Title: Humans Season One
Starring: Colin Morgan, Gemma Chan, William Hurt, Emily Berrington, Neil Maskell, Danny Webb, Sope Dirisu, Lucy Carless, Will Tudor, Katherine Parkinson
Directed By: Various
Network: AMC, Channel 4 (British TV)
Humans is an 8-part series that debuted simultaneously on British TV Channel 4 and on AMC in the U.S. The Sci-Fi/drama looked at a common theme in classic science fiction, that of robots gaining artificial intelligence and the repercussions on human society. The first season consisted of several diverse storylines that slowly intertwined over the course of the eight episodes. Scientists have created artificial humans that are referred to as Synthetics or “Synths” which handle many mundane tasks in the world such as housekeeper, police dispatcher, and home caregivers.
In one of the primary story arcs, The Hawkins’ a typical British middleclass family, buys a pretty synth named Anita (Chan) to help out around the house with the cooking, cleaning, laundry. While most of the family is happy with the purchase, oldest daughter Mattie and her mother Laura, are less enthused and Anita’s progressively odd behavior rouses their suspicions.
Leo Elster (Morgan) is the son of the late David Elster, the head scientist who created synths and who secretly infused a handful with true artificial intelligence and consciousness. Leo is trying to track down these synths, including Anita, and hide them from the government agents who are trying to get to them first. The government group is led by Edwin Hobb, a former member of Elster’s team. Hobb wants to crack their code to see how Elster achieved A.I.
George Millican (Hurt) is an American scientist and another former member of Elster’s team who left the project when he disagreed with Elster’s direction. George is trying to live a quiet life with his outdated but faithful Synth, Odi, and resisting having a newer model forced upon him as his caregiver.
Finally there is Pete Drummond (Maskell), a detective with the Special Technologies Task Force who has always been suspicious of synths. With his partner Karen Voss, Drummond is caught up in an investigation involving the first known murder of a human by a synth.
Initially there is little interaction between the characters in these various plotlines and the fun comes from having their circumstances cause them to cross pass with the others. Mattie eventually uses her hacking skills to assist Leo try to reprogram Anita whom he knew and loved as Mia but whose consciousness has been deeply hidden in her memory. Drummond and Voss are drawn into the group when they discover that the murderous Synth they are looking for is part of Leo’s group.
Humans is a fascinating and stark look at a present day dystopian world. The news of a Synth murdering a human is cause for a backlash against the machines by the public. There are underground “smash clubs” where humans can pay a fee to smash Synths with baseball bats and sledgehammers for entertainment. Humans also explores the effects that the artificial humans have on other parts of society. Mattie is gifted yet lacks focus as she knows her future is gloomy since Synths are replacing humans in the work force.
Humans showcases a number of outstanding performances. Colin Morgan, best known for his role in Merlin, is a standout as the empathetic Leo, driven to help the unique Synths live a life of peace. Gemma Chan wows as Anita/Mia, striking a balance between the mechanical and the emotional. In fact, all of the actors who played the Synths deserve credit. Their facial and body movements and inflections carried just enough robotic resonance to make them believable.
The story ends with several plots unfinished but a second season will be appearing later this year. Humans works not only as a thought-provoking Sci-Fi series but also as a tense and emotional drama. While it tends to dwell a bit too much on the Hawkins family it is still a compelling series and a must add to your viewing queue.
The Making of Humans (06:48)
Series Overview (04:20)
Being a Synth (03:48)
Character Profiles (10:20)
Cast and Crew on Humans (16:02)
Photo Gallery (01:28)
Family Matters (04:03)
Cast Interviews (02:56)
Last Day on Set (01:22)