While “Humans” Do Well, No New “Real Humans” – Ahrvid Engholm (Sweden)

humans-amc

In an interview in the daily Aftonbladet1, Lars Lundström, script writer to the SVT (Swedish Television) robot series “Real Humans” (Äkta människor), says he’s given up hope for a third season. Meanwhile, the Channel 4 and AMC English version, named “Humans“, has just begun, to good ratings and reviews.

SVT didn’t want to be involved anymore,” Lundström said. “And we couldn’t work it out with the French co-producers on the scale needed. So we had to kill it, unfortunately.”

He says he has ideas for a third season and there have been thoughts about doing a movie, but it would be difficult to find the financial backing. The English version could use his season three ideas if they want to, but:

They are not dragging the story in that direction. Several story threads are woven together and when they change a little it’s difficult to return to the track we had. Their script writers decide in which direction the story goes.”

 Humans Series Trailer 2015 – New TV Series 2015

“Humans” hit the air in June. Viewership is said to be record high for a Channel 4 drama (3.5 million), their “biggest drama hit in 20 years” according to The Guardian.2 And reviews seem favourable, on Deadline Hollywood for instance:

Very anxiety-provoking and plugged in and ultimately very good.”3

Maybe a innovative pre-show campaign helped, with “seriously creepy” advertisments for the “synths” (robots) as if they existed already.4

Lundström doesn’t say it,  but the reason why Swedish TV dropped a third season for “Real Humans” may be that they put their money into another success instead, “Jordskott” (already mentioned on Europa SF). It has also sold abroad and was recently awarded the BANFF Rookie Award for best serial drama in Canada. ***** And SVT is considering a second season of it.

If robots aren’t to your satisfaction, mythological creatures in the woods can always replace them.

©Ahrvid Engholm

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/humans

Humans” (styled as HUM∀NS) is a British science fiction television series, debuted in June 2015 on Channel 4 and AMC. Written by the British team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, based on the award-winning Swedish science fiction drama “Real Humans”, the series explores the emotional impact of the blurring of the lines between humans and machines. The series is produced jointly by AMC, Channel 4 and Kudos. The series will consist of eight episodes.

The first episode of the series was made available in the UK on Channel 4 on 14 June 2015 and will premiere in the United States and Canada on AMC on 28 June 2015.

Set in suburban London, the story takes place in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a Synth (a synthetic) – a highly developed, artificially intelligent servant eerily similar to its living counterpart.

The series was announced in April 2014 as part of a partnership between Channel 4 and Xbox Entertainment Studios. However, after Microsoft closed Xbox Entertainment Studios, AMC came aboard as partners to Channel 4. Filming commenced in the autumn of 2014, with the series premiering on 14 June 2015.

For one week in May 2015, the series was marketed using a fake shopfront for Persona Synthetics on London’s Regent Street, inviting passers-by to create their own Synth using interactive screens, and employing actors who pretended to be cyborgs around central London. An accompanying Channel 4 trailer for the series in the style of an advert for Persona featured “Sally,” a robotic servant described as “your new best friend.”

The show is Channel 4’s highest rated drama since the 1992 programme “The Camomile Lawn”. It has been described as having “universal appeal” and as being “one of 2015’s dramatic hits.”,  “a bit dystopian and Black Mirror-esque.”

The actors (Colin Morgan, Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkins, Tom Goodman-Hill, William Hurt, Will Tudor, Rebecca Front, Neil Maskell, Danny Webb) have been praised for their performances, but some have said the story is “conceptually … old hat” and “wasn’t breaking any new ground philosophically.

“Humans” is produced by Kudos in association with Matador Films (“Real Humans”).  Sam Donovan (“Utopia”) is the director; executive producers are Jane Featherstone (“Broadchurch,” “Utopia,” “The Hour”) and Derek Wax (“The Hour,” “Occupation,” “Lip Service”) for Kudos, with Chris Fry (“The Smoke”) producing for Kudos and Henrik Widman and Lars Lundström for Matador Films. The series was commissioned for Channel 4 by Piers Wenger, Beth Willis and Simon Maxwell, and Kristin Jones and Joel Stillerman for AMC.

1http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/tv/article21032212.ab

2http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jun/22/humans-becomes-channel-4s-biggest-drama-hit-in-20-years

3http://deadline.com/2015/06/humans-review-gemma-chan-william-hurt-amc-1201458653/

4http://tv.bt.com/tv/tv-news/buy-your-own-robot-housekeeper-what-channel-4s-scary-adverts-are-really-selling-11363980648470

5http://playbackonline.ca/2015/06/08/banff-15-rockie-winners-announced/

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2015/jun/22/humans-bankable-british-tv-show-that-isnt-costume-drama

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/jun/10/humans-robot-drama-series

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/06/26/us-television-humans-idUKKBN0P628720150626

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/06/amcs-humans-review-ai-robots-science-fiction/396935/

Pics©Channel4&AMC

Ahrvid Engholm

Ahrvid Engholm is a swedish author, editor, journalist and SF fan.

