This fall, Fox is bringing Steven Spielberg’s 2002 movie “Minority Report” to the small screen. Adapting the Tom Cruise-led film for television involved figuring out how to improve upon the innovative technology featured in the movie's futuristic setting and determining a workable narrative structure. (Hint: writers drew inspiration from a Fox sci-fi series with a huge following.)
The show is set 10 years after the events of the movie, when the Precrime program -- which employed the help of three pre-cognitives to arrest criminals before they committed their crimes -- has been terminated. Now, in the year 2065, one of those precogs, Dash (Stark Sands), returns to society. After years in seclusion, Dash teams up with a brazen detective named Lara Vega (Meagan Good) to stop murders before they happen.
This setup obviously gives the sci-fi series a procedural framework. However, the show is taking a cue from “The X-Files” and will mix in a serialized storyline for consistent viewers to follow, executive producer Max Borenstein told International Business Times.
“Our ambition with this show is to try and follow a model of shows that we love and that have struck a balance between a procedural [and serialized show],” said Borenstein. “Obviously, it’s a high bar, but it’s what shows like ‘The X-Files’ were able to really do brilliantly. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
Taking on this project also meant having to figure out how to improve on the movie’s highly praised technology, which featured an innovative, gestural user interface that’s almost a reality now and is very close to what we can do with mobile devices. Looking to the Google Glass for inspiration, they decided to give their cops augmented reality through glasses and contact lenses that would allow them to reconstruct the crime scene using DNA, heat signatures, disruptions from the fibers on the floor that show footprints.
“It takes the stuff that was on screens [in the movie] and puts it out in the three dimensional world that our detectives are inhabiting,” Borenstein explained. “Like the film, we’re holding ourselves to the standard that it has to be stuff that is plausible and, in fact in most cases, that is driven by actual current innovation.” A former member of M.I.T’s Media Lab, specializing in future trends, works full time on the show to help them with their forecasting of the future.
At the center of the show is Dash and Vega’s odd-couple partnership, which is founded on their desire to help people. Dash seeks Vega out because, unlike his sibling (whom we’ll get to shortly), he can’t stand witnessing these murder visions and not doing what he can to help people. (It’s very, “with great power, comes great responsibility.") Although teaming up with Dash means working in secret, Vega is eager to use his abilities to solve crimes because her father was murdered in a time before the Precrime program, and she nostalgically thinks that it could’ve saved him had it been around.
“Their relationship is initially defined by her fascination and obsession with the precogs,” Borenstein said, “But it really becomes a deep friendship and one where’s she’s protective of him.”
There are two reasons why the story was set after the movie. First, Borenstein and the other producers thought crafting a story that preceded the film felt disingenuous to the film’s themes, which were about the limitations and ethical implications of the Precrime program. Second, and more important, they were interested in exploring how having the gift of seeing the future would affect three people differently.
The sibling relationship -- between Dash, his twin brother Arthur (Nick Zano) and his sister Agatha (Laura Reagan), who played by Samantha Morton in the movie -- will also be one of the show’s focuses. There’s a deep bond between them, but there’ also a lot of friction because they don’t all agree on what they should do with their lives after the program.
“They’re a screwed family as much as anyone’s. And, that makes for great, emotional storytelling,” Borenstein said.
The writers are interested using the show offer commentary on the present, which is a standard feature of most science fiction. For example, and as was previously reported during TCA press tour, the Washington Redskins have been renamed the Washington Red Clouds, because people in the year 2065 “got wise to that racial slur.” Borenstein also promised gags about the legalization of certain drugs and exploring the effects of climate change.
“It’s not a political show in an agitprop way,” Borenstein said. “It gives us the opportunity to speak to things we speak about today and put them through the prism of 50 years [from now] without it feeling like it’s torn from the headlines in a ‘Law & Order’ way and speaks to a world that feels grounded, lived in and authentic.”
"Minority Report" stars Meagan Good, Stark Sands, Nick Zano, Wilmer Valderrama, Daniel London, Laura Regan, Li Jun Lia and Zhane Hall. It premieres on Monday, Sept. 21 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.