If all we have to look forward to 71 years from now is the soul-sapping scenario put forth in the banal premiere of Showtime’s sci-fi series thriller “Total Recall 2070,” then maybe we’ve been looking at this Y2K thing all wrong. Having a nasty computer glitch end the world as we know it would be a plus, saving our descendants from lives filled with rogue androids, memory implants and virtual reality orgasms. By the time the show’s 20-episode order runs its course, a lot of folks might be primed for a dose of memory deletion themselves.
Based on the hit 1990 feature “Total Recall” that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, “Recall 2070” attempts in its 85-minute pilot (promoted as being two hours by Showtime) to lay the pipe for a similar tale of mind-tampering and Mars colonization in the 21st century.
But it’s tough to summon much enthusiasm for a project whose opening dialogue proceeds like so: Woman in spacesuit (to man with laser gun): “You just saved hundreds of lives.
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Man with laser gun (also clad in spacesuit): “It’s what I get paid to do.”
Woman (flirtatiously): “I can’t believe your modesty.”
Man (clearly turned on, removing his space helmet): “I was hard-wired for modesty.”
Woman: “Should I thank you now … or later?”
Man: “How about now?”
Quicker than you can say, “Oh no, they’re serious,” the two are flailing under space sheets like a pair of Viagra junkies. Then the woman snaps out of it.
Seems this was just a “free recall” fantasy with her husband. Cute. Except that the wooden, irony-challenged dialogue doesn’t stop there, driving home the point that the intervening 71 years have not proven sufficient to eliminate the country’s bad acting problem.
Opener follows a circuitous path of effects-driven mumbo-jumbo as rendered by creator Art Monterastelli in his dark, dreary teleplay, playing somewhat like “Alien Nation” minus the humanity. It portends a future in which the heroes resemble Baldwin brothers. At least, that’s what we surmise from the presence of Baldwin lookalike Michael Easton (late of the sci-fi shows “Two” and “VR5”).
Easton portrays David Hume, a guy without a sense of humor who works for something called the Citizens Protection Bureau. After his partner is killed by shady forces, he gets all kinds of upset, especially when he discovers that the dirty deed was done by these power-mad dudes hell-bent on mind control.
Hume and his android partner Ian Farve (the phonetic spelling of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre’s surname) peer into the evil org and find it headed by a smirking tyrant (Nick Mancuso in a fine perf). Pretty soon, all heck is breaking loose.
This insidious plot involves implanting androids with deletable “humanistic memory and “self-realization” that puts their soul “on loan.” What it all means isn’t immediately clear, except that it’s difficult to make sense of things using normal human intelligence. Are all ‘droids bad, or just the ones who are programmed to kill? Do they swear more than humans, or is it just a function of their being on premium cable? And what about those immigrants with the contrived accents? Why do they keep yapping about traveling to see giant sea turtles in the Galapagos Islands? Did we miss something?
It’s all pretty lame stuff, tainted further by Mario Azzopardi’s frenetic direction. The effects are seamless enough, but pretty much beside the point in a story that feels not just reheated but terminally lukewarm.
The primary problem with “Total Recall 2070” is that we can’t work up much in the way of enthusiasm or concern for its leaden protagonists, especially when the evildoer (Mancuso) is so much more interesting.
Tech credits are okay.