least for messing with people. Oh, the trouble those two could get into with that.

The bad guys show they mean business by shooting a hostage and throw him out of a window with a sign reading, “No Cops.”  Hmmm, I think they may have a problem with law enforcement. Maldonado makes contact with the bad guys when a cool drone floats up to the 25th and drops a phone in.  The cold blooded killers say they need a fission igniter. About that same time a facial recognition program identifies the hostage takers as the Holy Reclamation Army. Holy crap!  The Holy Reclamation Army wants a fission igniter!  I don’t know what that means, but it sounds bad.

In the sweet moment of the episode to really drive home the point that Kennex is the damaged cop with real girl feelings hidden inside that muscular 2% body fat body, he bonds with a hostage hiding under a desk. She’s terrified and kind of loud under that desk.  Her little sister is being held hostage as well since it was bring your sis to danger day at work. John tells her a story of how he fell through the ice when he was little while fishing with his dad because the under desk/under ice connection is one we can all relate to.  His point is that he was afraid, but he felt like everything was going to be okay when he felt his dad grab him.  Knowing he wasn’t alone made everything okay.  He tells Paige she’s not alone.  “I’m with you.”

On the way up, our heroes run into a bad guy on 15 who wants to play shoot out and hurt our handsome guys.  He shoots Dorian in the head before being killed.  Never fear, this droid takes a licking but keeps on ticking.  Dorian needs a quick repair and Kennex does his best even using gum to get his buddy back on his feet.  Dorian tells him to cut the magenta looking wire, but John doesn’t speak girl colors.  He cuts the wrong one, temporarily knocking out Dorian and complaining, “There are fifty shades of purple in there.”  C’mon John, pull out your color wheel and find magenta.

While Dorian’s out, Kennex tries to keep hostage Paige calm by sharing that his real name isn’t John.  It’s Batman.  No, it’s much worse…it’s Reginald.  It seems that Mama Kennex was a huge Elton John fan.  Awkward sexually confused conversation over when he reboots Dorian who’s ready for action.  They discover the dead baddie is wearing a Flavor Flav-like clock around his neck that’s a face maker!  Cool tech moment of the night is when they turn off the device and the young African American man they killed turns into an older white guy.  Awesome!  Again, the possibilities of shenanigans with this thing are endless.

It’s not the Holy Moses Army, but just a heist to lift precious metals in a nearby building. Dorian says he’s going the rest of the way alone. He was built for this.  John protests, saying, “Don’t quit me!”  Not really.  Dorian tarzans it up the air duct and almost takes out all the bad guys. The main criminal has a gun pointed at our favorite android’s head and wants to know his name.  “I’ve never killed a man I didn’t know. Then again you’re not a man.”  Kennex shows up in the nick of time to save his partner.  Whew, I was worried. Not so much.


Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R) assists Dorian (Michael Ealy, L). Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R) assists Dorian (Michael Ealy, L). Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

John and Dorian get back to the station to applause. Kennex wants to throw caution to the wind and go get some noodles.  “You are aware I don’t eat?” asks Dorian. “Perfect. I’m buying,” deadpans Kennex.  See, that’s the funny banter I was talking about.

The best robromance moment of the night comes at the end with Dorian thanking Kennex for saving his life. He says when the gun was at his head he “didn’t want to die.” This definitely reminds me of the Rutger Hauer/Harrison Ford moment in Blade Runner when Hauer realizes he’s doomed, life over.  It’s a poignant moment further cementing the relationship between the two cops.  But because this show isn’t going there, at least for long, it ends with Elton John belting out Benny and the Jets on the radio, Dorian singing along.  Kennex calls mercy and begs him to stop.  “Whatever you say, Reggie,” Dorian deadpans.

My expectations were high after last week’s promising two night premiere, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I fully expected the formulaic solving of a crime, but I was surprised at how light and funny the episode was with the witty banter coming across as natural and not forced. The dialogue was a highlight of the episode in this two man show.  And make no mistakes about it, this is a two man show.  Urban and Ealy carry this show, and the chemistry between the two will make it or break it.  We’re only three episodes in, but I say the actors will make it.  They have an easy way with each other and their humor and teasing had me laughing out loud. This is an entertaining show. I expect it will continue to be an entertaining show.  I’m not going in looking for the cure for cancer or for it to revolutionize the buddy cop drama formula. I’m tuning in each week expecting laughs, more bonding, and a few touchy feely moments.  As long as those things keep showing up, I’ll keep showing up.  Let’s hope everyone else does also.  I’m already looking forward to next week.  Maybe Dorian will serenade Kennex with Rocket Man?  One can only hope.

Random Notes

  • Detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) looks extremely upset that Kennex is in harm’s way. I give it two, three episodes tops before their goo goo eyes turn into a predictable, but cute romance.
  • Rudy Lom, aka Q, designs a “fake fission igniter” to throw off the bad guys.  Say that ten times real quick.  I think I just said a bad word.
  • Hostage Paige is played by guest star Emily Rios.  Thank God, Andrea from Breaking Bad lives. Girl, last time I saw you, Todd was making a bullet go through your brain.
  •  In the “Now you see me, now you don’t, I’m gonna make you think you’re crazy” moment, Paige comes out from the desk to join her sister.  The bad guys don’t even notice the plus one.  If you order within the next five minutes, for just $9.99 you get an additional hostage. What a deal!
  • In the low tech moment of the night, our guys notice that the bad guys are communicating from building to building with these little plastic disks.  Wow, it’s like those cans attached by a string but different.


One Comment

  1. Dane

    November 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    “It seems that Mama Kennex was a huge Elton John fan.” – Not Mama Kennex, PAPA Kennex.

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