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Humans Complete Collection
The question of artificial intelligence gaining enough sentience to replace humans, or co-exist with them, is a bread-and-butter type premise for hard sci-fi. Across its three seasons, the British series Humans explores as many of its aspects as possible, some derivative of other work, some refreshingly original. It's not on the level of wholly immersive as well as emotionally and cerebrally revolutionary works like Ex-Machina and A.I., but it's effective in the way it finds a universal human connection to the subject.
The show takes place in an alternate present, where fully humanoid androids called Synths are part of everyday life. They act as maids, babysitters, factory workers, and even prostitutes, all depending on how they are programmed. They don't have sentience, and can't do anything that's not programmed by their masters. This all changes when the Hawkins family buys Anita (Gemma Chen) as a maid Synth, but she might have a lot more going on underneath her usual programming. She's part of a group of sentient Synths who can feel and act human, enough to integrate into human society, and their half-human, half-synth leader Leo (Colin Morgan) is trying to find Anita and unleash the code that's hiding in her system, which might hold the key to liberating all Synths across the world.
As effective as Humans is in creating a thriller full of chase scenes and intrigue involving a secret government agency hunting the sentient Synths, the most interesting parts of Humans occur when exploring the way such A.I. can alter the machinations of regular society. For example, how would the presence of Anita, an attractive humanoid with functioning sexual organs, affect a troubled marriage? How would such a perfect specimen that mimics human activity without any faults becomes a source of ambition for real humans? One of the most interesting sub-plots in the show revolves around a group of humans who act like Synths and proclaim to be Synths inside.
Humans keeps the narrative interesting by evolving exponentially with each season. The first season mostly sticks to the Hawkins family. By the time we get to the third season, the conflict becomes global, and the thematic scope intensifies, leading to insightful metaphors about civil rights, xenophobia, and racism.
Keep in mind that this set just brings together the same discs from the previous season-based releases together. They're the same exact discs, with the same transfers, and without any extra content. The 1080p transfer carries the evenly lit and digital look of contemporary TV dramas, which fits the show's subject matter.
The DTS-HD 5.1 track found in every season certainly comes to life during action scenes, showcasing impressive surround support and clear dynamic range. Otherwise, don't expect much more than clear dialogue and a nice balance between dialogue and sound effects.
The Making of Humans: A brief featurette about the production.
Series Overview: Predictions about the next series. Pointless, just put on the next series discs.
Being a Synth: A 3-minute look at the Syth's conceptual design.
Character Profiles: Typical EPK stuff breaking down each character.
Cast and Crew: Quick EPK interviews of the production team heaping praises on the show.
Family Matters: A featurette on the Hawkins family.
Cast Interviews: Extra stuff left out from the previous EPK.
Behind the Scenes: A quite immersive 30-minute look at the production.
Last Day on Set: A cute one-minute video of the cast saying goodbye to each other.
We also get a Photo Gallery.
Making of Humans 2.0: A ten-minute featurette about how the second series came to be.
A Look at the Series: A 3-minute EPK on the show's themes.
New Characters: Exactly as it sounds. The creators go over the new characters and the cast that portrays them.
Niska's Escape: A 5-minute breakdown of one of the central action set pieces.
Greeting From the Set: One minute puff piece with set footage.
B-roll: 30 minutes of raw behind the scenes footage.
Behind the Scenes: Another 10 minute making-of EPK.
Synths: Seven minutes about the new types of Synths in this season.
New Characters: Another five-minute series of interviews about the characters who join this season.
I found Humans to be a bit derivate as I watched the first couple of episodes. It was especially annoying to see so much "borrowed" from A.I., right down to casting William Hurt as the disillusioned creator of the original Synths. But the way it eventually engages in some interesting social questions and organically expands the scope of the story as seasons progress kept me engaged. It's a worthy binge watch selection for hard sci-fi enthusiasts.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com