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Minority Report (TV Review)

The 1-4-0: A direct sequel to the 2002 Tom Cruise / Steven Spielberg film, a Washington DC detective teams up with a “precog” to stop crime before it happens.

The Gist: A decade after the events of Spielberg’s Minority Report, PreCrime had been disbanded, and cops have gone back to solving crimes instead of stopping them. Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) teams up with former precog Dash (Stark Sands), who tries to use his abilities to see the future to stop murders before they happen.

What Works: The pilot quickly establishes itself as continuation of the original film, going so far as to use actual footage (with Tom Cruise carefully obscured) in its opening prologue, giving us a decent understanding of the world we are entering. Does it help to have seen the film? Not really, but it doesn’t hurt either. There is a lot of world-building sprinkled throughout the pilot’s 45-minute run time, introducing a future that feels like it will exist by 2065, but, save for a few occasions, never comes off as clunky exposition.

Sands’ Dash hugs the very tight line of heroic savant, existing somewhere between Tony Shalhoub’s Monk and Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper, a role that could easily become grating but instead comes off as naïve and eerie as well as surprisingly funny, especially when he’s telling other character’s their future. There is a great smash cut gag midway through the episode and hopefully there will be more of them as the series finds its feet. The reveal that Dash’s twin brother Arthur has used his abilities to amass an immense fortune was an unexpected development that could lead to some interesting plotlines. Also take note, Washington DC, you’ll be rooting for the Redclouds in 50 years.

What Doesn’t Work: The episode’s central mystery is fairly boilerplate. A couple of former “precriminals” concoct a way to enact revenge on those they blame for their imprisonment. While this concept does give Dash the chance to come face-to-face with those he helped imprison, the episode instead chooses to focus on the revenge plot, which worryingly leaves the door open to the tired tope of a revolving door of villains who’s origins are tied to our central hero. (Conversely, CW’s The Flash brilliantly upended this trope in its first season.)

Meagan Good’s Lara Vega doesn’t feel much different than many other female detectives on TV. While she has a much sunnier disposition, and seemingly less tragic past than Rachel McAdams’ Ani Bezzerides on True Detective, there’s very little that distinguishes her from host of similar character populating television today. This is by no means the fault of the actress, but in every way the paper-thin character sketch she’s been given. Here’s hoping they’ll give Good meatier material as the series progresses. Likewise, Wilmer Valderrama’s Lieutenant Will Blake is too broadly drawn as Vega’s maybe ex, current superior who is more than happy to take the credit for Vega’s work. Valderrama does his best with the material, but the character is still too much of trope to be considered a true character.

Watch, Binge, or Skip: Binge. Despite some initial skepticism, the pilot does prove that a Minority Report series has the potential to be a new take on the crime procedural, with the chance to explore many of the deeper themes that film only skirted. Is there such thing as destiny? Can one truly change the future? Can someone truly change who they are? But like many series before it, the show runs the risk of becoming you another crime-of-the-week series, and in the era of Netflix that might not be enough. The mark of great modern TV series is often its ability to tell an enthralling serialized story featuring memorable characters. And while Dash has the potential to fulfill the latter, the series only seems to suggest the possibility of the former.

This might not be “appointment television” like Broadchurch, but it can prove to be a series that viewers will happily enjoy two-to-three episode chunks at time. Hopefully as the first season progresses the series will take full advantage of its high concept and follow in the footsteps of other great Fox sci-fi dramas such as Fringe and create a deep and unique mythology that leaves the audience thinking long after the credits roll.

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