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The Best Show You’re Not Watching: HUMANS

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While perusing through my DVR’s On Demand catalog for a new show to try, I stumbled upon a real gem. When it comes to good entertainment, once I hear, “android” I’m on board almost immediately. I was a huge fan of the FOX show “Almost Human” and was so disappointed when it was cancelled. And of course, I’m a huge “Transformers” fan.  So, yeah, I’m all about robots in the fictional world.

So when I found out that this show centers around a time in the world when androids or “Synths” to which they are referred, are a normal part of everyday life and used as helpers for humans, I was very intrigued.

The main story centers around Laura, Joe and their family.  One day when Laura is away on a business trip, Joe, struggling to tend to the family makes the impromptu decision to purchase a Synth to take care of them.
Laura seems to be a bit uncomfortable with the idea of Synths in general so when she arrives home to a house-tending Synth, she is a bit in shock.
After a bit of convincing to try her out, as the rest of the family seems on board with the idea, Laura concedes.  They name their new Synth “Anita”.

Meanwhile we find out that Anita was taken from a group of Synths that appear to be on a different level than the others – they actually have feelings and are autonomous.  The group consider themselves family and once they get split up, they struggle to locate each other while keeping their true identities under wraps.

Even though she’s accepted it, Laura still can’t shake the feeling that Anita is more than she appears. One moment she is interacting in the precise and calculated way that one would expect an android to interact, but the next moment she’ll say something so ominously that Laura starts to believe that she’s losing her mind.

A sort of sub-story in the show is that of Dr. George Millican, a retired scientist who had a hand in creating Synths but is now having memory issues.  His faithful Synth, “Odi”, with whom he intersects like a son, helps him to remember his faded memories.  It’s for this reason that he refuses to upgrade Odi for a better functioning model.  He constantly and defiantly rejects his social worker’s insisting that he upgrade his “appliance” as the one he has is outdated and even malfunctioning.

This show, which airs on AMC Sundays at 9pm, is brilliantly cast.  Anita, played by actress Gemma Chan is absolutely stunning and she captivates every scene she is in.  She and the rest of the actors portraying Synths interpret their characters in a way that would have you questioning whether they were indeed artificial beings.

HUMANS is the type of show that with every episode has you intrigued and asking yourself the age-old question, “Could Artificial Intelligence eventually become self-aware?”

I look forward to finding out, but only in this fictional world.

Are you watching, “HUMANS”? What do you think of it? Share in the comments!

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First Impression: Strangers 6

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It’s been a while since I’ve been on the drama bandwagon.  To start, I’m very picky when it comes to what drama I get into – they don’t always suck me in right at the beginning.  If I’m not hooked from the start, it’s difficult for me to stick with it.

So, recently on my quest to try and find a drama to enjoy, I stumbled upon ‘Strangers 6’.  This drama takes place across Asia.  There is a huge threat to the continent and the top forces in China, Japan and Korea respectively have been called upon to work together for the greater good of the land.

What I love about this drama so far is the language diversity.  When I was initially looking for an engaging show to watch, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch a Japanese or Korean drama.  So when I discovered this show, it was all the more enjoyable because I got a great mixture – Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean AND English! And for the most part, the English is good.  Yes, some actors have a better grasp of it than others, but for the most part it’s pleasant.

The most notable English speaker focused in the first few episodes is Chinese actor Gregory Wong.  I so enjoyed his light-hearted yet respectable character in the beginning of this drama, that I learned a bit more about him and even sent my well wishes to him via social media – and got a “thanx!” back from the actor himself in response!!

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The main cast works well together. You’ve got the hunky Korean agent, his cool and at times sassy female partner and the Chinese agent also has his own female partner. Then there’s the Japanese agent – a troubled man currently going through a divorce and the only one who doesn’t have a female counterpart because apparently he can’t be trusted with one.  So he gets a young and meek computer programmer.  He’s a cutie and I’m hoping that at some point he is forced to face something that will turn his meekness into manliness, otherwise, his constant cowering is going to continue to be annoying.

Overall, I love the idea of this drama.  Different cultures combining for the greater good of their respective countries.  And even though they don’t necessarily get along – as individuals and in some cases on a larger political level, they still need to find a way to work together to prevent disaster.

If this sounds like a premise that you can get with, then definitely check out, ‘Strangers 6’.

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Space Dandy – Dandy, Indeed

As much as I love most things deriving from my second home, The Land of the Rising Sun, the one thing that I simply haven’t been able to get into is Anime.

