3 Reasons Fox’s ‘Almost Human’ Is Almost Canceled

Is Fox’s Almost Human on the verge of being canceled? Let’s take a look at 3 big problems that could doom the show.

Feb 21, 2014 at 1:27PM

Sci-fans had high hopes for Fox's (NASDAQ:FOX) Almost Human when it premiered last November.

The show was created by J.H. Wyman, the co-producer of Fringe, and produced by Wyman, acclaimed director J.J. Abrams, and frequent Abrams collaborator Bryan Burk. The show's main protagonist, Detective John Kennex, is played by Karl Urban, best known as the new Dr. McCoy in Abrams' new Star Trek films.

The premise of the show -- a world where real cops are partnered with androids -- also seemed like a fresh new take on the well-worn genre of cop dramas.

Unfortunately, the show hit a series low with its tenth episode, "Perception", which fell to 5.37 million viewers with a rating of 1.5 among 18 to 49 year olds. Total viewers continued declining with the following episode, "Disrupt," which drew in 5.35 million viewers, although its rating among 18 to 49 year olds inched up to 1.7.

While some of that decline can be attributed to the ongoing Winter Olympics, which airs in the same Monday night slot as Almost Human, the show is also failing to gain traction among sci-fi fans. Fox still hasn't ordered new episodes for the show, which has led to rumors that it could soon be canceled. Personally, I think if Almost Human gets renewed, it will still have plenty of trouble making it past the second season.

Let's take a look at the three main reasons that Almost Human is almost canceled.

1. Airing the episodes out of order
Fox has an odd habit of intentionally rearranging episodes of sci-fi shows, presumably so they flow more smoothly on a week-to-week basis. It did this with the cult hit Firefly as well as Fringe.

Fox's logic, apparently, was to spread out the procedural "monster of the week" shows so that the main storyline was revealed at a slower pace.

Almost Human Tv Preview

Dorian the Android, who has a "synthetic soul." (Source: Fox)

The second to eighth episodes are all completely out of order, as is the tenth episode. The changes are all over the place -- the second aired episode was originally intended to be the fifth one, while the original second episode aired as the eighth.

Unfortunately, this crazy shuffling of the deck undermines the showrunners' original intentions. In Almost Human, it causes the main story arcs of Kennex's traitorous ex-girlfriend and Dorian's memories to seem painfully inconsistent.

2. Almost ambitious...
Another area where Almost Human falls short is its lack of ambition. When we look back at the greatest sci-fi shows -- The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, The X-Files, and even Fringe -- they offer audiences ambitious storylines that are packed with scientific and philosophical ideas.

Most episodes of Almost Human, on the other hand, are assembled in a simple, formulaic manner -- evolve a few of the latest headline-making technologies from our time (3D printers, cloud computing, genetic engineering, smart homes), use them to commit a crime, and play the rest of the episode out like a standard CSI/NCIS procedural with the sci-fi world serving as a backdrop.

Almosthumans

Future cop dramas are every bit as procedural as present-day cop dramas. (Source: Fox)

This simply isn't how great sci-fi is done. Great sci-fi shows start with an intriguing idea and challenges the viewer to think about broader philosophical and ethical issues that are applicable to our present-day world. For example, the parallel worlds in Fringe caused viewers to ponder if different versions of themselves would have lived out their lives in a similar manner.

Almost Human lacks any of those deep questions -- sci-fi is simply employed to kill people and solve their murders. It's bland and fails to scratch the surface of the more intriguing questions of the evolution of AI technology that should have been the centerpiece of the show.

3. Resistance against reality shows and aging comedies is futile...
Besides shuffled episodes and a flat procedural format, the show's biggest problem is that it regular goes head-to-head against two popular shows in the 8 p.m. timeslot on Mondays -- Disney (NYSE:DIS)/ABC's The Bachelor and CBS' (NYSE:CBS) How I Met Your Mother.

On Feb. 17, 7.7 million viewers watched The Bachelor, which had a 2.2 rating among 18-49 year olds, and 5.04 million viewers watched How I Met Your Mother, which scored a 1.4. The Winter Olympics on Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBC easily topped all three with 23.6 million viewers and a whopping rating of 5.6.

How I Met Your Mother has been slipping lately, but its ratings will likely pick up after the Winter Olympics and as it approaches its series finale on March 31. Almost Human's last episode of the season airs on March 3.

All of these prime time shows will gain ground after the Winter Olympics conclude this weekend, but whether or not Almost Human can finish the season on a high note remains to be seen.

What does Almost Human mean for Fox?
Ever since the final season of The X-Files concluded in 2002, Fox has been searching for a new flagship sci-fi franchise to carry the torch. Unfortunately, none of its subsequent shows stayed on the air for as long as The X-Files, which ran for nine seasons and into two feature films.

Here are some of the more prominent sci-fi shows that aired on Fox after 2000, three of which were created by prominent directors James Cameron and Joss Whedon.

Show

Creator(s)

Seasons

Viewers in final season

Dark Angel (2000)

James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee

2

6.00 million

Firefly (2002)

Joss Whedon

1

4.48 million

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)

Josh Friedman, based on characters created by James Cameron

2

5.37 million

Fringe (2008)

J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci

5

4.27 million

Dollhouse (2009)

Joss Whedon

2

2.17 million

Terra Nova (2011)

Kelly Marcel, Craig Silverstein

1

10.08 million

Alcatraz (2012)

Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

1

9.56 million

Source: Wikipedia.

With the exception of Fringe, none of Fox's new sci-fi shows lasted very long. It's as if Fox quickly grew impatient with its inability to match the first season of The X-Files, which regularly drew in 12 million to 14 million viewers. If that's the case, then Almost Human might not have much hope of reaching a second season.

Almost Human also won't help boost Fox's broadcast television segment very much, which mainly attributed its 5% rise in revenue last quarter to robust viewership of its NFL and MLB games.

My final take
In conclusion, Almost Human was almost worth watching.

Unfortunately, it was wrecked by pointless episode shuffling, by-the-numbers procedural writing, and strong competing programs on rival networks. Combine those three problems with Fox's impatience with the sci-fi shows that it greenlights, and I think we can safely say that Dorian might be decommissioned again very soon.

The next step for you
Want to profit on business analysis like this? The key for your future is to turn business insights into portfolio gold through smart and steady investing ... starting right now. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. The Motley Fool is offering a new special report, an essential guide to investing, which includes access to top stocks to buy now. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Leo Sun owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers