Hit or Sh**: FOX’s MINORITY REPORT
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
If you’re anything like me, you love some good sci-fi, so it’s easy to understand why I was excited for this show. MINORITY REPORT is based on Steven Spielberg’s super-fun 2002 blockbuster film. That movie was set in a future where crimes could be psychically predicted and preemptively stopped. When cop Tom Cruise is forecasted as committing murder, he has to go on the lam to clear his name. However, in FOX’s new series, the heroes are working for the law this time around.
MINORITY REPORT opens ten years after the film, where “Precrime” has been abolished. Dash, one of the prophetic precognitives from the film, has returned to Washington, D.C., unable to stay quiet after continuing to witness murders before they happen. He agrees to help frustrated homicide detective Lara Vega on the condition that his true identity be kept a secret. The pilot establishes a crime-a-week formula, with Dash acting as a crime-detector and Vega doing most of the legwork.
Here, Vega struggles with the operation of an electric razor
Two things are readily apparent when MINORITY REPORT’s pilot opens. The first is that it looks great. Not cinematically, mind you. Camerawork and lighting are terrible, no doubt. But it’s one of the better science-fiction worlds crafted on television, with plenty of fun costumes, set pieces, and visual effects. The interactive holograms featured prominently in Spielberg’s film are back in full force, and our introduction to Vega sees her using them to recreate a murder at the scene. Sure, this version of MINORITY REPORT suffers some limitations that come with the territory of being a TV show; the far-out, vertical-climbing tanning bed cars from the film have been downgraded to traditional ground transportation, and some of the CG is rather weak. That being said, MINORITY REPORT nails the feeling of the film and creates a grossly engaging futurescape.
Dash and Vega are horrified to discover that THE SIMPSONS is still airing in 2065
The other obvious aspect of MINORITY REPORT is that it thinks that you’re an idiot, and reinforces this belief for the entirety of the episode. In the first five minutes, we’re told multiple times through voiceover narration, onscreen text, and visual cues that MINORITY REPORT is, in fact, set in the future. Characters throughout make conspicuous, expository references to the events of the movie. The show does more than hold your hand; it straps you down and force feeds you a constant barrage of pointless information a la CLOCKWORK ORANGE, ignoring your screams of pain all the while.
Now, I get that MINORITY REPORT isn’t cable, and certain allowances have to be made for that domain, but the show is just terribly written. Characters talk in the witless banter you’d expect from a community screenwriting workshop, not an adaptation of one the best sci-fi films of the last decade. Sure, Dash spent his childhood locked in a bacta tank prophesizing violent crimes for the feds, so some social awkwardness would be expected. But for him to blurt out casual predictions at every inappropriate moment isn’t droll, as I’m sure the writers intended it to be, but simply stilted, existing solely to remind the audience that this is the guy who can see the future. Other characters aren’t any better, reciting uninspired lines in an equally uninspired manner that sounds more like parody than actual conversation.
Dash sees a lot of things, but an Emmy isn’t one of them
It hurts to see MINORITY REPORT stumble, since such rich source material would be hoped to write itself. Unfortunately, the script is just as bland as the lifeless delivery given by the show’s cast. No amount of beautiful backdrops or wacky costumes can qualify this adaptation as a red ball series. MINORITY REPORT only belongs in one place, and that is flushed down the nearest toilet.
MINORITY REPORT airs on FOX on Mondays