Genre: TV Pilot – Sci-fi/Thriller/Drama
Premise: In the near future, a robot is accused of murder for the first time ever. A young defense attorney must find out how to defend him, despite there being no precedent for the case.
About: Tin Man was written by Ehren Kruger, one of the biggest screenwriting names in town, as he’s written almost all of the Transformers movies. He also penned horror favorite, The Ring, and busted onto the scene with the awesome thriller, Arlington Road. While the draft I read of Tin Man is listed as a traditional pilot, I’m seeing on IMDB that Tin Man will be more of a TV movie. Not sure what that means, but this seems to be part of a new protective network trend designed to take risks without admitting failure. If the show doesn’t do well, they just say it was a one-off. If it does do well, they turn it into a series. Tin Man will air on NBC this year.
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Details: 54 pages – undated

Patrick_HeusingerUp-and-coming actor Patrick Heusinger will play the Tin Man!

Man, I had to work a long time and weed through a TON of pilots to find one that wasn’t a procedural. I saw everything from a detective who’s going blind and uses his other senses to solve crimes, to a lawyer who’s secretly an alien. Procedurals are the reason I’ve been uninterested in TV for so long. I never understood why you’d watch a show whose story didn’t evolve in subsequent episodes.

It wasn’t until serialized shows started making a big push after Lost that TV became interesting. But Hollywood loves its procedural television and doesn’t want to move away from it anytime soon. There seems to be two reasons for that. One, procedural television is a lot easier to write for on a long-term basis. Just give a lawyer a case to argue, a doctor a patient to save, or a detective a murder to solve, and you can write episode after episode after episode. The engine (goal) that drives each episode is built right into the format!

Two, it’s much easier for procedural shows to pick up new viewers. Understanding the show doesn’t require you to know what happened five episodes ago, whereas in a serialized show, like Breaking Bad, that’s not the case. We need to know that Walter killed that crazy ass drug dealer to understand why these two drug kingpins are after him this week.

This is, of course, changing. If you start hearing about a good serialized show, you can always “binge watch” it on Netflix and catch up to the series in the process. And you have to remember, we didn’t used to have huge DVD sets of an entire series, or the entire show a click away on Amazon or Itunes. So even when a show is over, it can still make a lot of money from old viewers as well as new ones. In other words, these days, TV is more receptive to the serialized format than ever.

Which is a good thing. Because the sooner we can get away from networks putting procedurals about cops in wheelchairs on television (Remember Ironside???) the better.

With that said, this still doesn’t solve that other issue: how to WRITE these serialized shows. When you write a serialized show, you have to come up with a new story engine EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. Think about how hard that is. With Grey’s Anatomy, all they had to do was say, “We just got a man in the East Wing who’s showing signs of pregnancy,” and that episode is taken care of. Coming up with original plot lines time and time again for shows like Lost and Breaking Bad is a lot more challenging than it looks.

Anyway, that’s a rather long rant that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with today’s pilot, so why don’t we switch gears and get to that.

Tim Man takes place in the near future and follows a robot named Adam Sentry (who looks 30 years old in human years). Adam is the creation of trillionaire (yes, with a “t”) Charles Vale, who owns a huge robotics company. Adam is Vale’s de facto robot Butler, and takes care of every aspect of his life, which is relevant, because Vale is sick and going to die soon.

Turns out it isn’t the cancer that gets him though. Vale is murdered in his home one evening. And who’s the only one in the house with him at the time? That’s right. Adam. So Adam is taken to the police station and read his Miranda Rights. Which sounded like a good idea at the time until the police realize that they can’t read Miranda Rights to a bunch of bolts and wires. That would imply he’s human.

And thus the United States Court System must figure out how to proceed with the first ever robot accused of murder. Do they try him? Do they turn him into scrap metal? There’s all sorts of implications here, since if you try a robot, that implies robots are equal to humans, and then you start giving them rights, and pretty soon they’re running the world and then you have Terminators and then you have the Matrix.

Adam surprisingly asks for a dying breed to defend him, a HUMAN defense lawyer. Katie Piper sees this as an opportunity to bust out of being a glorified secretary and takes the job. But she learns the hard way that the Vale corporation doesn’t want Adam anywhere near a trial. They want him terminated. So when (spoiler) they try to kill him, Adam has no other choice but to resist everything that was programmed into him, and go on the run. He knows that his one shot at not being shut down, is finding out who killed Charles Vale, and why.

