The future looks pretty bleak for Fox’s new freshman series “Minority Report.” Set 11 years after the events of the Steven Spielberg sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise, where a special division of the police force called the Pre-Crime Unit powered by genetically altered humans known as Precogs who can see into the future and predict murders before they occur is disbanded due to the controversy surrounding the efficacy of their predictions.
The three Precogs are released from the program’s custody to live out their lives in peace at the end of the film; the show picks up with a relentlessly expository narrated recap of the movie to introduce us to Dash (Stark Sands), one of the Precogs who wants to use his visions to do good and stop bad guys, naturally.
Luckily for him, there’s Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good), a competent officer who longs for the good old days of Precogs basically doing her work for her. Vega laments about the disbanding of the Pre-Crime Unit, and Dash just wants to finally get to a victim in time to save them – they’re a match made in procedural heaven, but without the will-they-or-won’t-they chemistry…yet.
Instead, Vega gets saddled with a hotshot boss and ex-lover, Will Blake (Wilmer Valderrama), who seems positioned solely to butt heads with his scorned ex and set out on a path calibrated to rekindling whatever sort of romantic entanglement they had probably by season’s end, right in time for Vega to start falling for Dash, or vice versa. It’s how a procedural works, people!
Unfortunately, without even that cliché love triangle or a captivating murder mystery in the pilot, “Minority Report” can’t even live up yet to the relatively middling standards one expects from a procedural. The whodunit powering the first ever case that our plucky new partners obviously solve isn’t very interesting, and the M.O. of the killers, who use diseased pigeons which they control through a touchscreen computer interface, is such ridiculous B-rate movie trash that it’s hard not to give the show props for having the balls to actually go forward with it.
This is one of the main problems with the show – it’s an amalgamation of absurd, though in some cases admittedly cool, plot points and beats with no cohesive driving narrative or character development behind them. A show like “Minority Report” has the potential to be a daring, thought-provoking tale of human destiny, free will and choice, but those hefty themes are glossed over in favor of cool effects and futuristic world-building.
That’s about the only thing “Minority Report” has to offer at this point – the show is visually striking and winks to our tech and gadget obsessed culture and behavior. At one point, a school field trip unnecessarily detailing more exposition about Precogs shows a group of students launch a drone from a wearable that starts taking selfies of them.
In another scene where we’re first introduced to Vega, the show employs its first of many scenes involving characters using wearables or surrounding tech like contact lenses and dock stations to swipe and navigate their surroundings to extract information or clues. There’s an entire scene of Vega analyzing a crime scene with this tech, a choreographed routine of swipes that is set to the instrumental of Beyoncé’s “Partition.” The whole thing screams of trying way too hard, but at least we know that in the year 2065, “Partition” still holds up.
Elements like this could prove to be great meta commentary on today’s society if “Minority Report” cared to flesh them out more. It’s not for a lack of trying though. The show does attempt to not bog itself down in self-seriousness, but it swings and misses when it comes to humor and sarcasm, which in most cases is forced at best and cringe-worthy at worst.
Sands as lead Precog Dash is bumbling and awkward – a trait the character owns up to throughout the pilot, but feels more like the show pushed in to cater to the actor’s performance. Good admirably does the best she can with the material she’s given, but the show doesn’t yet seem as concerned with developing her into a three-dimensional character as it does with focusing on a stale mystery surrounding Dash’s Precog siblings.
Fans of the movie or effects driven entertainment might find something to care about and latch onto in “Minority Report,” but the pilot does very little to argue that a serialized sequel to its source material should exist.