Well, let me clarify that.  There was a time when I was younger before I even met my first Japanese friend that I was into Anime for a bit.  Series like “Project A-ko”, “Dominion: Tank Police” and of course, “Sailor Moon” were great ones for me.

Even after having fallen out of that short phase, I was pulled back in briefly with “Moldiver”.

But after that brief stint, I was done.  Even with occasional coaxing from friends and the curious look into a hyped-up new series, I wasn’t able to jump back in.

But a few weeks ago while watching a show on Cartoon Network, I saw a promo for a show called, “Space Dandy”, that was airing that weekend.
The show is about an alien hunter who searches for unregistered aliens and turns them in for a big pay day.
Nothing about what was said in the promo caught my attention, only the beauty of the animation itself hooked me in.  From the short promo alone I could tell that this was going to be a high-quality production.  I immediately set my DVR.

It wasn’t until the first commercial break that I realized that what I was watching was the world premiere of the series and after further research I discovered this first episode was premiering in the U.S. BEFORE it premiered in Japan.  That is unpresedented in the world of Japanese productions.  Suddenly, I felt as if I was in some VIP screening room.

What’s interesting about Space Dandy to me is that it’s not the type of show I would have watched a few years ago.  The stories are all over the place, full of fan service and there is absolutely no continuity – but I LIKE it!  In fact, one of the most recent episodes was a bit more subdued than the others and actual had a followable plot.  The story actually made sense and was easy to understand – and I was BORED!  It was a good episode, but the reason why I like the series is because it’s so different from anything I’ve seen before.  I wanted the strange, uncanny wackiness to continue (and it did in the subsequent episode – yay!).

Also, the music is GREAT – think ’70s funk meets ’80s synthesizers.  The show has a nice and relaxed feel to it and never takes itself too seriously.  Also the voice acting is fantastic.  It is one of the rare times where I prefer the English voice actors to those of the Japanese.

This series is already getting critical acclaim so I’m happy that something that I am thoroughly enjoying is being enjoyed by others – unlike other shows (I’m looking at you, FOX – please don’t cancel “Almost Human”).

So if you’re in the market for an anime that gives you a different feel from the others, definitely check out, “Space Dandy”.  It airs during Cartoon Network’s Toonami on Saturday nights.

It’s one heck of a show, Baby.

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My New Type – The McGarrett

To be clear, I love all types of men.  Latin, European, the occasional Marvel villain, and of course, I don’t have to tell you that there was a time when East Asia had a very strong hold on me (the hold is still very much in place).  Earlier this year when there was a promo during last year’s Super Bowl for CBS’s hit classic remake Hawaii Five-0, I was reminded about a time when I gave the show a try and was subsequently prompted to start watching it again (ah, the power of advertising).

Shortly thereafter, I discovered that I’ve fallen for a new type – The McGarrett as in Steve McGarrett the leading man on the show.  This confident, brooding and at times reckless character is not one that I have found attractive before.

Now to be clear, I’m talking about the character, and not the Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin who portrays him.  Alex is quite different from his character on the small screen.  He’s sweet and funny but clearly a far cry from the kick-asses-first-then-answer-to-the-governor-later-ex-Navy-SEAL that he portrays.  It’s the character that I prefer.

It’s exactly like how I feel about Eliot Spencer on the dearly departed TNT hit show Leverage.  Christian Kane seems like a nice guy but it’s the persona of his character Eliot that intrigues me more.

Clearly this is a testament to the talent of these two gentlemen.

Getting back to Alex.  I’ve seen his other work but I prefer him as the crime-fighter who cleans up the streets on the many islands of Hawaii.

Recently I learned that he played a role on an episode of another one of CBS’s hit shows, Criminal MindsI used to love this show and still catch it from time to time.  (Hello, Shemar Moore and Matthew Gray Gubler – yet another example of my varied appreciation of men).

In this episode (“The Big Wheel”) Alex plays a character that is a complete departure from his norm and he was absolutely fantastic in it.  It’s almost impossible to feel any sympathy for a serial killer but the portrayal of this character was so mesmerizing that it had you feeling for the struggles of this disturbed man.  I’ve seen many episodes in this series and this one by far was the best.

Back to the character of Steve, I’ve never been one for the outwardly macho, strong type – I usually go for subtle, quiet strength – but this character has changed that for me.  Also, I’ve never been one to like a man in military uniform – I prefer a nicely tailored suit instead – but put this man in Dress Blues and I am done.

So with that, I’ve added another type to the rolodex. It’ll be interesting to find out which one actually makes the cut.