All you can really ask for from a show/script/movie is that the writer execute the idea in a way that isn’t obvious. I mean, you still want them to fulfill the promise of the premise. People who bought tickets for The Terminator because they heard it was about a killer cyborg want to see scenes where a cyborg kills people. But on the whole, if an idea is executed exactly as expected, it’s boring.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be surprised. I want the writer to be ahead of me. And Tin Man unravels slightly differently than I expected, which was refreshing. I think I was expecting a straight-forward boring delivery about the increasingly frequent debate (in sci-fi screenwriting) of whether robots should be given equal status to humans.

We get a little of that, but we also get this plucky human defense lawyer, a “dying breed,” who’s using this opportunity less as a noble cause and more as a way to advance her career. When that happened and I realized I wasn’t going to be preached to, I was on board.

And I liked the implication that Adam was holding a bunch of proprietary information, since he was Charles Vale’s personal robot, and what that could mean for the company if he went to trial and was forced to divulge those secrets. And therefore them wanting to kill him before he made it to trial. All of a sudden, there were a few more layers to the story than I expected. The stakes were higher than just “should we try robots?”

And the pilot didn’t end how I expected it to either. I assumed this was the beginning of a drawn out court case that would last half the first season. But at the end (spoiler), Adam escapes and we’re essentially introduced to a future version of The Fugitive. I was surprised at how closely this mimicked that premise, but it’s a recipe that definitely works, and thank god it keeps us away from procedural territory.

I don’t know if I had any problems with the script other than, maybe, it doesn’t feel ground-breaking enough? It feels a little too familiar? Robots seem to be the new craze in TV. We have Almost Human. Extant, coming up on CBS, and I’m sure at least a couple of series on SyFy.

This idea of people mimicking robots… I don’t know how else to put it but it feels like an easy way to squeeze a high concept into a small budget. Which is fine. Budget-wise, it’s a smart move. But I feel that audiences are becoming hip to this approach, which is why shows like Almost Human reek of cheapness. Occasionally showing the metal skeleton other underneath the skin after the robot gets cut—we’re kind of tired of that, seeing as we saw it all the way back in The Terminator.

I suppose it’s all in how its shot, the vision and what the production value is, but I need more than just “robots in human skin” these days to get excited about a series.

With that said, I think Kruger is a good writer. You may not agree when you see those Transformers credits, but the impression I get there is that he’s writing with 50 heads over his shoulder. In this case, with Tin Man, I see something solid. It’s not spectacular, but it’s a good pilot.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: You don’t HAVE to write a strict “serialized” show or a strict “procedural” show. You can heavily serialize something (like Lost) or you can write a procedural with serialized elements, like The X-Files. The X-Files had plenty of standalone procedural shows, but then would have shows that solely dealt with the mythology. So don’t feel like you have to go only one way or only the other when making the procedural/serial choice.

  • charliesb

    You lost me at “dying breed of defence lawyer”(courtroom drama, YAWN) but then brought me back with he escapes at the end. For a second there it sounded like maybe the “robot” was a human pretending to be a robot, which would have been interesting but I see now that you mean an actor pretending to be a robot through cheaper special effects like glowing spines and light under the skin.

    Anything looking to be over 12-13 episodes a seasons is going to have to have some sort of procedural element to it. It doesn’t need to be as cut and dry as a new police case, or a patient with a rare disease, but there needs to be some sort of access point for people who haven’t been there since the beginning. As successful as television shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead are, the number 1 television show is still NCIS, and you certainly can’t get more procedural than that.

    Interestingly enough it’s the lack of a strong serial element that is keeping Almost Human from “rising above”, it’s allegories, allusions and world view are too simplistic. And I’m not saying that every show needs to be a strong metaphor the world we live in or the human condition, I’m just saying that most of story elements feel like something we’ve seen done before and better (ala Fringe, X-Files, Battlestar, Southland).

  • Malibo Jackk

    Arlington Road = Nicholl Fellowship

    • Randy Williams

      Those of us who suffer a bit from paranoia rank this film as a cinema classic!

      • Linkthis83

        I love me some Arlington Road.

        • Hadley’s Hope

          They’ve been showing it on cable like crazy for the past couple weeks.

