Humans: an appraisal of the first TV episode by: GF Willmetts (TV series review).

June 14, 2015 | By | Reply More

Although I never came across the original Swedish series ‘Äkta Människor’ by Lars Lundström but ‘Humans’ is the British version. In many respects, I couldn’t help wondering from the start that perhaps it should have been called ‘Planet Of The Androids’ until half-way through I discovered they were called Synths. No real difference, ‘Planet Of The Synths’. It still has a similar ring. These synthetic beings owe more to Isaac Asimov than Philip Dick, right down to a name reference and the three laws of robotics. Whether this will go towards Dick or not depends on them gaining sentience.

humans-2015-1

There are a lot of threads starting up here. From a dysfunctional family having their first Synth and we seeing them adjust to an old man trying to keep one of the earliest models going because of the memories it contains of his wife. Like your standard computer, you’re lucky if they are functional after seven years and become obsolete and are recycled. No change there then. Seeing the various reactions, it does make me wonder how many other people will resist handing them back than just this example. Although its only hinted at, I suspect the Synths have only been around less than a decade in this reality. People relying on them is something similar to how mobile phones became commonplace so quickly. It’s only how much you earn that determines whether you own one or not. Oh, unless you need a permanent carer and the NHS will lock one onto you.

From the start it is shown that there is a special brand of Synth that has gained their own sentience and some of these have been apprehended with Leo, a sole human trying to find and protect them. This is not helped when one of them has been captured and is going to be examined.

This reality is also very idealised. No one seems to complain about Synths taking jobs, even that of prostitution. What does the human version do for a living instead? Of course, this is only the first episode and so we haven’t seen just how much this reality has changed.

Some of the hints are there. The Synths have a mix of Stepford Wives as well and equally creepy is how they move quietly around all the time. They do have limitations in that they have to have their batteries charged at night. A tap under the chin turns them off. They are very vulnerable really. That point would show they are hardly likely to want to take over the world. You might start off wanting one at the beginning of the story but I suspect by the end of this episode, you are more likely to hand it back before the end of the trail period.

Where this series is going to go is debatable. I suspect it will follow the standard SF trope but who knows who will win in the end. Caring for humans is standard trope although I doubt if it will become Skynet level danger. Whether the Synths themselves see themselves as slaves is debatable. If anything, human reliance is going to make humans lazy and redundant and that could be far more dangerous even if the result is the same. I suspect the crux of the plot is should we let Synths be more than they were programmed to be, although from what is hinted at already, these aren’t standard computers anyway.

An interesting start and seven more episodes to come.

(c) GF Willmetts 2015

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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