Preds: Cops & Robots on TV
J.J. Abrams’ Almost Human TV series debuts tonight and tomorrow, and it’s pretty easy to sum it up: a human cop and a robot cop are partners.
Certainly, that may seem like an innovative twist to the cop genre, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the elements they put together to make this more than that one line.
However, it’s vanishingly rare that any creative endeavor doesn’t have some predecessors (“preds”), at least around the basic idea.
That’s the case here.
The first pred that comes to mind is from 1976
John Schuck (Sgt. Enright on McMillan & Wife…and he later played a Klingon Ambassador) was “Yo-Yo”, a goofy, sometimes malfunctioning indestructible android. The fact that he was mechanical was kept secret,although his partner (Richard B. Schull) was in on it eventually. This one was really played for slapsticky laughs, and was a one-season wonder.
Yo-Yo was somewhat reminiscent of Hymie the robot on Get Smart. While not technically a cop. Hymie was partnered (eventually) with Maxwell Smart, who was a spy (but who typically worked in the USA). It may not be a coincidence that there are similarties: Leonard Stern and Arne Sultan were producers on both shows.
More serious was
a 1976 TV series with Ernest Borgnine and John Amos as human cops paired with Michael Shannon as Haven, the robot cop. Borgnine and Shannon (as Haven) would be back for a 1978 TV movie, Cops & Robin.
1992 brought us
Mann & Machine, where the human cop had a disdain for robot cops (as appears to be the case in the commercials for Almost Human). One twist here was that the robot cop was female.
Back in 1964, an episode of Story Parade was an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel…and the teleplay was by Doctor Who’s Terry Nation. John Carson (Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter’s Dr. Marcus) played robotic detective R. Daneel Olivaw, and Peter Cushing plays human Elijah Baley.
While the title character in the
isn’t actually a robot (he’s a cyborg…part human), most people aren’t aware of it and treat him as an artificial being like the others on this list.
Generally, we can see some similarities throughout these robot/human cop shows. The robots are typically physically superior, but suffer from the prejudice of humans who will not treat them as equals. The robots are often shown as being less emotional, and sometimes have difficulty understanding human language (especially idiom) and social norms.
Just because there are predecessors doesn’t mean that something can’t be original and entertaining…I’m hoping for the best from Almost Human.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them