Humans – Season 1: A TV Review

Humans is a Channel 4 series from 2015. It passed me by on first viewing but I am now having the opportunity to catch up on this series on Netflix. This is a British series with an interesting cast. The cast s biggest draw is William Hurt who plays an elderly AI tech but some of the others such as Katherine Parkinson, Rebecca Front and Tom Goodman-Hill are primarily for their comedic roles. Seeing Katherine, who was best known to me as Jen in the IT crowd, in such a serious role took me a little while to adjust to. The series was also one of the first outings for Colin Morgan after his debut on Merlin.

The series is based on a standard Sci-fi trope of a slave class of AI humanoids developing independence and what that means for humanity. What makes this more realistic is the setting, rather than the far future these Androids are present in something that is indistinguishable from modern times where ‘Synths’ are as ubiquitous as a mobile phone.

The Synths of the plot are very much the focus of the series. Five synths have gained independence and they are being hunted by scientists and the government. The synths interactions with humans is seen primarily via two groups of humans, the Hawkins family and George Millican. They help draw out the different aspects of the problems with Synths.

The first season capably illustrates the debate that any society would have to have in such a situation. It explores the positives and negatives of the creation of synthetic life with many similarities with issues of oppression and slavery. When does a tool or instrument become a person, entitled to all the requisites therein?

The general vibe of the show is very Asimov style in tone and concept, this is to its credit. The plot rumbles along nicely, there are enough plot twists to keep the interest although the pace was a little too slow in the first few episodes.

The show was well acted and thematically strong, and the cast fit well together, in fact this one of the strong points of the series and I hope that this cast manages to remain together for the subsequent seasons. I look forward to watching the rest.

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