      • Midnight Luck

        love Arlington. Though I always imagined it was going to be intensely Paranoid filled, but it was only mildly in my mind. It should have really grabbed me with its paranoia, but only made me slightly tense. I believe they could have pushed it so much further.

        Reminds me of another movie that could have done more: Falling Down. I thought that one was going to be about a man totally going batshit crazy losing it, but instead it only went partly crazy, and then switched up what it was about and ended up going down a different strange road. There was so much more that could have been done with it.

        • wlubake

          “Wait. I’m the bad guy?” Falling Down was one of those TBS Saturday movies I grew up on.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            I just watched Falling Down last week. I love that flick.

            Sure it starts out more intense, but I really like the way it evolved to the ending you mentioned. It definitely hits me that he ends up the loony bad guy, but during the movie he makes so much sense and pokes some holes in the logic of modern day society.

          • Midnight Luck

            It was good, I just thought they could have dug deeper, pushed it more, and come up with something that was Spectacular.

            I thought the best parts were the issues he has with things we all do, and no one talks about. More of that would have been amazing.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            I can see that. It does shift quickly towards the end when it gets into his family problems some more.

            I think part of what makes that movie for me is also Robert Duvall. His character is fun, and we root for him to crack this one last case on his last day on the job.

            Heck, give me a future story about an old detective dude like that looking for a killer robot. Maybe Duvall is too old now though.

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          Funny story (or maybe not funny at all, just an anecdote) about FALLING DOWN (which I loved). I first watched it about six months ago. The first placed I lived in when I moved to LA was in Silverlake, right off Riverside. Where did I buy most of my booze (and sometimes other various random items)? A little market about half a mile from my apartment that I would walk to called Won’s. Well, when I watched Falling Down, I recognized the Korean shop owner (and the shop) in the film where Michael Douglas goes crazy over the price of a soda (I think?). Looked it up on IMDB…. same guy I would buy my whiskey from almost every night, same shop. The guy was super nice, eventually knew me by name, and he’d even open the store up and let me in if they were closed (they closed early, like 9pm). Super super nice guy, very polite, always was just like “if we closed, just bang on door, I let you in.” He actually did.

          Was really weird seeing that in the movie months later after I had moved out of Silverlake. Turns out the guy had a pretty long acting resume too, not just Falling Down. He never once mentioned anything about acting.

          Blew my mind.

          • Midnight Luck

            That is an awesome story.

            i always wondered where they filmed it. I’ve Never known the areas of LA that well.

            I love the beginning, that scene in the convenience store is my favorite part, I am not kidding, it is funny and I love that he is going crazy over the most ridiculous, average stuff. It was like he was in my head, with the things that are making him go irate. Love it.

            I looked at moving to Silverlake or Los Feliz or Echo Park at one time. I really liked Silverlake. I have no idea where are good places to live though, as I said. Funny that it was the place that drove Douglas’ character over the top….

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Yeah, I mean it’s shot all over Los Angeles, and as far as I could tell (or remember anyway – not to mention, LA looks different 15+ years later) most of the exterior stuff wasn’t shot in or near Silverlake/Echo Park.

            But that shop is literally the exact same as it was in the film, except now there’s the bulletproof(?) plastic/glass around the cash register area. Wish I’d seen it while I lived in that house right around the corner, I would’ve talked to Paul about his work in that film and other films/TV. He seriously has an extensive resume, though all very minor parts. Crazy how he just seemed like a guy who ran a liquor store/market, but he also acted a lot on the side. Also probably one of the nicest people I have ever met.

            As for the area, Silverlake is my absolutely favorite. The area where I lived (and where the store is) is also known as Frogtown. Apparently back in the 50s, at certain times of the year, frogs would come up from the LA river and fill the streets, yards, everything. They’d be everywhere. Then came the Frogtown Motorcycle gangs (they would occasionally shut down some of the streets near my house…. I went around, you don’t argue with those guys). It’s a very safe area though, very cultured, cheap, I loved it. Same goes for Echo Park and Los Feliz, which are right next to Silverlake. The place I lived after Silverlake was Burbank and jesus christ was Burbank boring as hell compared to Silverlake. Nothing to do. At all. Unless you fancied the VIP rooms of this strip club next to the train tracks if you know what I mean. I learned the surprising way what “VIP” actually means (hint: if you paid them enough, they’d have sex with you). I never went back there after that debacle.

