September 21, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Minority Report”


MINORITY REPORT:  Monday 9PM on FOX – If Nothing Else Is On…

It’s not unusual for a sci-fi/fantasy or action-adventure pilot to boast a far more generous budget than the amount allotted to ordinary series episodes, sometimes double or more.  So the high-tech production design and snazzy special effects of FOX’s MINORITY REPORT pilot, easily its most notable features, may vanish for the most part in the future.

Of course, if one could see the future, one could know whether the TV version of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 cautionary thriller (itself inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story) will be worth watching.  In both film and series, that sort of thing is the task of “pre-cogs,” gifted individuals whose glimpses of events still to come can be interpreted by police to prevent future crimes–although, as the movie made clear, with imperfect results.  We don’t have that ability, so all we can say for sure is that based on its pilot, the TV adaptation is peculiarly unambitious on all but a visual level.

The script by series creator Max Borenstein (he wrote the last Godzilla movie) is essentially a sequel to the film,  Set in 2065, it follows the dissolution of the pre-cog program, after which the practical Agatha (Laura Regan) and her foster twin brothers, coldly practical Arthur (Nick Zano) and idealistic Dash (Steve Sands) are sent to an island far from civilization.  When the pilot picks up, they’re all back in Washington DC, although apparently below the radar of the authorities.  The main character is Dash, who is determined to use his powers to stop the murders he sees in quickly-cut flashes.  (Arthur profits from the names and other factual information he gleans from his pre-cog abilities, and Agatha is so far laying low.)

Dash is almost immediately teamed up with Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good), and despite her Robert Rodriguez movie character name, it’s here that Minority Report betrays how utterly conventional it appears to be planning to be.  Lara and Dash are, despite the futuristic trappings, just another team of a street-wise, cynical cop with a brilliant partner whose special abilities are balanced by a lack of social skills.  (There’s already a hint of romance in their future.)  In the right hands, that pairing can still work–witness Abbie and Crane on Sleepy Hollow–but it takes wit and chemistry, neither evident here.  Dash’s alliance with the police alerts Agatha that something bad for may be on the way for him and the rest of them, but the main focus will be on procedural crimesolving, and the pilot’s effort in that respect–claptrap about a mass murder to be committed via a virus to be carried by near-extinct pigeons–doesn’t bode well.

Director Mark Mylod makes good use of his generous pilot budget, dotting the scenes with updated versions of the personalized advertising that Steven Spielberg included in his production design, and including mini-drones tied to special contact lenses and birding gloves linked to the brain, among other marvels.  He’s less skilled with the actors, though, and the characters remain clumsy and familiar, including the cynical CSI tech (Li Jun Li) and the gruff boss (Wilmer Valderrama).

Minority Report is unlikely to sustain the visual scale of its pilot, and that makes it unlikely to find a majority of the Monday night audience.  It faces off with The Voice and the moderately successful Scorpion, and it’s considerably less interesting than its lead-in Gotham (which was having its own ratings issues by last spring).  Its future is hazy, but unpromising.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."