‘Minority Report’ Pilot Recap: “Can You See?”

Remote-controlled pigeons, really? That’s the best plot that the writers could come up with for the big, expensive premiere of their ‘Minority Report’ TV spin-off? How disappointing.

As the latest in a long string of new TV series based on old movies that viewers hopefully half-remember liking once a long time ago, Fox has dredged up Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi film (which was very loosely based on a Philip K. Dick story) and, almost hilariously, has completely missed the point of its message.

Set in the year 2065, a good eleven years after the events of the film, the show is technically a sequel to the movie rather than a start-over reboot. Don’t expect Tom Cruise to pop in for a visit, though. That’s obviously out of the question. Instead, the series picks up by filling us in on what happened to the three “precog” psychics – named Agatha, Arthur and Dashiell after famous mystery writers – who were able to see visions of murders before they happened, thus allowing the police to arrest and imprison the would-be killers for crimes they didn’t actually commit. That this system was exploitative of the children (now grown here), prone to manipulation and error, and a massive Civil Rights violation was the main driving force of the movie’s narrative. The TV version doesn’t get that. At all.

Ever since the PreCrime force was disbanded, things in future Washington, D.C. returned to more-or-less normal, which means that murder is once again a pretty common crime. This perturbs sexy and kick-ass Det. Lara Vega (Meagan Good), who longs for a return of the PreCrime system. Unfortunately for her, the three precogs have been hiding out of sight all this time. However, they still have their psychic visions. Dash (Stark Sands) in particular is still troubled by the things he sees. He returns to D.C. hoping to play hero and stop the latest crime he’s foretold, but gets there too late to do anything. All he actually accomplishes is to put himself on Vega’s radar.

Through a series of plot machinations too inconsequential to bother spelling out here, the cop and the psychic of course team up. They’ll work together in secret to stop crimes before they happen. Their first case involves a former PreCrime convict who was imprisoned for not murdering his wife. In the meantime, he went loony and the wife died anyway. Now he blames all his woes on the former PreCrime chief who’s currently running for Mayor, and plans to use mind-controlled pigeons to dive-bomb a campaign rally and poop a deadly virus all over the crowd.

Yup, that’s really the plot.

Naturally, Vega and Dash avert that crisis, because they’re the heroes and this is a TV show and that’s how it’s supposed to work out. Going forward, get ready for a case-of-the-week procedural in which much the same occurs over and over again. Hopefully without the pigeons.

The pilot episode looks really expensive for a television production. The director tries very hard to ape the visual style of the film as best he can (including the nifty holographic computer interfaces and satirical spam advertisements) and mimic the style of Spielberg’s action set-pieces. I expect that subsequent episodes will see a significant reduction in budget and ambition.

Despite the amount of money thrown at it, the series is awfully ridiculous and dumb. Vega actually wears an outfit with a boob-window, because apparently all clothes in the future are designed by 1990s comic book artists. Wilmer Valderrama shows up as her smarmy police lieutenant and is given nothing to do except sexually harass her. The writing is pretty bad and the whole thing reeks of cheese.

I went into this with low hopes based on the terrible network ads, but recently the show seemed to be surrounded by positive buzz that it’s better than most viewers expected. Unfortunately, I can’t agree. It’s exactly what I thought it would be, and that’s not good.

Even if you liked it more than I did, don’t bother getting too invested. Because this is a sci-fi show on Fox, it will inevitably be canceled within half a season.

Grade: C-

6 comments

  1. Shawn Smith

    I was thinking the same exact thing as I watched the pilot. How in the world will they be able to keep up the effects for all this futuristic technology on a weekly show?
    Vega recreating the crime scene reminded me of when I was playing Batman: Arkham Origins. I guess in the future, you just need a hand-dandy detective mode to switch into. (Or have a perky techy underling that will answer all your expositional questions because they are waaaay smarter than you, yet have not been able to advance up the police dept ladder. See any other proecedural show on network TV.
    This show is just poor. It’s basically a clone/ mashup of Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human (both Fox shows) using the latter’s color palette and futuristic trappings and the former’s dynamic between the two leads. Groan, sigh. I agree that the clock’s ticking on this one.

  2. Can someone explain to me why didn’t cast the actual actors from the movie as the Precog twins? They haven’t really become super famous since 2002, so I’d say it would be a (continuity-wise) nice idea to just cast them?

    • agentalbert

      Maybe Samantha Morton didn’t want to do it? This series (if it lasts) will obviously require much more acting on the part of the two male pre-cogs than was required for the movie. Maybe those two wouldn’t be up to that kind of role.

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          Nobody in the audience will remember who played the twins in the movie, so there’s no point in going out of the way to cast them again, especially not if one of them needs to be the lead in this show. Looking them up on IMDb, it appears that they were real brothers and neither acted again.

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