J.J. Abrams Talks ‘Almost Human’; Says CBS Not Interested in ‘Star Trek’ TV Show 

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 21st, 2013 at 6:49 am,

Urban Ealy Almost Human J.J. Abrams Talks Almost Human; Says CBS Not Interested in Star Trek TV Show 

After months of waiting, FOX has unveiled J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman’s futuristic sci-fi police procedural series Almost Human in an ambitious two-night roll-out, premiering the first two episodes back-to-back. The show has been worth the wait – (read our reviews of the premiere and the follow-up) – and looks to have already hit its stride.

With a strong hook – a haunted detective (Dredd and Star Trek star Karl Urban) reluctantly teams up with a unique android (Michael Ealy) to battle out-of-control crime in the year 2048 – as well as some top-notch production values, Almost Human has burst out of the gate with a level of confidence and forward motion missing from other high-profile series premieres (like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is still struggling to find its footing).

The creative team of Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams and Fringe co-creator J.H. Wyman is one of the show’s major draws, and in the wake of Almost Human‘s debut, Abrams talked to EW about his thoughts on the future of the show, his level of involvement, his other sci-fi TV show project, and why we might not see a Star Trek TV show for some time.

The future world of Almost Human is quite different from that of Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, which is to be expected. The new show is an original take on where humanity might go, while Star Trek‘s approached was inherited by – and to a large degree dependent upon – the vision of the original 60′s TV show. When asked whether he sees us heading in a utopian or dystopian direction, Abrams answered:

I like to think I’m more of an optimist. So the idea of this show is not my default vision of things. I’m not as optimistic as [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry was. I fall somewhere in the middle. But as a romantic, I like to think things are going to get bigger rather than worse.

Michael Ealy in Almost Human J.J. Abrams Talks Almost Human; Says CBS Not Interested in Star Trek TV Show 

Just two episodes in, Almost Human has already established many of the ground rules for the world, with Urban’s John Kennex and Ealy’s Dorian developing rapidly into fully-realized characters. Abrams provides a generous overview of what we can expect to see from the show, without a single spoiler (although there’s a hint or two at future storyline possibilities):

One of the opportunities about this show is it not only has characters that make you smile and laugh, and relationships that feel  as unique as they are familiar, but its uniqueness comes from something that isn’t necessarily possible right now. Like any story-out-of-time, you want characters and situations where you go, “I know what that is. I know what that feels like. I know someone like that” — even though the person might be a different species. In this show, not only are the relationships unique, but the situations the characters find themselves in are equally unique. The paradigm is familiar, but the specifics are different. If there’s a new weapon on the streets, it won’t look like a weapon you’re familiar with, but you can understand it’s a dangerous thing that shouldn’t be in the wrong hands. It might be a bullet that doesn’t shoot the way you expect. It might be a drug that does something to you that’s insane and horrific. It might be something about harvesting organs that isn’t like anything in present day. The technology is part of what’s going on, but there’s a level of relatability and understanding.

The level of Abrams’ involvement in the day-to-day operations of Almost Human is also something that fans may be wondering about. He’s currently deeply entrenched in what is sure to be one of the biggest movies of the already-huge year of 2015: Star Wars: Episode VII. Given such a monster undertaking, Abrams clarifies how present he will be:

I’m as involved as needed. The good news about having [showrunner Joel Wyman] on the show is it’s his pitch, his idea and he’s running the show. When we hear a pitch we like and develop a show — unless it’s something I’ve created and I’m either going to direct the pilot, or oversee or write — we don’t get involved with people who need to be babysat. We are there as necessary. We read scripts, give notes, watch cuts, and just help out however we can.

That said, his relationship with Wyman naturally led to his input in shaping the overall concept of the series, even if that input did not necessarily translate into one specific aspect. According to Abrams:

There are things that happen in the show, all sorts of ideas that come out of conversations and things. There’s little moments and ideas here and there. When Joel was pitching the show, I got so enthusiastic. I loved The Six Million Dollar Man as a kid. The possibility of that as a kid was like candy. All of a sudden on the phone I was just spewing possible ideas of what it could be, and he was just laughing and spewing back. It wasn’t necessarily a specific moment or character, but I hopefully the cheerleader helped Joel do the show he pitched.

almost human episode 2 kennex dorian J.J. Abrams Talks Almost Human; Says CBS Not Interested in Star Trek TV Show 

Despite Abrams’ level of success and influence – there’s a reason he was handed the means to mold the next generation of two major franchises – his ideas are still rejected by networks. While he understands, he also acknowledges that it generally works out for the best: “And we have been very lucky, frankly, despite being told no, on almost every occasion we resolved it by finding something that does fit. I would never want somebody to say yes to anything they did not truly believe in.”

