Fox’s Minority Report: It’s a Disaster

The TV show version of Minority Report has arrived… and so far it is a flaming train wreck.

By that I mean, I can’t quite decide if I love it or hate it. It is both horrifically embarrassing to sit through, yet oddly fascinating. Whether you think that is a good or a bad thing will depend on a couple of factors:

  1. Your appreciation for the source material.

If you’re a devout fan of Philip K. Dick’s original short story and were hoping for something true to the original work, just quit now. There is nothing for you here.

  1. Your appreciation of “camp.”

Your enjoyment of Minority Report will rely heavily on your attitude towards, let’s say, “amusing garbage.”

There is a popular school of thought that a work cannot be truly campy if it is trying to be campy. That disqualifies shows like Sleepy Hollow and American Horror Story, because those programs are at least partially aware of how stupid their premises are. At some level, they are both in on their own joke.

Conversely, Minority Report, at least from the pilot, seems like the genuine article. The creators were obviously trying to build a futuristic detective procedural wrapped in a fully-realized world.

But they completely fucked it up.

MinorityReportShow

Before we start properly bashing this show, let’s get caught up on the premise:

Minority Report takes place about a decade after the events of the film. Captain John Anderton, the Tom Cruise character, has already shut down PreCrime, a police unit that used three psychics, or “Precogs,” to predict and stop crimes before they were committed. At first, the PreCrime system seemed to work perfectly, except that sometimes one of the Precogs had a different vision than the other two. This created a “minority report.” The existence of these anomalies was covered up, since they implied that the future was not set in stone.

In the movie, Anderton has been wrongly implicated as a future murderer. By the end of his story, Anderton discovered the truth about minority reports and dismantled the PreCrime division. The three Precog psychics were sent to live (voluntarily) on an island away from the rest of the world. Their identities and past have been kept a secret for their own protection.

Our new story picks up in the year 2065. The TV series follows Dash (played by Stark Sands) off the island and still trying to use his powers to predict crimes and save lives. Along the way, he meets up with Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good). Dash’s Precog brother, Arthur (Nick Zano), has also been using his gifts, but only to make himself rich. There is also Dash and Arthur’s step-sister, Agatha (Laura Regan). She remains on the Precog island… plotting something.

That’s a lot of backstory, but basically it seems like every episode will feature Dash and possibly Arthur predicting crimes while Lara solves them.

First, let’s talk about the good stuff:

What Works:

It’s ambitious: I’ll give them that. This seems like an expensive TV show to even float to Fox, a network famous for signing pricey high-concept shows, but then killing them the moment they aren’t turning a profit. Even writing out all of that backstory seems fairly complicated for an elevator pitch. Godspeed, Minority Report cast and crew.

Hey, it’s Fez! From That 70s Show! And he’s been working out. This is weird.

Fez

What Absolutely Did Not Work:

Budget Problems: They are clearly spending a lot of money on this production, but it is nowhere near enough. Every establishing shot and “wacky future display” comes off as totally unconvincing. The lack of a movie-level CGI budget makes this look like a bad SyFy channel film. If you can’t afford to build a proper future city, don’t pretend you can. Hopefully later non-pilot episodes will slow down on the special effects.

Blow-Up Doll Phone: This is the future-phone that Dash uses to call his sister. When he hangs up, the blow-up-doll-in-the-box deflates in a way that looks inexplicably hilarious:

Pluuuuuugh

Interpretive Dance Detective Work: In her opening scene, Meagan Good recreates a murder through an elaborate dance routine that is absolutely hysterical.

FutureDetective

We rewound both of these scenes multiple times to keep laughing at them. They were obviously not working as intended.

Cast Chemistry: So far, the cast has severe lack of chemistry. They are all trying to bounce lines off each other, and every scene just ends with some wet fart failed innuendo moment. Amidst all that, Fez and Good are clearly setting up one of those tired will-they-won’t-they relationships:

willthey

Dash is Horrible: Stark Sands seems like a stage actor. He needs some definite coaching on acting for a camera. He does all the typical “anxious Michael Cera” stuff you’d expect from this character type, but then Sands doubles down with some of those “only a stage actor thinks people react this way” moves.

Highlights include: “You told me something I didn’t want to hear, so I dramatically stood up and turned to face the wall.”

BroadwayActing

Cinematography: Some of the dramatic moments are utterly ruined by very questionable cinematography. Take this seizure scene for example:

WhoaActing
This was highly rewindable, very funny stuff.

Overall:

All of these complaints aside, I genuinely enjoyed how bad the show was. I don’t just like any dumb television. It needs to be a specific type of production. One that genuinely tried, but fell spectacularly short of the mark.

Minority Report isn’t just bad. It is accidentally hilarious. I honestly had to keep rewinding it because belly laughs were obscuring important plot details.

  • The dialogue is cringe-inducing.
  • The camera-work is amateurish.
  • The characters are embarrassingly cookie cutter.
  • The SEXY SEX shots do not seem remotely organic. They feel a clear ploy to appeal to viewers who forgot that there is free pornography on the Internet.

BoobieBalls

In the show’s defense, it’s typically unfair to fully judge on a first episode. Pilots are almost always the weakest story in a series. There is so much backstory that needs to be covered before they can get the ball rolling.

But still, when Minority Report fails, it fails like a shameful phoenix. The dancing detective stuff was genuinely hilarious. The “Broadway acting” stuff was enormously fun to riff on. I felt Black Hammer, White Lightning levels of joy watching this thing. I love this sort of trashy television. In many ways, it’s far better than if they’d just created a decent, but boring show.

So maybe it’s not right to call Minority Report a nuclear-tipped failure just yet. I’ll keep watching. At the very least, I want to see how big this bomb can get.