Fox’s Minority Report (premiering Monday, Sept. 21) is missing the key element behind the 2002 Tom Cruise film — and yet that tweak affirmed Steven Spielberg’s decision to finally adapt the sci-fi pic as a series.
Set in Washington, D.C. circa 2065 (11 years after the events of the movie), Minority Report presents a future where Precrime investigations have been disbanded, leaving a pre-cog named Dash (played by NYC 22′s Stark Sands) to go AWOL from his remote retreat, still fielding flashes of dire demises and thus wanting to secretly assist Detective Lara Vega (Deception‘s Megan Good).
Wilmer Valderrama (That ’70s Show) plays Vega’s colleague Will Blake, while Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls) and Laura Regan (Mad Men) are Dash’s pre-cog kin, Agatha and Arthur.
“The thing that really spoke to [Spielberg] was being able to bring these pre-cogs to life,” executive producer Darryl Frank said Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “The chance to humanize the pre-cogs spoke to him more than anything.”
“It felt like just following up on the [Precrime] enforcer would be limiting,” said EP Max Borenstein. “[Whereas] the idea of focusing on the pre-cogs, the people who were traumatized by experiencing these murder visions all of their lives, is just fascinating. It allows us to dig into the ethical issues of what responsibility somebody has if they see that future. That was the reason we decided to shift focus.”
Of course, glimpsing and then acting on visions of the future present a variation of the old time-travel paradox — meaning, isn’t Dash, in success, tinkering with the future? “We’ve thought long and hard about the rules,” said Borenstein. “The pre-cogs are seeing the future as it it’s going to play out if they don’t interfere. But the moment they start interfering, things get fuzzier. It becomes a question of: Can you do enough to change that future?”
Speaking of the future: Fox’s Minority Report took some cues from the film’s own world-building and then added flourishes of its own.
“It goes from little things to big,” Borenstein says of the series’ version of 2065. “A small thing is we’re in Washington, D.C. and [the football team] is now called the Washington Red Clouds,” an homage to the great Native American leader. “We’re doing fun things like that, but we’re also doing larger things,” working in partnership with a MIT lab whose job is forecasting what the world will look like 50 years from now.
The show’s EPs affirmed that Spielberg is regularly relaying notes to them (sometimes in the form of a scan of a cocktail napkin sketch!), even between takes on the feature film he’s currently helming.
“It’s the first movie to go to television of his,” Frank quipped, “so no pressure at all!”