By Pauline Perenack
One of the few television series to be debuting this fall, FOX’s Next is fact-based thriller about the emergence of a deadly, rogue artificial intelligence that combines pulse-pounding action with an examination of how technology is invading our lives and transforming us in ways we don’t yet understand.
Today’s panel brings together creator and executive producer Manny Coto, and series stars John Slattery, Fernanda Andrade, Michael Mosley, Jason Butler Harner, and Eve Harlow to discuss the new series, and how AI and technology infiltrates all of our lives. As such, a few of the things we learned were:
- Coto got the idea for the show after his son told him that his Alexa started talking to him in the middle of the night. This idea really stuck with Coto, and he found it very creepy. Then that, coupled with Elon Musk sounding the alarm of an AI super intelligence rising, he realized that this possibility is no longer crazy, and playing with how that would look in today’s society was a great jumping off point.
- The show focuses on two brothers played by Slattery and Butler Harner, who end up joining up with Andrade’s FBI cybercrime division to hunt down an AI that is growing and trying to take over the world.
- Harlow was stoked when she read the script because she’s a junkie for this kind of stuff. She’s fascinated about how humanity has adopted so much technology into our lives without really questioning it.
- Coto believes that examining how AI is being used in medicine would be a great second season of the show.
- Mosley’s character is an ex-con who was affiliated with a questionable alt-right fringe group, which got him arrested. Part of his plea deal is he gets to work for the good guys, but you’re never really sure if he’s atoned for his past quite yet – and you’re not sure where his loyalties lie.
- Coto points out that if AI were to rise, it would first play dumb, and then when it discovered that people were onto it, it would work to preserve itself. The way it would do that, would be to go after the individuals’ private lives, and uncover their dark secrets. In the show, it goes after the characters, and stirs things up from their pasts to get in the way of their current journey.
- The series was completed just days before the world shut down, and Coto says that a lot of what happens in the first season is amazingly what is happening now. The show was the first to have a crew member test positive for the virus.
- Andrade discussed how creepy it was to see costar Evan Whitten interact with the AI on the show, because since he’s so young, it was very easy and natural for him to do so.
- Mosley says the show is a thriller, but it’s fun, and Coto points out it’s kind of a manhunt show, but without an actual man. The season happens in a short amount of time, so everything happens really quickly.
Overall, it seems as though the theme of shows this fall is going to be AI, and the ability for things to be digitally manipulated. As usual, only one series with a theme tends to survive, and I think this one might be it. The opening sequence grabbed my attention, and the cast genuinely seem to be interested in the show, and each other. The panel was lively, and their chemistry could be what ends up setting this series apart from the others. However, I’m not too sure how this show can go more than a season based on the original description, but it seems like it’ll be a good watch while it’s on.
Next premieres October 6 on FOX.