With big ratings for the first two episodes, it looks like Fox’s sci-fi procedural (think “CSI: Robots” and you’d got the basic idea) is a hit. But that doesn’t mean Producer J.H. Wyman is breathing a sigh of relief, as we found out when we hopped on the phone with him in advance of the third episode.
“I’m just thrilled we got a chance to put another science fiction show on the air,” Wyman said, referring to his previous cult hit ” Fringe“. “The only reason we got five years [for 'Fringe'] is number one the fans, and number two the media. If the fans hadn’t made it happen, we wouldn’t have gotten a chance to do this show. I’m just really happy that people say that scifi shows can be good, and maybe can get a larger audience with this one.”
For the five years “Fringe” was on the air, it constantly battled with ratings. But FOX stuck by the show, and it developed a critical and fan following. “Almost Human” has a few advantages over the previous show, though. Unlike ‘Fringe’ which became increasingly complicated with mythology and character dynamics, Wyman is aiming for more of a mix with the new show.
“This show is meant to be a completely different tone, and a lot of fun, and at the same time take a look at a lot of ‘what ifs’ for the future,” Wyman continued. “Very popcorny. But also funny! I’m really trying to bring a lot of humor into the program.”
Happily Wyman has the classic mis-matched buddy cops in Michael Ealy as a robot with a soul named Dorian, and Karl Urban as John Kennex, a cop who hates robots.
“You start, and you go, okay this is kind of interesting, and then you see that Michael Ealy is hilarious, more funny than you thought,” Wyman said on the developing structure of the show. “His timing is exceptional. Or when they’re sitting in the car talking to each other, before the camera goes they have this rapport as actors, and people. We have to make that more forefront, we need to shine a light on that more.”
Beyond the individual cases and jokes, though, Wyman will be slowly working a greater overarching mythology into the show.
“What we really wanted to do was establish ourselves in the first run of four or five episodes, six episodes,” Wyman said. “With ‘Fringe’ it took a long time to unfold and figure out what we wanted to do. This is more upfront.”
So how will that mythology appear? Turns out, it’s been right in front of us for the first two episodes, just most viewers haven’t noticed. “You’ll have to pay attention to some small things,” Wyman teased. “Not many people have noticed, but there are these red balls that are hanging in the air and doing things. What are those? How come nobody is reacting to them? The people in the show know what they are, but we don’t know what they are. There’s a lot of really interesting things that you can look back on later.”
Ultimately though, what Wyman is looking for in “Almost Human” isn’t just the humor and the mythology, it’s the characters and the emotions.
“If you look at episode two, I think that was a really good mix,” Wyman continued. “You have funny bits with John and Dorian, but you have a compelling story with the sexbots in the future, and then cool little elements like DNA bombs. But you also had, at the end of the episode, what I think is the most crucial element, the heart and soul of the episode where Dorian puts down that robot. At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s anyone out there that doesn’t worry, what is this life, what happens? It’s a balance.”
Before we let Wyman go we asked if there was a chance “Almost Human” could cross over with “Sleepy Hollow,” which plays later the same night on FOX. “That would be awesome!” Wyman said laughing. “You would have to do a time jump.”
You heard it hear first: start your Dorian/Abbie fanfic now.
“Almost Human” airs Mondays at 8 P.M. on FOX.