Posted by Maximilian Conte at Friday, November 08, 2013 13 Comments
After working on several film scripts, Abrams’ first foray into TV came when he created “Felicity” for The WB in 1998 and soon after that he was crafting the wildly expansive ‘spy-fi’ world of “Alias”. Starring Victor Garber and Jennifer Garner as a father / daughter duo of CIA officers, “Alias” broke J.J into the mainstream and along with its follow-up “Lost” (both of which aired on ABC) the series turned Abrams into one of the first ‘celebrity’ TV writers known to fans by name and celebrated - or criticized - at a level equal to the shows stars (see also: Joss Whedon, Matthew Weiner, Shonda Rhimes, Vince Gilligan). His production company Bad Robot has been responsible for more recent network hits like “Person of Interest” and “Revolution”, and his professional relationship began with Wyman when they collaborated on the parallel-universe drama “Fringe” for FOX. Unless you live under a rock, you probably also know that Abrams is responsible for rebooting the “Star Trek” film franchise and will soon be directing “Star Wars” as it returns to the big screen. So how the hell does this guy find the time to keep churning out TV fantasies? A great team, J.J insists, is key. “The lucky situation, I think, for Bad Robot has been working with really wonderful people who are great show-runners and storytellers,” he told us today, noting that when Wyman approached with the concept for their new series he knew that he had to make the time. “When he pitched me the idea for “Almost Human” I felt like that little kid that I used to be watching “The Six Million Dollar Man”, you know?”
So what sets this latest series apart from the increasingly present action and sci-fi shows on networks today, let alone from the duo’s previous work in the genre? First of all, Wyman began, he wasn’t interested in presenting another dystopian vision of Earth’s future. “I hope that we’re not really in that territory and that we’re successful in that.” Often in the genre, the writer says, the outlook seems to be “‘Look what you humans have done!’ whereas what we’re talking about, I think, is a little more hopeful. There’s a sense of going forward. We’re resilient, we’re going to succeed.”
Rounding out the loaded cast of “Almost Human” are Lili Taylor, whose character Captain Maldonado was first imagined as a man, Mackenzie Crook as Rudy Lom, Michael Irby as Richard Paul and Minka Kelly of “Friday Night Lights” as Valerie Stahl. Wyman often raved about the performances delivered and seemed to be genuinely excited for audiences to see their collaborative work. “You start with something and based on your casting it always transcends it and makes it better. The casting process was so interesting, when we were finding these guys each one had something that was so perfect for the characters” Wyman said.
Abrams matches that enthusiasm and is equally as excited to re-team with his “Fringe” cohort, telling us, “The fun is working with someone who loves the ‘what if?’ and is able to imagine situations and characters that, you know, make you laugh as much as it makes you squirm.” When the series debuts this month Abrams says he hopes audiences will welcome “conflicts and cases that don’t feel like things you’ve seen a million times before.”
“Almost Human” premieres with a special 2-night event on FOX beginning Sunday November 17th and continuing in its regular timeslot on Monday the 18th at 8 EST. The full transcript from the press call with J.J Abrams & J.H Wyman will be available here soon. Feel free to check out my Twitter for all my SpoilerTV activity & more.
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