            But yeah, Silverlake is cool.

          • Midnight Luck

            I was there about a year, year + ago checking out places. There was this great Juice, coffee, cafe that had a ton of outdoor seating next to it. Can’t remember the name. I was doing a lot of juicing at home at the time and so when I was traveling was checking out juice places as well. Then there was a Japanese restaurant I think in a strip mall, right on the main road (both of these are on what I think was considered the main road). Anyhow, when I decide I am really moving there, i will have to check out all three places again. I looked at a place in the Valley since it was supposed to be cheaper, everyone warned me away from Burbank, so haven’t really checked it out. briefly checked out Venice, since I was used to living right next to the ocean in San Diego, but wow, not even close to the same. I felt like I was in Tweaker city. Maybe I didn’t see the right parts, but movies and TV shows make it out to be beautiful, with the canals, and stuff. But that is Hollywood.

            I know they must have filmed in multiple areas, but from what I remember, supposedly this all takes place in an afternoon with him traveling by foot when he ditches his car. Of course he ends up at the beach, so he hoofed it quite a bit, especially if it started near Silverlake. So I thought, maybe, just maybe they kept it just to a certain part of LA, like one neighborhood. Wishful thinking i guess.

            Do you live in a part of town you like now? better or worse? You don’t have to say where, I just like to find cool little hidden, yet funky areas. They tend to be cheaper, and cooler than other parts of whatever town I have lived in. And I have lived in so many.

            I would love to have met this guy like you did. Just thinking he is the owner of a broken down little mini mart, and then finding out he WAS the guy in the movie, and that he is ALSO an Actor! just awesome. Love the story.

          • garrett_h

            For a while it seemed like Falling Down was on a continuous loop on HBO while my brother and I were in JrHS/HS. One of our favorite movies to just leave on as we flipped channels. Being born and raised in L.A., we knew all the landmarks, and just like Matty recognized the places he went. Might have had something to do with why we liked it so much I guess.

            As for him hoofing it, yeah, you’re right. That’s the only thing about that movie. No way he’d be able to walk allll the way across L.A. causing that much havok in one day lol.

            Regarding Silverlake, I don’t know you personally. But chatting on here with you and reading your comments above, it sounds perfect for you. You’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg so far. It has a really neat night life. Pretty awesome whiskey bar down there. They have a “The World’s End” type of bar crawl that I’ve been dying to check out. Really artsy. Lot’s of neat shops. It’s a very cool area.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            The opening to FALLING DOWN is pretty darn great in my book. Both jumping directly into the bumper to bumper traffic with Douglas’ mounting stress, and the convenience store fight.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            That’s awesome. Definitely beats the story of when got to met David Hasselhoff.

            Watching FALLING DOWN recently, I knew I’d seen the Korean shopkeeper in other films. I can’t think of them off the top of my head though.

  • ripleyy

    “I did not murder him!” – Sonny (I, Robot).

    This seems like a pretty neat idea. I think Kruger had the same worry about making this one long courtroom drama and twisted it to be something more high concept, and it seems to work (I haven’t read it, so I can’t be definite).

    That being said, it does remind me of I, Robot a little bit. I seem to be one of the few people who like that movie as it is, so I might check this out when it airs.

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    “You may not agree when you see those Transformers credits, but the impression I get there is that he’s writing with 50 heads over his shoulder.”

    I didn’t get that. Does it mean that the writer has a lot of writers helping him or that he has a lot of people putting pressure on him in case he screws up?

    • Malibo Jackk

      Door No. 3.
      Big money at stake. Many people wanting to tell him what to write.

      Once heard a former studio head say that it used to be only 2 or 3 studio people telling the writer what to write. Today, he said, its thirty five.

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        Gotcha.

  • brenkilco

    The plot of a human lawyer defending a robot on a murder charge isn’t exactly new. In fact it was an episode of the old Outer Limits show. How old? Well, if memory serves, the lawyer was played by an extremely youthful Leonard Nimoy.

    • Poe_Serling

      Yeah, this does seem to be a remake of that Outer Limits’ episode I, Robot, which in turn was inspired by a series of short stories in the magazine Amazing Stories (’39-’42) (according to wiki).

