Condition: Human

Go ahead and watch the teaser below. It’s for the sci-fi web series called Condition: Human, and it conveys two important things about the series.

The first is that the show is beautifully shot, making impressive use of greenscreen cinematography. The second is that absolutely nothing of substance actually happens.

Condition: Human, produced by Nuance Films and spearheaded by writer/director/creator Trenton Lepp, is the story of Sean, a wealthy young ad exec with a swanky futuristic bachelor pad where he periodically beds the married woman who lives down the hall. Despite this affair, Sean is lonely. Fortunately for him, he lives in a future filled with ultra advanced androids, confusingly known as “humanoids,” though not to be confused with sexbots. These Companion Humanoids are anatomically incorrect, merely meant for keeping a fellow company. So Sean orders one up, and then the intrigue begins.

Or not. What arrives may just be the worst companion-bot ever. Having obviously scored very low on the Turing test, it behaves more like a therapist than a friend, asking Sean dry questions about his likes and dislikes, unable to offer any thoughts or opinions of it’s own.

Condition: HumanWe’re told to accept that these Humaniods are capable of sensory perception, independent thought and emotions, but nothing on screen indicates they’re any more emotionally advanced than a Nintendog.

The series does have one strong hook; the visuals. As demonstrated in the site’s Production Diaries, much of the series was shot in a living room with two green screens. The aesthetics of Condition: Human may not reinvent the sci-fi wheel (take the pristine cleanliness of Gattaca and throw in the Blade Runner noodle shop, and you’re pretty much there), but the fact that it was achieved with no budget is a major encouragement to any filmmaker who wants to create a believably foreign world with nothing but imagination, After Effects, and a few pieces of felt.

The strongest impression that Condition:Human left on me is that series will give the production team some really great shots for their demo reel.  But as nice as visuals are, I can’t help but feel miffed about being made to sit through a story without any tangible originality or energy.

The very first episode opens with an exposition bomb delivered via a talk show unironically called “Famous People.” From the first few moments of the show the viewer is given a vivid idea of how much effort has been put into any aspect of this series other than the visuals. If I tune in for future installments, I may just do so with the sound off.

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