Once again, I’m late watching and reviewing something because of my housemates. That’s my excuse anyway. We started watching this together but then their enthusiasm waned and other things took priority in our limited joint tv watching time. Eventually I gave up waiting for them, because I actually liked this a great deal more than they did.
It’s always nice to see an interesting series appear out of nowhere, when you least expect it. It sounds patronising, particularly given some of their recent series such as Utopia, but I didn’t expect a Channel 4 series about robots to be so well put together.
I think my housemates lack of enthusiasm was that they felt the story was a bit simplistic, that it lacked a view of the bigger picture of what was going on in the world. But I actually liked that we only saw things through a handful of limited perspectives. I liked that we were never really told how far in the future we were or if it was an alternate present; the design of technology and clothes was generic enough that it could be anytime, it wasn’t trying to distract us with shiny outfits and lots of whizzy tech, the only difference between our world and their world was the robots.
That is a bit of a simplistic approach, changes like that don’t happen in a vacuum, but from a story telling point of view I like it because it gives focus to the central issue and makes it easier to relate to. I loved all the relationships that were established amongst and between the Hawkins and Synth families. It was complicated and real, everyone having frustrations with the people they loved and moments of connection with strangers. Not all of the characters get quite as much depth as they might which is a shame, Anita is a bit of a Mary Sue and various characters’ technical abilities are pretty magical, but I was willing to forgive that for the sake of moving the plot along at a satisfying rate and focussing on the characters.
Humans may lack the epic feel that much science fiction uses, and also loses the sense of wonder when everything is just focussed so tightly. But that’s ok by me. It’s not the kind of series that will change the world, or have a particularly profound impact on its audience, but for me at least, it did have an emotional impact that has stuck with me and I hope will carry through season 2.