      Tin Man vs. I. Robot (Outer Limits)
      >>same basic premise
      >>both robots are named Adam
      >>builder Charles Vale/Charles Link

      • brenkilco

        Been years since I saw this. But I may have been wrong in saying Nimoy was a lawyer. I’m thinking now he was actually a reporter. Anyway the similarities remain.

      • John Bradley

        Everything these days is either remakes, prequels or sequels. I’m surprised this was given a (x) worth the read as, conceptually, from a writer’s perspective, this is a very uninspiring tv show in my opinion.

  • fragglewriter

    I totally agree with you on serialized TV shows. I do have a premise for one, based on my upcoming Nicholl script. So reading today’s article was article.
    After reading the premise, this sounds like the movie “iRobot” with Will Smith. Didn’t care for the movie, and don’t think I can get into the TV show. Also the writer, yeah, he’s won Nicholl and hot around town as a writer, but his storylines gets smashed by the critics, so I think he’s more of a blockbuster type but not for interesting or cohesive storyline type.

  • Linkthis83

    For me, there feels like a lot of logistical issues would need to be addressed for me to get on board.

    1) Is Adam the ONLY robot that exists or are there more?
    2) The concept of ROBOTS looking human is counterintuitive to me. Seeing a robot that looks human is a MORE advanced robot, not a “first in a series” type. Especially one that can take care of EVERYTHING a dying man needs. Even if he is a trillionaire.
    3) If I was the lawyer taking this case, the first thing I’d want to know is: Who did the trillionaire leave his money to? Was it Adam? And if it was, what does the LAW say about that?

    I know some premises I just need to except (Robot looks human because nobody is really going to care if that is more advanced technology than just a robot frame), but these styles of shows/movies are hard for me to really get into. Especially like X-men. I have a hard time not saying “Why doesn’t so and so use their power to solve this scenario instead of this other, obviously less equipped for this situation mutant?”

    • cjob3

      I hope they explain why he didnt create a hot chick maid robot instead of a hunky butler

      • drifting in space

        This.

      • Randy Williams

        Maybe part of his search to find the true killer will include the journey to understand why he looks the way he does. Perhaps the owner replicated a long lost lover, a son, a brother, a mentor, whatever. Googling “Patrick Heusinger shirtless” comes up with some interesting positions.

        • drifting in space

          I don’t know why I searched it but you’re right. LOL!

          • Linkthis83

            We know why ;)

        • Citizen M

          The robot needs a motive for murder. Maybe he and the old guy were lovers and he caught the old guy in a compromising position with the vacuum cleaner.

          • John Bradley

            Maybe the robot caught the old guy hitting the toaster and went to was acting in self defense of another machine?=)

    • drifting in space

      I’d like to know why they can’t just play the video feed from his memory. He’s a robot, right? I’d imagine a robot created by a trillionaire owner’s robotics company would have a video feed of some sort.

      • Linkthis83

        That’s another thing that falls under my logistical problems. There are so many. If he’s not a human, why are they worried about a trial to begin with?

        There seriously can’t be a ‘robots are people too’ phenomenon taking place.

        If his toaster electrocuted him, you wouldn’t put the toaster on trial, would you?

        • drifting in space

          Right?

          Can’t they just turn him off?

          “The robot killed him!”

          “I know just how to solve this case!”

          *pushes button, robot powers down*

          “Well, that’s all taken care of. Let’s go work on that sexy maid robot.”

          • Linkthis83

            The only way this could work, in my opinion, is if they didn’t know he was a robot at first. And if he wouldn’t want to divulge this information to stay ‘alive’ and to find the actual killer. So…he finds a lawyer that’s willing to take the case and he reveals to her that he’s a robot and that’s why he has to do what he’s about to do = goes on the run.

            Then, the lawyer reveals to the public that he’s a robot. That puts her credibility into question. Some of the masses would believe he’s a robot while the others would say it’s not possible (unless this world already has lots of robots). So some people think he’s just human, claiming to be robot. Some believe he’s a robot pretending to be human. Blah blah blah. But it would then challenge Joe Public to see him behaving in human-like ways.

            And because he’s a robot, does he only have the same physical abilities as humans? Or is he stronger or faster? What is he capable of beyond the limits of humans.

            -oh shit!!! I was about to make a suggestion and I just ruined it by solving the MYSTERY of the whole god damned thing!!!

            POTENTIAL SPOILER!!!

