Spinning a popular feature film into a television series is an idea older than M*A*S*H, and in the fall of 2015 several such shows will hit the air: Limitless and Rush Hour on CBS, Uncle Buck on ABC and Minority Report, which premieres on Fox on Monday, September 21. Based on director Steven Spielberg's 2002 sci-fi thriller starring Tom Cruise, the show takes place ten years after the events of the movie.
Stark Sands plays Dash, one of the precogs from the now-defunct Precrime division, who joins forces with Lara Vega (Meagan Good), a detective who attempts to help him once again prevent murders before they happen. Without the resources of Precrime and the added abilities of the other precogs, this is easier said than done.
Just how Dash can prevent these murders without the collective powers of his twin brother Arthur (who will appear in the show and be played by Nick Zano) and their fellow precog Agatha is just one of the questions that the Minority Report pilot will have to address. The moral complexities of trying to prevent a crime before it happens and the human fallibility involved were the main reasons the program was shut down by the end of the film.
Series writer Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and producer Kevin Falls spoke with /Film about some of these questions, and revealed that fans might see one or two actors from the movie return to their roles. Borenstein touched on how, despite the end of Precrime in the movie, a need for precogs would still exist and said that "people have a short memory in society."
With that in mind, the rules for a revamped, street-level approach to Precrime would now be much different. According to Borenstein:
"The rule we play with is that every situation is going to be different, depending on the level of premeditation. Like in the film, you either get more time to deal with it or less. Depending on the amount that you’ve intervened in the course of events directly that leads to it, you may have less time to see that future because something you did is what’s causing it. Our rule is that our precogs can’t see their own futures. Each of them can’t see their own future and the reasoning behind that is because they are, at every moment, interacting with that future.
"However, we don’t take a kind of strict butterfly effect perspective where we say that I’m on my path here. I’m not impacting someone in the Ukraine. Those are too small a butterfly effect. However, if I shove that guy out of the way, maybe a small impact, but not a huge impact. We’re not leaning into the extreme butterfly effect of time travel. However, if I say to that person, “You’re going to kill someone, don’t do it.” Well, that’s a big effort. Now I may effect the future. They may, however, double down, or they may back away. That’s really where the show gets to be fun. And our debate over what do we do, if we do tell him, what’s going to happen?"
The cause-and-effect aspect of Precrime was played out in one of the original film's most memorable sequences, which followed John Anderton (Cruise) as he abducts Agatha (Samantha Morton) from the Precrime facility in order to prove his innocence. As they evade Anderton's squad (led by Neal McDonough as Fletcher) in a shopping mall, Agatha predicts what will happen second-by-second, leading them into the clear. This concept is well-suited for a weekly, procedural approach.
When asked if Agatha remembers the events from the film, Borenstein said yes, but also: "All that backstory, we don’t want it to overwhelm our series off the bat." We can presume that the movie's narrative will inform the series, but not overshadow it. However, fans can expect to see at least one familiar face from Spielberg's film: Daniel London as former precog caretaker Wally.
"Kevin [Falls] just wrote a really cool scene recently between Wally, who is a character from the film, who was a caretaker and who Dash has a fondness for. He has a fondness for the precogs but at the same time, he was the person who kept them in that bath. He wasn’t the reason they were there, but he was their caretaker in a slave system. When he meets Arthur, there’s some real friction because Arthur sees him as a jailer. We’re going to lean into all that kind of rich stuff."
Falls spoke further on the idea of seeing more actors from the movie, saying, "I imagine that almost anybody who was in the movie would be welcome to do the show if it’s done right." He also noted that McDonough in particular is shooting another show in Vancouver, but that they have heard through "other parties" that he'd be interested, under the right circumstances.
Given the level of detail Borenstein and Falls have clearly put into re-imagining Minority Report as a weekly series, there is still a question of whether or not the sci-fi angle can distinguish the show from any other crime-of-the-week series. The premise fits a serialized format, and Borenstein spoke about taking the "tonal quality" of Philip K. Dick's original short story and applying a "separate psychology" to what is essentially a futuristic crime drama.
Given the short lifespan of Fox's previous sci-fi crime drama Almost Human, Minority Report will need to find an audience very quickly. Providing the familiar pattern of a weekly procedural and grafting more complex moral and psychological issues onto it just might work in this setting, but will viewers get hooked on it?
Minority Report premieres September 21st, 2015 at 9/8c on Fox.