'Minority Report': TV Review

There are minorities in it — that's the good news. But given how bad the pilot is, they might not be in it for long. 

Fox's new series is set 10 years after the Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise movie.

I spent a lot of time struggling to find something positive about Fox’s Minority Report, but since the network (like others) only sent the pilot along, there wasn’t much to go on. The pilot is pretty awful — awful enough that it’s hard to imagine who would stay around to find out if future episodes get better.

But I did find one positive thing, though it comes with some caveats: Minority Report has a strong minority cast. Diversity is an ongoing issue in television so, yes, a cast fronted by people of color is still notable. And yet, star Meagan Good, who plays police detective Lara Vega in the series, seems capable of a lot more than looking awesome while running around in outfits made to show off her figure (including, hilariously, a leather jacket that buttons at the neck but — naturally — unzips at the cleavage).

Andrew Stewart-Jones at least gets to be a mayoral candidate named Peter Van Eyck and does nothing in the pilot that yet suggests the writers will make him embarrassed to be on the show. Wilmer Valderrama, on the other hand, gives a performance in the pilot he’d probably rather have back — and playing the pointlessly evil boss of Good certainly doesn’t do him any favors.

But it’s hard to say “yay for diversity” when these people may be looking for work if Minority Report doesn’t get exponentially better in the next hour.

So, what other positives can be taken from a bad pilot with no indication of where it goes next? Well, yes, the snarky might suggest that maybe the "precogs" who can see the future — so essential to the Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise film of 2002 — would come in handy in that department. But as we find out in the TV adaptation airing tonight, they haven’t been used in 10 years, ever since the idea of "precrime" — where three very intuitive siblings predict crimes before they happen in the future — was abandoned.

If you loved the movie, or even just liked it well enough, the TV version, written by Max Borenstein, will not do it for you. Disbanded precrime unit without precogs = not that interesting. The good stuff is disassembled, missing in the writing and concept, or just being saved for a "later" that is inconceivable given this pilot.

There are worse things than watching Good run around being a badass. But the pilot doesn’t really let Det. Vega's personality leap out. It wants her to do some kind of flash-dancey thing with the floating touch screens made popular by the movie, but even that makes you groan. The first time we see her do it she’s not seriously poring over pages a la Cruise in the movie. She’s kind of, well, dancing around, trying to imagine how the crime went down.

It all seems so immediately tiring and ridiculous. I wanted the movie back, but mostly I kept thinking that I’d rather watch any episode of CBS’ Person of Interest.

Part of the problem is that Minority Report doesn’t really know what it wants to be. The show is set in 2065. It's in Washington, D.C., a decade after precrime was introduced in the movie. When we first meet one of the three "retired" or forgotten precogs, Dash (Stark Sands), he seems really hell-bent on getting back in the crime-fighting business. But he can’t put the puzzle of his visions together because he lacks his siblings, Arthur (Nick Zano) and Agatha (Laura Regan), who are not developed enough in the pilot to suggest anything other than the possibility that Arthur might be a bad seed and Agatha might be manipulative. We don’t know. We’re meant only to know about Dash, but this knowledge is confused by the direction Sands appears to have received to act like a semi-normal person at the start of the pilot and then, for no reason, quickly descend into talking like C-3PO.

It’s not helpful. None of it is helpful. Valderrama as Good’s boss is just not a good fit. There’s no chemistry at all between Good and Sands. The pilot is limp and lifeless, and while you know that the trajectory of the series has to somehow involve the precog kids getting back together, by the end of the pilot you won’t really care one way or another.

More episodes might have been helpful. Or, if they're anything like the pilot, maybe not.