            I was about to suggest this = the only way it could be truly questionable is if he was a robot operating with a human heart!!!!!

            TIN MAN

            I might be hooked on this show now!!!

          • Randy Williams

            Oh my god, you’re a wizard!

          • Linkthis83

            Or it was really obvious and I’m really dense but just amazed myself with overcoming my density.

          • fragglewriter

            How does a robot function on a human heart? Needs vital organs, veins to connect to a a heart pumping real bllod, unless he just needs to know how to love. If that’s the case, then him and the lawyer will become a couple.

          • Kosta K

            What if the old man transplanted his heart/soul into the robot and is trying to keep his technology/identity a secret, so he milks the murder charges to buy some time until some bigger agenda is revealed and/or his sexy maid robot is complete?

          • drifting in space

            Now we’re getting into religious aspects and whether or not the soul exists.

            I’m mostly hoping for the sexy maid robot.

          • cjob3

            MILLHOUSE: How many monkey butlers will there be?
            BART: One at first, but he’ll train others.

          • Kosta K

            What if the lawyer getting the case is all part of his geezer/robot master plan and he uses her as the blueprint for his sexy maid robot. It can be I, Robot meets Alley McBeal meets Fifty Shades of 101100011110001111.

          • drifting in space

            I like where this is going.

            “C’mon sucker, lick my battery.”

            Good ole’ FOTC.

          • Linkthis83

            Yes..uh…affirmative. affirmative.

          • fragglewriter

            Sounds like Prometheus, and that was a horrible movie.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            The synthetic characters in the Alien movies are interesting in that they hint at possible consciousness and individuality, but never completely reveal whether or not they really are “aware” in the same way a human being is. Well, maybe Winona Ryder in the fourth one, since she was supposedly a more advanced version of artificial person.

          • fragglewriter

            That’s like saying insects have possible consciousness and individuality.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            Well, David in Prometheus seems to actually get annoyed by things that some of the humans do. Whether it is actually annoyance or programming is possibly up for debate.

            Bishop has the Asimov three laws thing, but he also seems capable of some independent decision making. Ash in the original Alien is unsettlingly human and able to blend in as part of a human crew. It is interesting and a bit unsettling to me. There is enough there that the question creeps in, which is interesting IMO.

          • drifting in space

            You just blew my mind.

            How do they get the human hearts? Are they harvested? From where? Is the lawyer a projection of Dorothy? Is Vale Oz?

            Ahhhhhh!

          • Hadley’s Hope

            Now all we need is a chimerical human-lion hybrid, a crazy mutant street witch (who has esp powers and stuff), as well as the scarecrow. I guess old scarecrow could be some humanoid plant thing that is made of vine-like tendrils. Maybe he can shape shift or something.

            These would all be mad science experiments done by this Vale dude’s mega-corporation (Vale would be the Wizard of Oz for this setting). That means the lawyer woman is Dorothy. She could have a little robot assistant named Toto.

            Oh, and a bunch of monkey-bird things made via genetic engineering that escaped into the city, and now live in an old abandoned skyscraper with the witch.

            The Emerald City is a virtual reality MMO, based on the “Oz” stories.

          • wlubake

            “Can’t they just turn him off?”

            Clearly you haven’t watched Short Circuit, or you could never dream of such a heartless act.

            Honestly, though, with A.I. robots comes concepts of human rights. People equate emotion to humanity. There will always be some flag-burning ACLU hippie to stand up for the rights of some disenfranchised group – here, the robots. I suspect robot rights will be “a thing” in this world. This case becomes a major tipping point.

          • fragglewriter

            How could I forget about the movie Short Circuit. I saw it in the movies, yeah, I’m showing my age. In the movie, the robot was struck by lighting, and that’s how he began to have feelings.

        • John Bradley

          I agree. I have no interest in this show what-so-ever. It doesn’t ask any questions I-Robot didn’t answer 10 years ago.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        That’s a good point.

        Although, could add another layer to the mystery. Say the cops play back the video feed, and it is blank during a certain window of time, when the robot would have potentially killed the trillionaire. So did the robot sabotage its own memory module, or did someone else do it to either shift suspicion towards the robot? Perhaps the killer used the robot via remote control or something?

