Promising British Sci-Fi Lands Stateside

In the not-so-distant future, artificial intelligence is created to help out those who created it — aka us, people.

Jun 24, 2015 at 12:32 pm
click to enlarge A non-human in 'Humans.'
A non-human in 'Humans.'

In the not-so-distant future, artificial intelligence is created to help out those who created it — aka us, people. They schedule our meetings, adjust our thermostats and secure our homes. Maybe they take the shape of people, clean our bathrooms and watch our children. Inevitably they become our friends, confidants and, perhaps, our lovers or source of jealousy. The possibilities unfurl.

It’s a tale told many times over — from The Jetsons’ maid-bot Rosie to Ava in the recent film Ex Machina — that considers the implications of “playing God,” what happens when machines take over and what truly makes something a sentient being. So what makes Humans (Series Premiere, 9 p.m. Sunday, AMC) different from its countless A.I. entertainment predecessors?

The series from U.K. network Channel 4 (in conjunction with AMC) follows the basic formula — “Synths,” intelligent, people-like robots, become the hot commodity for busy folks and families as the line between humans and machines blurs. But the Brits really know how to do sci-fi.

Channel 4’s Black Mirror, a sort of modern Twilight Zone that looks at dark consequences of the modern world and technological dependence, and Misfits, a dramedy that follows young delinquents after an electrical storm leaves them with superpowers (from the network’s digital companion E4), are excellent examples of how the genre reaches far beyond cheesy aliens and goofy talking computers. Humans bears a distinct resemblance to the vibe of Black Mirror (and if you haven’t seen the latter, pencil in a Black Mirror Netflix date ASAP — you can easily take in the entire series in one sitting), and comes from the creators of U.K. series Utopia and Broadchurch, which is all very promising.

In just a short eight episodes, Humans looks to make us reconsider our relationships with technology and what it means to be, well, human.


Skin Wars (9 p.m., GSN) – The artists partner up for a music-inspired challenge.


The Comedians (Season Finale, 10 p.m., FX) – In this two-part, one-hour finale, Billy overhears Josh and other young comics mocking him and the comedic duo looks ahead on the last day of shooting The Billy & Josh Show.

Hannibal (10 p.m., NBC) – Before moving on to next week’s menu, we must mourn the death of Hannibal — the show, not the character. NBC has cancelled the series, meaning there’s just eight episodes left for all time … that is unless it gets picked up elsewhere (Hulu? Netflix? Anyone, please?) This week’s “What? They’re alive?!” moment comes courtesy of Dr. Chilton and Alana, who both miraculously survived their respective attacks. Mason Verger (now portrayed by Joe Anderson, replacing Michael Pitt) gets in on the Hannibal revenge fun, too.


BattleBots (9 p.m., ABC) – The bots are back!

True Detective (9 p.m., HBO) – Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and Velcoro (Colin Farrell) investigate Caspar’s murder, which may be tied to his penchant for prostitutes. Semyon (Vince Vaughn) believes whoever killed Caspar has his money, and investigates on his own.

Halt and Catch Fire (10 p.m., AMC) – A run-in with Joe sends Cameron into a tailspin; Gordon struggles with devastating news.


Inside Amy Schumer (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – This week takes our leading lady on a journey through time, to an awful storytime and through a town in which she gives everyone the clap.

Scream (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., MTV) – That’s right: the quintessential ’90s scary movie gets the MTV series treatment. Twenty years after the events in the original film, the murder of a high school student brings back memories of a small town’s haunting past. This modern reboot looks to stick to the original’s satiric roots.

Another Period (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Pussy Van Anderson seduces Frederick and Garfield; Lillian learns divorce is chic and decides to make one happen.

CONTACT JAC KERN: [email protected] or @jackern