Direct Beam Comms #63
Humans Season 2, Episode 1 Grade: B
Bishop: “I prefer the term ‘Artificial Person’ myself.”
The whole idea of synthetic people, robots, androids, call them what you will, gaining, or trying to gain sentience is really nothing new. Data, on Star Trek: The Next Generation spent seven seasons of TV trying to do just that and I think there’s an argument to be made that HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey gained sentience, and that’s what drove him nuts. But just because all this has been done many, many times before doesn’t mean that story creators shouldn’t be using those same types of characters or exploring those same kinds of stories today. Even if they’re treading over the same story ground that others have already gone over before their stories will be different since they’re creating them through the lens of the present.
I don’t know if it’s the world we’re currently living in or something else but stories about robots becoming self-aware is really popular these days, with movies like Ex Machina and Ghost in the Shell and TV series like Westworld and Humans all exploring this same idea and coming at it in very different ways.
Humans is a series that originates in the UK and aires here in the US on AMC, the second season of which debuted last week. The series takes place in a very-near future world where “synths” are everywhere, do all the jobs that most people really don’t want to do and have even started turning up in homes to act as housekeepers, cooks, nannies, etc. But one scientist invented a code that made some synths self-aware, and in the first season these synths start coming together to try and escape the officials who want to wipe their memories since the fear is that self-aware synths would be the first step in knocking mankind down a few pegs on the evolutionary ladder.
The second season of Humans continues the story of the synths on the run and introduces a few new characters, namely Dr Athena Morrow (Carrie Ann Moss) who seems to have come up with the next step in computer artificial intelligence except she needs more computing power, and sees these self-aware synths as the final step in her AI quest.
Humans reminds me the most of the movie Blade Runner, in so much as it has the synths on the run from people who are out to kill them. But not so much in the tone and feel of that movie to the TV show. In many ways Humans is a bright series that takes place in gleaming offices and warm homes. I’d say that in tone and structure Humans is more akin to a 1990s series than the more modern series of today — and I don’t mean that as an insult.
Ghost in the Shell trailer #2
“They created me, but they cannot control me.”
The Reading & Watch List
- North American XF–108 Rapier
- The Forgotten History of ‘The Oregon Trail,’ As Told By Its Creators
- Wang Laboratories History: Dissecting the Disrupted
- When ‘The Simpsons’ Came Out of the Closet
- Duga radar
So far this year I’ve got articles written, or mostly written, to ones that will start publishing in early April. I’ve got one on Kong: Skull Island, Power Rangers almost complete and my annual summer movie preview in the works too. And another article after that which will either be about movies of 2007 or more probably a self-examination of my TV watching habits then we’ll be in the summer article season. I’ll tell you, it’s much better to be looking forward out a few months to things I’ll be writing when the weather’s started warming up than looking out a few months to things I’ll be writing about when it’s cold and cruddy outside.
This week in pop-culture history
- 1932: Majel Barrett of Star Trek is born
- 1969: Thomas Jane of The Mist and The Expanse is born.
- 1982: Swamp Thing premiers in theaters
- 1985: Brazil opens
- 1993: Army of Darkness opens in theaters