Almost Human isn’t the only sci-fi TV show Abrams has on his slate – the other is a television remake of Westworld for HBO, based on the 1973 sci-fi western written and directed by the late, great Michael Crichton. Abrams touched on this subject briefly, but could not provide details:

It could not be more different from this show. Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy, who are writing it, have a take on that particular [idea] that I think is mind-blowingly cool, and I cannot wait to be able to talk about it.


NEXT PAGE: New Star Trek TV Series….



jj abrams star trek 3 director J.J. Abrams Talks Almost Human; Says CBS Not Interested in Star Trek TV Show 

Ever since Abrams pumped new life into Star Trek with his alternate-timeline films, talk of some kind of return of the franchise to it’s television roots has persisted. Star Trek: The Next Generation star Michael Dorn once floated the idea of a Captain Worf series, Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller wanted to bring Trek back as a series, and most recently Into Darkness co-writer Roberto Orci was reportedly meeting with Paramount for a Trek show, but nothing conclusive came from it. The difficulty in making this happen – which is something that many, many longtime Star Trek fans would love to see – may have contributed to Abrams jumping to a the other landmark sci-fi universe with Star Wars.

Is there ever going to be a return of Star Trek to television? Abrams gives a tersely diplomatic reply:

I have been hearing for as long as I can remember that CBS, who has the rights to the series, has just been saying they’re not interested. That’s the word I’ve been told. 

Given the noted lack of hard science fiction on that network’s various procedurals, sitcoms, and dramas – none of which venture into the out-there realms of, say, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, NBC’s Dracula reboot, the CW’s Arrow or FOX’s Sleepy Hollow – CBS may feel that the built-in fan-base of a Star Trek show is not enough to possibly displace their established audience.

For the record, CBS apparently responded to Abrams’ comment: “We love the Star Trek franchise, its fan base and the many possibilities for its future when the time is right.”

J.J. Abrams on the U.S.S. Enterprise J.J. Abrams Talks Almost Human; Says CBS Not Interested in Star Trek TV Show 

As for Abrams, he’s one of those A-listers who can theoretically have his pick of projects. When asked what the future may hold for him – and if there are any other existing franchises he’d like to explore – Abrams hinted that he’d like to get back to telling original stories:

There are a few stories I can’t wait to tell. And there are new things we’re developing in-house that are not existing properties. I feel I have inadvertently worked on a number of shows and movies that existed long before my involvement. I couldn’t feel luckier to have gotten a chance to do that. I would say I look forward most to the stories that are to come, that are not based on pre-existing [properties].

So far, Almost Human has been a rare example of the actual product meeting – and then exceeding – expectations. There is no way to tell just yet how much or how little Abrams’ influence will be felt on the show as his other duties inevitably vie for his attention. Abrams has a lot on his plate, along with that little movie set in a galaxy far, far away on the horizon, so our culture won’t be starved for his voice anytime soon.  Still, an episodic approach to Star Trek would be most welcome, even if it sounds as if Abrams won’t be involved.


Almost Human airs Mondays @8pm on Fox.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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  1. As much as I do like Abram’s Star Trek reboot on the “big screen” I feel that the premise of the ORIGINAL characters (Kirk, Spock, Bone’s ect, all ) and the beginning of their five year mission aboard the NC17 would have been much better suited to television.

    JJ Abram’s re imagined crew just now began their 5 year mission (at the end of “Into Darkness).

    Instead of being able to follow the continuing (EPISODIC) mission on television, we’ll have to wait almost 5 more years just to get the last film in this re boot that began almost 5 years ago!

  2. First two episodes have been decent enough. I am sure we all play count the references, but that either goes the familiarity way of an eye rolling sigh or a mini smirk nod. Seems to be the latter with this show.

    But what was that narration on episode 2 about? If there was a narrative point to it, it lost me every time the narrator was drowned out by actual dialogue/SFX.

    • i don’t recall hearing any narration, only the intro i believe

      • Really? Lasted throughout the entire episode for me. Distracting to the point I almost stopped. Weird.

        • might be a stupid question but was your hearing impaired option on your tv on?

          • I actually live in the UK and tend to watch these shows online (simply a complete lack of patience on my part). I don’t know what is more stupid. The fact I accepted the narration as a purposeful thing or the fact I didn’t check until now whether it was actually intended to be a purposeful thing.

            Turns out it wasn’t. Turns out I watched the version for the visually impaired online. The equivalent on walking into the ladies restroom is this…

            • I downloaded this episode and also got the visually impaired version, at first I thought it was some elaborate plot device so I kept on watching lol

  3. I just watched the first 2 episodes of almost human and i loved it. While the 2nd episode didnt add to the overaching story of the plot, it added more to michael ealys bot character. The whole theme of being remembered and how it effects a bot like dorian was incredible. I have trouble watching freak of the week shows like this but i think ill stick to this one.

