We all remember the hit film starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was based on the fascinating short story by legendary writer Philip K. Dick. As hard as you can, try to keep the memory of how that film made you feel because the only feeling you might get from the TV version is boredom. A more extreme reaction would be regret.
Minority Report, like the film, all starts because of a murder. This post pre-crime world forces people to catch murderers after they’ve actually committed a murder. That novel idea is met with a very competent detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) trying to solve a murder that turns into a cog in a much bigger plot line that will probably be explored in a future episode. While she’s trying to solve the crime, out of work PreCog Dash (Stark Sands) is trying to prevent it. The weakest of the three we were introduced to in the film, his visions require a lot more detective work than he has training for. Luckily, there’s a detective handy to create a partnership with. Together, they take a potentially fun show premise and bog it down with the tedium of a cop procedural, effectively killing any science fiction joy that this universe could have provided.
To build upon a pre-existing universe is a double-edged sword. Sure, you get the fans that come from working in that universe, but to keep them you have to make sure enough nostalgic elements from the film are in the TV series. To keep them, there needs to be a compelling story that creates a new experience while embodying the spirit of it’s predecessor. That’s where Minority Report loses its way. There is a fun use of technology throughout the episode. The tech seems functional and is a believable escalation to already existing technologies, but some pretty gadgets were only part of the greater world of the film version of Minority Report. By introducing a couple of existing characters from the film, the television show tries to keep that faint connection to the film. By introducing the former PreCogs, the show’s hope was that it would be enough to satiate the appetites of fans, but all they really did was throw them a bone.
The acting is great, especially the dynamic between Good and Sands. Their relationship is oddly charming, and will hopefully stay that way unless they decide to create some sort of romantic involvement between them. This kind of pairing isn’t particularly original, especially for FOX. Sleepy Hollow for example, has a strong detective who partners with an eccentric and charmingly quirky character to solve mysteries. The good thing about the use of this formula in Minority Report is that the strong detective is a female character fighting in a male dominated world, especially against ex-lover and now boss Will Blake (Wilmer Valderrama).
Writer Max Borenstein has more experience writing his villains as giant monsters, but the true villains in this universe have always been the humans. To keep the story engaging, you have to keep the villains interesting and with some depth every episode. Maybe there is hope for the overarching villain they keep hinting at with the PreCog’s side story involving his brother, but at least for the pilot the villain was predictable and bland. Without a great story behind it, director Mark Mylod was forced to rely heavily on visual stimulation. That was nowhere near enough to cover up how dull everything is beneath the flashing lights. Instead of feeling like the television show was paying homage to the film, it felt more like predictable fan fiction.
Much like the murder victims the precognitives see, I don’t see a very good future for Minority Report.
RATING: ★★★ (3/10 stars)