9 Comments

  1. English series is extremely poor compared to the 1st and 2nd Swedish series which are absolutely riveting and brilliant. I can’t understand the mentality of putting money into a second rate show like Jordskott when the 3rd series of Real Humans would obviously be popular worldwide. Groundbreaking and remarkable.

  2. So sad. Unfortunately money seems to be more imoortant than creativity. I was looking formard to seeing season 3.

  3. It’s January in a DC snowstorm whereas I can’t find anything cool, stimulating, and creepy to watch on tv or Netflix. So I thought of checking up on the status of Real Humans to read this article. The news really sucks. I think like the TV exec said, we are overloaded with tv now but we are not overloaded with good, creepy tv. I really got addicted to the Swedish version and didn’t like the British version. It was absent of real suspense and quirk. I didn’t like it at all and I really am a fan of so many of the actors in other things. The Swedish version was excellent. The actors were incredible to watch. It was so funny. How is it that subtitled text is so funny comprehension is so funny and not as much work as trying to watch a boring subtitled show? That is how I knew the show was that great. It was effortless reading the subtitles in which usually annoys me. I hope Netflix would do it instead of Kudos.

  4. A but late, but I just got around to watching, and finishing both series of, Real Humans very recently. I loved it. It, along with Utopia, Les Revenants, In the Flesh, and Black Mirror has been my favourite of the last few years.

    There seems to be a curse of number two *cue potty humour puns* when it comes to my favourite serials — most prematurely finish at the second series. They have the hopeful cliff hanger that it will be renewed.

    I haven’t seen Humans yet, and might not, as I generally dislike remakes (and re-imaginings) of films and television series. I was set to start with Humans, which I discovered because that show has Neil Maskell of Channel 4’s Utopia, but then found out that it was based on Real Humans.

    I’m a native English speaker and have never had a problem with subtitles — most of the films I watch are non-English language so-called art house films. Here in Canada, the Space channel has shown all the series I mentioned, and I have been pleased that they will show subtitled shows such as Les Revenants and Real Humans. I think English speaking audiences generally are becoming less reluctant to reading sub-titles and so there will be more of a market for such fare.

    It’s such a shame that it looks like Real Humans will not be continuing and I wish that production companies were more willing to make sacrifices in ensuring that episodes get made to satisfactorily conclude a series (I am confident that the money could be made back, so it’s not necessarily a question of putting art before industry and commercialism). If only crowdsourcing were possible with this, but it’s a rights nightmare as well as the huge expense of producing such a series.

  5. A but late, but I just got around to watching, and finishing both series/seasons of, Real Humans very recently. I loved it. It, along with Utopia, Les Revenants, In the Flesh, and Black Mirror has been a favourite of mine over the last few years.

    There seems to be a curse of number two *cue potty humour puns* when it comes to my favourite serials — most prematurely finish at the second series.

    I haven’t seen Humans yet, and might not, as I generally dislike remakes (and re-imaginings) of films and television series. I was set to start with Humans, which I discovered because that show has Neil Maskell of Channel 4’s Utopia, but then found out that it was based on another show.

    I’m a native English speaker and have never had a problem with subtitles — most of the films I watch are non-English language so-called art house films. I love how one ceases to notice subtitles and it’s almost like you are hearing another language and understanding it as if you were fluent in the language, but then in well-written books I often cease to be aware that I’m reading words. Here in Canada, the Space channel has shown all the series I mentioned, and I have been pleased that they will show subtitled shows such as Les Revenants and Real Humans. I think English speaking audiences generally are becoming less reluctant to reading sub-titles and so there will be more of a market for such fare.

    It’s such a shame that it looks like Real Humans will not be continuing and I wish that production companies were more willing to make sacrifices in ensuring that episodes get made to satisfactorily conclude a series (I am confident that the money could be made back, so it’s not necessarily a question of putting art before industry and commercialism). If only crowdsourcing were possible with this, but it’s a rights nightmare as well as the huge expense of producing such a series.

  6. Akta Manniskor is the best science fiction I’ve seen since Star Trek TOS.
    The script is brilliant and the actors amazing. How much could it cost
    to produce the show that there will be no season 3? The English rip-off
    series (Humans) is nowhere near as excellent. Sick of this happening to
    every series I get hooked on.

  7. I watched Real Humans when it was showing here in Australia and loved every episode. It’s so disappointing to hear there won’t be a third season. The show is so well done the way it explores all the aspects of integrating robots into human society and the effect it has on society. Having subtitles is fine and far better than dubbed English which would have spoiled the tone of the series. I’m not a fan of remakes so i’ll be avoiding the English version.

  8. I have to wonder why Lundström doesn’t do a crowd fundraiser to create Season 3. Everyone I come across who’s seen the original prefers it and I think it’s only setback was that it was difficult to find with English subtitles because people are lazy (I did, thankfully, and have been using it and other shows to teach myself Swedish), so most of the English audience are oblivious to it.
    I admit I watch Humans, but I also constantly criticize how watered down it is as compared to the original – lacking much of the sexual issues, religious issues, identity issues, and more.
    Perhaps I’ll try to track down how to contact Lundström and suggest this myself. Every time a new episode of Humans airs, I lament the lack of a season 3 of Äkta Människor.

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