Series Premiere Review: Minority Report
For those who are unfamiliar with the source material of Fox‘s new sci-fi crime procedural, Minority Report is based on the 1956 Philip K. Dick short story and the subsequent 2002 film. The premise of the story is that a specialized police department known as “PreCrime” has been formed by the government. Three psychics – called “precogs” – are able to see into the future and predict crimes before they occur, which allows them to be caught before they commit the actual crime. I have never read the novel, however I love Steven Spielberg‘s film adaption, and I was really hoping this TV series would capture the essence of the movie. Unfortunately, Fox has turned the story into a fairly generic procedural drama that has lost all of the film’s striking noir tone in favor of a more conventional network television feel. There are still things to like here, though.
The premiere episode showcased a lot of the flashy sci-fi effects that the creators have put together. While quite impressive, I would have liked to have seen a return to the beguiling use of shadows and dark colors that Spielberg utilized in his film. Nonetheless, I should commend the visuals present in the show. Better than most network shows can manage.
The show picks up 11 years after the film, and at this point, the PreCrime program has been dismantled and the precogs are no longer in use. Stark Sands stars as one of these precogs, Dash, who still uses his abilities to stop crimes before they happen, but to little effect. The precogs work most effectively as a unit; when isolated, they only retain fractions of their abilities. Sands was actually a good leading man, I thought. There was a believable vulnerability to him that I found rather magnetic. One could interpret his performance as overacting, but I think it lands just shy of overacting.
His partner is played by Meagan Good. While certainly attractive enough to be a star, Good just doesn’t quite have that leading woman quality to her that is necessary to be convincing in a lead role. Hopefully she’s still working out the kinks in her performance because I just couldn’t get invested in her character the way she was portrayed, her character being a Detective who comes across Dash and decides to try and take advantage of his abilities. They team up to stop an imminent attack on a political candidate. From there, we get into more conventional territory.
The premiere episode followed a predictable procedural format that didn’t pack many surprises, which I found a little disappointing. The premise is so chock-full of potential that there are so many different paths the writers could take. Let’s hope they simply decided to take the safe route for the pilot, and they have more interesting developments up their sleeves. Otherwise, it could turn into a less interesting sci-fi version of CBS’ Person of Interest, another network show centered around the premise of stopping crimes before they happen. That show succeeds, however, due to its willingness to frequently shake things up and remain unpredictable even within a procedural structure.
If Minority Report can do the same, then it might evolve into one of Fox’s better programs. I don’t think it was necessary for a small screen update of this universe, but I’m not opposed to it if they are able to do it right. If they can establish a more consistent tone that feels less like a generic procedural and more like Spielberg’s gritty noir film, then this could turn into something special. Until then, it’s just another show working out the kinks and still trying to find itself.