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Though its views on incarceration, drugs, and technology remained woefully underdeveloped, Minority Report ended up being one of Steven Spielberg’s most notable works as of late, as good, in its way, as Munich and Lincoln. Tom Cruise gave one of his better action-centric performances, backed potently by Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell, and Max Von Sydow, and film was paced with a startling efficiency that never felt overworked; the glimmering production owed quite a lot to Scott Frank and Jon Cohen’s sturdy, smart adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. The Fox series based on the film is similarly engaging, stylish, and surprisingly clever, and does so in a way that’s quite different from Spielberg’s take. In fact, the new series has a playful, inventive tone that recalls prime Joss Whedon, as well as Fox’s last great sci-fi series, Fringe.
Unfortunately, it’s also got the inherent safeness and thinness that came with Spielberg’s film, limiting a potentially ingenious plot wherein the usefulness of incarceration might be pondered. That’s essentially what Dash (Stark Sands), one of the younger pre-cognitive agents, now must consider, years after the Pre-Crime unit has been abolished following huge questions as to the system’s legitimacy and benefits. Those who were arrested through Pre-Crime have been released, but many of them must now be housed in a government home due to a damaging “halo” effect. Other former inmates are trying to take revenge on society in 2065, which becomes the business of Dash when he teams up with Vega (Meagan Good), an ambitious detective looking to do some good while her colleagues — most prominently Wilmer Valderrama’s Blake — are grasping at big promotions.
One of the former prisoners, who pushes a woman out of a high-rise apartment building early on in the pilot, warns Vega and Blake that they “can’t stop” what’s coming, a line which is uttered in nearly every drama-thriller pilot that debuts nowadays. It’s not a particularly good sign, but Minority Report hints at a separation between a mystery of the week structure and a larger, ominous story arc being built up incrementally in each episode. The appearances of the other two pre-cognitive agents, Agatha (Laura Regan) and Arthur (Nick Zano), are denoted by a sense of an impending plot, not unlike the bald men in Fringe, but the show doesn’t hedge its bets on such reveals, which makes all the difference.
The pilot, written by Godzilla scribe Max Borenstein, does an admirable job of laying the groundwork for an entire season while also unfurling the hunt for a terrorist looking to kill a politician’s wife. Whether or not the show will survive, however, has more to do with how the balance of storylines is kept in the coming episodes, which may hinge on imagination and wild emotional shifts like Fringe or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or grow immediately tedious like all too many Syfy joints. Time will tell, in more ways than one.
Rating: ★★★ Good — Proceed with cautious optimism
Chance of Survival:
Minority Report premieres Monday, September 21st at 9 p.m. on Fox.