Tuesday, October 21, 2014


When Microsoft abandoned its plans for streaming TV, one of the potential shows that was orphaned was 'Humans' which was based on a Swedish series called 'Akta Manniskor'.

From Wikipedia:
The story takes place in Sweden present time in a parallel universe, where the use of consumer-level androids is commonplace. The androids, known as hubots, are used as servants, workers, and company. While some people embrace this new technology, others are frightened by what can happen when humans are replaced as workers, company, parents, and even lovers. A moderate political movement against the spread of hubots calls itself "real humans", with some members using the derogatory term "Pacmans" to refer to hubots.

Specific models are designed for various roles, each with different features. Hubots are usually programmed to recognise and obey their owner and can learn skills and pick up knowledge through observation of humans. Hubots have become common in many workplaces, especially for repetitive tasks, and have replaced human workers there.

Though they are designed to look like humans in every way, hubots are usually easy to recognise as they have bright flawless skin, glossy hair and unnaturally bright (usually very blue or very green) eyes. All Hubots also have a USB-like port in the back of their neck which is used for programming and data. The button to activate or de-power a hubot is located under the left armpit, as is a standard wall plug cord for recharging purposes. Hubots require only electricity to survive and must recharge regularly, during which they enter a sleep-like state. Their skin feels similar to human skin and is kept at body temperature but beneath the skin, they have metal components and contain a blue fluid/lubricant known as HubFluid.

Hubots are designed to be docile and obedient and are programmed with a set of rules called "Asimov" protocols that prevent them harming humans. However, some hubots have been modified beyond the legal protocols to make them better lovers or as bodyguards. Such practises are illegal in Sweden and those who modify the programming of the hubots are known as "home-brewers". A small, low-funded branch of the police is set up to investigate hubot related crimes, known as E-HURB. Hubot-human sexual activity is taboo but not uncommon and many hubots are programmed for limited sexual activity. Those who pursue sexual relationships with hubots are derisively called "Hubbies".

Further to this, some hubots (those reprogrammed by hubot creator David Eischer) seem to have started to develop feelings, desires and their own goals as their programming has allowed them to develop free will and independence from humans. However, they are still often naïve and unworldly and sometimes fail to understand the nuances of complex human behaviour.

Thankfully, both shows had identified themselves as being set in the "parallel present", or as 'Dark Shadows' would put it - in the "Para-Terra".  I would have had to make such a decision for it as well, because there is currently no place in Toobworld for the accepted and integrated presence of these life-like androids in society.  (This is the reason why I had to banish zombies to Zombie Toobworld and vampires to Nosferatoob.)

There are such "replicants" on Earth Prime-Time, but they are a mere handful and hiding their presence from the Toobworld at large.  Jana Loren ('Twilight Zone' - "The Lateness Of The Hour"), Questor ("The Questor Tapes"), Hymie ('Get Smart') and "The Man" ("Project Tin Man") are just a few of such characters who are blending in as best they can.

I'm hoping I'll be able to find a copy of 'Akta Manniskor' (love the look and sound of that title!) with English subtitles.  (Amazon offered a different region DVD but it had French subtitles).  And then I'll have to check out 'Humans' when it finally airs on AMC - mayhaps the two series can share the same world since owning hubots seems to be a global phenom......


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