  4. I love Almost Human. My favorite show of the season by far. Karl Urban is amazing. You can put that guy in the sh*ttiest movie or show and he’ll make it worthwhile. I’ll go back and watch Priest or Doom again just for him.

    • There was talk once of a TV show or a second movie for Priest. Wonder what happened to those ideas?

    • Urban is definitely one of the most underrated actors active right now. I’m curious why he isn’t one of these so-called “big name” stars like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and whoever else is well-known by everyone…

  5. I have a funny feeling that CBS is waiting, so that they can bring the prime series back. I bet it will happen after “JJ Trek” is over.

  6. Almost Human is a near-perfect example of how television series should start. You shouldn’t have to wait halfway through the first season for things to get good.

    • edit……kick, not kink! ><

  7. If you are looking for the reason there is no star trek on TV look no further then JJ Abrams it is because of him that there is no trek television show on the air. JJ Abrams wants to make sure that nothing gets in the way of his movies so he is preventing it from happening when he says that CBS is not interested don’t believe it.

  8. “…But as a romantic, I like to think things are going to get bigger rather than worse.”

    that’s not right is it?

  9. Seriously, aside from showcasing JJ, this story had barely anything to do with it’s title and a Star Trek series

  10. I have not watched Almost Human yet, due to work schedule keeping me occupied when it was on. I will watch it on the web-site, tho, as it looks like it might be entertaining.

  11. AM is much better than the other big new SF show on the air (SHIELD)

    Though, I wonder why there aren’t other DRNs running around, now that they know the MX units have a weakness, they should get the DRNs up and running to run security about the station house.

    • i think the DRN’s got replaced by MX units cause the DRNs where to life like with feelings etc….

      kinda like Data vs. Lore

    • They explained it in the pilot……they were replaced because the DRN’s experienced, “glitches” (which in human terms is experiencing emotional conflicts when making difficult decisions).

      The MX units are nothing but upholding the law and following their programming to eliminate conflicts.

    • Oh and the DRNs have the same “weakness”. Dorian explained he ran on a different frequency. If they broke out a bunch of DRNs, the criminals could either change or add the DRN frequency.

      • It’s a police station, if you can take out the security grid, then add a second one. DRN + MX is better than being unprotected.

  12. The people at CBS are beyond me. Even back in the 90s Star Trek used to be quite a niche product. Yeah, Next Gen was a success for a genre show like that, but the movies didn’t take off, not even making 100 $ each domestically. Now we’ve got two successful mainstream BLOCKBUSTERS at our hand, general interest in Star Trek is huge and CBS overlook that opportunity to come up with a new Star Trek show. It’s so shortsighted it HURTS!

    New Doctor Who has already proven that a well-made, but still somewhat campy SciFi show can be a HUGE success with both the fan-base and the general public after a reasonably long hiatus. What are they waiting for? With a whole avalange of new Star Wars (both cinematic and televised) upon us, main stream interest in Star Trek will slowly fade away again because of genre fatigue. Even Marvel and DC shows somewhat take away from the attention a new Star Trek show could get.

    In five years from now, we might be back at square one, the same spot Star Trek was in in 2005 when ENT got cancelled, but this time without a SINGLE Trek episode made. 3-4 movies in 15 years is certainly not enough to uphold interest in the property. Star Wars, Avatar and the two comic book universes will get all the attention and the 2009 reboot would have been in vain!

    THEY NEED TO ACT NOW! Give us a Star Trek show until 2016, right in time for the 50th, or even I will be going to a galaxy far far away…

    • P.S.: If CBS isn’t willing to act, it is time for Paramount to buy back the rights to the televised Star Trek universe ASAP. This has to be possible and they need to act NOW or they’ll lose the ultimate business opportunity. Annual Star Wars movies, a potential live-action SW TV show, three Avatar sequels / prequels, at least three Marvel-based movies a year, the upcoming DC-JLA universe…If they want “a piece of the action”, they need to do something until chances fade away into oblivion…

  13. I like the pilot enough to comeback and I really like the 2nd episode which got so much better so I’ll stay. Hope Almost Human will continue to be awesome so we’ll have 2 great shows(still ongoing) from Bad Robot, the other one being Person Of Interest.

  14. I like that the DRN is robot enough to know he’s not as vulnerable as a human, but human enough to do the bad-ass “I know you can’t hurt me so I’m just going to calmly walk up to you as you shoot at me” thing, lol.

  15. What – does Abrams now own Star Trek ? Who gives a Rat’s Butt if Abrams is not interested. There a hundreds of talented Producer/Directors out there who could do a fine job on it ,if allowed. Think of the possibilities as a Cable Show. It could finally be what it never has been yet. A Quality Adult Show ,with great ideas -Executed correctly.
    Why is he Spokesman for the future of Trek ? He didn’t exactly make them THAT much money.

    • Derp? CBS is not interested… Abrams =/= CBS.

  16. if u want a good laugh read ajenos twitter,brett faulds