        • drifting in space

          Now I’m interested in watching this only to see if any of the stuff we’ve discussed today will be part of the story.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            It can work, but it is tricky. Does the background world-building support it. That is why sci-fi can be a pain in the arse sometimes, but I also find all that behind the curtain stuff to be fun to build.

            Also, I think we are past the point where robots can be done in obvious ways in films and fiction. I think it needs to be researched and mulled over as much as a historical epic or something of that nature. I find that robots can make for good cold and calculating villains or background filler. Even then, you’re going up against such iconic characters like the Terminator. Although technically, he’s a cyborg.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      The thing is, if the robot(s) of this fictional future were not seen as individual entities or independent citizens, wouldn’t they just be considered the same as a malfunctioning piece of tech?

      Like say a dude is killed mowing his lawn. He slipped and the lawnmower flipped over and chopped him up. Could be suicide or an accident. The lawnmower isn’t blamed for murdering him.

      Say a Roomba catches fire and burns the house down. Is the Roomba dubbed an arsonist by the police? It’s a robot that malfunctions.

      • Linkthis83

        Exactly. I think we need a little more info about this world. I think we’ve done a good job today of deconstructing this world with our questions :)

  • cjob3

    I, (also) Robot.

  • Nicholas J

    I’ve always found it funny that when they made the LOST show bible to send to ABC, they made sure to say it was not going to be a serialized show (even though they knew it would be), or else ABC probably would’ve never gave the go ahead. I wonder what the TV landscape would be like today if they hadn’t done that.

  • Randy Williams

    Not a fan of robot stories. I don’t understand the novelty of the robots because I don’t really understand what it takes to be human anymore. I also consider them like a car or piece of machinery that kills someone. The company that made them is liable, not the machinery itself. Sounds like though in this case, the owner IS the company. What I find appealing in this pilot idea is that the robot has the desire to find out who really killed his owner and his unique abilities to make that happen and hopefully he pursues this not because of any “human” emotion like loyalty or he “loved” his owner but something more thrilling.

  • Malibo Jackk

    In the future — scripts will be written by robots.

    • Mike.H

      I hear the “suits” are already robot-like in demeanor. Ask around…

  • Ken Kerns

    Carson, I’ve seen IMDB list a lot of TV pilots as TV movies, at least during pilot season when we’re not sure about a series. I doubt the network is creating a movie as a test run for a pilot, so much as IMDB not categorizing it correctly. That said, this is another serialized drama that I can easily see as a movie, or maybe a 13-episode limited event series, but I can’t imagine turning this version of “I, Robot” into a long-running tv show – there’s just not enough there to believe it can last 100 hours without a shift in premise (although, if Once Upon a Time gets away with shifting gears every half-season now, maybe this one can, too).

    • Hadley’s Hope

      I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking this sounds a lot like the “I, Robot” film from ten years ago.

      There was also a bit with a similar idea in “The Animatrix”. The first robot murder trial sparks this big robot/AI crackdown and revolution, which leads to war, which eventually leads to the matrix.

      Also, I’m kind of annoyed since I just recently started making notes for a similar idea. Although mine isn’t about robots so much as it is about crime in the future and how all the AI, surveillance tech, social media and stuff of that nature changes the nature of criminal activity. Specifically homicide. Still though, it would get called out for being a futuristic police procedural and would be compared against this “Tin Man” show. If “Tin Man” ends up a big hit, they’d roast me alive as a rip-off artist. I guess there is always the path of turning my concept into a novel. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

      • Ken Kerns

        Well, for your idea, I’d be more concerned with a comparison to this year’s “Almost Human” show, which I like, as it focuses a lot on a high-tech future and how police deal with solving crimes in that universe – with robots thrown in for good measure. But a police procedural set in the future, even if done before, is at least more plausible as a series premise than a single trial.

        Too many of the shows that actually get made into pilots or aired as a series start off with a good premise for a single show or a movie and forget the 100-episode idea or they go they other way with a super-serial element and assume they’ll be on for 100 episodes and waste too much time getting to the good stuff. I like serials and I like procedurals, but my favorite shows have been ones that straddle that divide. I just don’t think Tin Man can do it.

