September 23, 2015

MINORITY REPORT: A Show So Bad It’s Almost a PreCrime

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Back in 2002, Tom Cruise starred in MINORITY REPORT. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is set in a semi-dystopian future where perps are collared and convicted in advance of their criminal acts (known as PreCrimes) thanks to the predictive powers of a trio of genetic mutants (or PreCogs). It was a surprisingly decent big screen adaptation of a short story written in 1956 by Philip K. Dick. The same can’t be said for the too little, too late “continuation” that landed with a resounding thud on FOX this week. It’s so bad, I had to come up with a drinking game to dull the pain of the pilot. More on that later…

Watch MINORITY REPORT and feel the pain...Whenever a movie or TV series kicks off with a history lesson told in voice-over or by a disembodied head (see David Lynch’s disastrous take on DUNE for a classic example) there’s a good chance that what follows is going to suck. MINORITY REPORT raises that red flag to new heights in a bloated preamble that drips with pointless pomposity. Things pick up a decade or so after the PreCrime program has been scuttled and PreCogs have been exiled to a cozy cabin in the woods. Don’t feel bad if none of this makes sense; you won’t care enough about the show to bother with a deep dive into the plot.

Meagan Good plays Lara Vega, a police detective with a rack that won’t quit and a hilariously inappropriate wardrobe that keeps the girls front and center. If any of that sounds sexist, wait until you see the leering camera work every time Good is center stage. It’s a series of POV shots that look like they’re taken from the perspective of a gin-soaked perv at the corner bar. Of course, with the aptly named Stark Sands as co-lead, boobage may be the only thing that keeps you from nodding off. If someone this dirt-dull can land a series role, then there’s hope for every no-talent white boy out there looking to hitch his wagon to a star.

CLICK to buy MINORITY REPORT from Amazon Instant VideoTo be fair to Sands, Meagan Good isn’t…well…all that good either. Sure, she’s saddled with some ghastly dialogue but, her entire performance consists of a single expression: sort of like she’s always smelling really stinky cheese.  The rest of the cast includes pretty-boy Nick Zano, mannequin-like as always, and a bulked-up Wilmer Valderrama. He turns in a performance that makes his voice work in HANDY MANNY seem almost Shakespearean by comparison. FOX also tries to squeeze in a few extra diversity points by casting Li Jun Li as Akeela, Det. Vega’s partner in crime fighting. Unfortunately, the role is realized in a way that devolves the character into the latest iteration of offensive Asian female stereotype: the sassy, tech-savvy “Number Two” with a Barbie-bod and tablet firmly in hand. Li’s wardrobe only makes sense if you think micro-minis are a must-have for the effective detective on the go. It’s really not progress when women of any ethnicity are reduced to thinly-written baubles and on-screen accessories.

Production-wise, MINORITY REPORT is only a cut or two above one of those SyFy originals. It’s got a flat, gauzy look that feels flown in from whatever overseas VFX house the broadcast network bean counters are using to cut costs this season. There’s a smattering of mostly lame in-jokes (THE SIMPSONS is still on the air…yuk, yuk) peppered throughout a half-assed vision of the future. The show is set in 2065. Why have public transportation and urban architecture made huge leaps forward but fashion seems stuck somewhere between Wet Seal and Forever 21, circa 2020ish? Technology has clearly advanced well into a virtual space…except for the inexplicably random use of gadgets with touch screens. Of course, in the pilot, interaction with anything added digitally in post production often looks like a bizarre take on the Hand Jive. That does make it a skosh easier to overlook the frequent lapses into lazy land.

CLICK to buy MINORITY REPORT from Amazon Instant VideoAbout that drinking game: if you insist upon tuning in, have a bottle of booze at the ready. Take a shot anytime a character says “PreCrime” or “PreCog.” You’ll be sloppy drunk by the fifteen minute mark and too sauced to care that watching MINORITY REPORT is a complete waste of precious time you’ll never get back again.

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