'Minority Report' Review: Precog Poppycock

·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment

Alternately bad and laughably bad, Minority Report is one of the few new fall shows that can probably be fairly judged on the basis of its pilot alone: There are so many things working against it, it’s hard to imagine how the show could be better, even if Fox had sent out more than just its first episode to critics.

Set a decade after the futuristic events of the Tom Cruise-Steven Spielberg-Philip K. Dick 2002 film (a movie I enjoyed, to provide a little context for what follows), the TV Minority Report resides in a world in which the genetically-mutated psychics called precogs are fugitives — it’s illegal for them to use the powers they possess to predict crime. The drama’s focus is on three of them, in particular Dash, played by Stark Sands — a name for a TV hero if I ever heard one. (In fact, I would watch a drama set in a barren desert about a lone hero if it was titled Stark Sands.) 

Alas, the opening episode of MR is about the persecution of precogs and how Dash unites, on the semi-sly, with homicide detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) to solve crimes. And some of these crimes in future episodes, it is implied, may be committed by Dash’s twin, Arthur (Nick Zano). Dash and Lara are partnered up fairly quickly but the two characters have no chemistry — indeed, they seem to be existing in parallel but different shows: Dash in a frenetic action-adventure lark, and Lara in a gritty cop series.

Because no one in the future ever just looks at a piece of paper to get information, MR fills the screen with huge transparent maps, data sheets, and computer files that require Meagan Good to do a lot of calisthenic arm-waving and body-twisting just to turn a virtual page. She very quickly looks ridiculous — like a sorcerer trying to whip up a magical snowstorm — executing all this strenuous body-language just to arrive at the location of, say, a suspect. 

Fortunately for Good, she is out ridiculous-ed by Wilmer Valderrama, who plays his role as Vega’s boss as though he’d been closely studying tapes of Bela Legosi in old Dracula films. He glowers and over-enunciates even the most harmless lines. I had written something in my notes while watching about the dialogue in general sounding like something out of a bad cartoon, but given that a Simpsons sight-gag in the pilot is just about the only amusing moment, I don’t want anyone to think I’m bad-mouthing cartoons.

Minority Report airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.