        P.S. A tangential thought – does any one really think the series title is fair, that some viewers will tune in thinking there is a Wizard of Oz connection only to find a trial involving a robot? I didn’t read all the way through the script, so may be I’m missing something, but still…

        • Hadley’s Hope

          The central premise behind mine is more like the novel “The Demolished Man” and “Minority Report” (no psychic esp stuff though). And I suppose a bit like “Demolition Man” in that there hasn’t been a murder in a long time in this seemingly utopian future. Although, my idea would be to go more in the style of a thinking man’s mystery thriller instead of the testosterone fueled action extravaganza of the Stallone movie. Oh, and I think there will still be toilet paper in the future.

          As for the Wizard of Oz thing, see one of my comments to Linkthis83 below. Although, I’m just joking with those suggestions.

  • lisap

    I’ve been thinking about this idea of serialization vs procedural…and shows like “The Wire” who use serialization, but also have each year with a specific thematic arc. It’s another approach that adds another layer of depth to “serialized” television.

    • wlubake

      Breaking Bad did this.
      On a different note, Carson mentions the X-files, but I can’t think of many other successful serial+procedural shows. I liked Alcatraz alright, but it didn’t make it. Grimm may fall in that category, but I don’t watch it. Fringe maybe? It is a worthy goal, but I think the attention paid to procedural elements really hurts the serial aspects, and vice versa.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        I really got into the BBC show “Luther” via Netflix. It has the case of the week thing but also a really interesting lead (played by Idris Elba) and some longer form plots and character bits running through it.

      • Ken Kerns

        Well, if we broaden the procedural term to mean stand-alone episodes, I think comedies like HIMYM do a good balance of serial and “procedural”.

      • charliesb

        Success is subjective I guess but other shows that have lasted that are both serials and procedural shows are:

        The Mentalist
        Supernatural
        Scandal
        Elementary
        White Collar
        Arrow
        Leverage
        Burn Notice
        Misfits

        • witwoud

          There’s also Buffy and Angel. They were essentially procedurals — one monster per week to be slain — but had strong series arcs.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    Okay, ultimate procedural/serial sci-fi show idea:

    It is the year 2085. A massive space station orbits the Earth. It is basically the future version of Ellis Island for interstellar trade. A cop who lives on this space station, has three clone brothers who look identical. One is an ER doctor on the space station, while the third one is a lawyer. They combine their brotherly wits to solve cases each week. They are also on the hunt for a ruthless criminal mastermind whom they believe is smuggling alien drugs through the space station and then distributing them to the masses down below on planet Earth.

    One of the clone brothers is single (cop). The lawyer is married to a sexy femdroid ex-soldier robot woman. The ER doctor is married to an alien woman. An eccentric Sherlock Holmes style private eye is the mentor to the cop. Tom Selleck should also be in there as owner of a popular space pub.

    [x] genius

  • jridge32

    Sounds strikingly similar to “I, Robot”. I’d love to read it.

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    Let’s have another amateur pilot week! Please! Please! Please!

    Please!

    I’ll tell you the secret to getting your order Monkey Style at In ‘n Out if you do.

    Plus, it’s a good idea! Or at least have a few Amateur Pilot Tuesdays :-) Especially since we can’t actually read most of these pilots you review.

    Pretty please…..

    • Hadley’s Hope

      Fast food TV show premise: an FBI agent recruits a jive-talking teenage delinquent to go undercover as an employee at a fast food restaurant that is suspected to have a secret menu that caters to an underground cabal of cannibals.

      • klmn

        Doesn’t sound very good. Humans should be cooked slow in the ground, like the Hawaiians cook pigs. Just ask Andrew Zimmern.

        • Hadley’s Hope

          Cooked in the ground? Sounds like a voodoo zombie type of thing. That could be some creepy culinary horror there.

    • Rzwan Cabani

      I second and third this, fourth and fifth it like a mutha. I don’t have any In n’ Out secrets, but if you ever need to bury a body I’m there for you C.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        I heard that the meat in the chili at Wendy’s is the left over hamburger bits scraped off of the grill after a big rush.

    • Ken Kerns

      Totally agree with you on the amateur pilot day or week. I’ve got a couple pilots I wouldn’t mind seeing subjected to Carson’s wrath. I suppose we all could just inundate him with pilot scripts and he’d have no choice but to humor us?

  • Ambrose*

    I’m a week late in reading this article and commenting.
    I haven’t read any of the other comments so maybe someone else mentioned it but, Carson, I think it’s standard procedure for IMDb to label pilots as a “movie”.
    I’ve seeen it time and time again on that website.