There’s no doubt that HBO has given us some of the best television programs in history. Shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Game of Thrones have been cemented in the small screen hall of fame. But with GoT on its way out, HBO is looking for their next big hit, something they’ve failed to do the last few years. Their fortunes may have changed, however, with Westworld, a sci-fi thriller that crosses Jurassic Park with The Terminator and sprinkles in bits of The Truman Show and your favorite western. It’s the ultimate hybrid!
Westworld, based off Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, was created by Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest) and Lisa Joy and includes J. J. Abrams as executive producer. Its expansive and fantastic cast features the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wood, and Luke Hemsworth.
The show is set in a Wild West theme park that would put anything Disney can do to shame. Instead of giant fluffy mice and unrealistically happy employees, Westworld is inhabited by ultra-realistic robots that are programmed to interact with the guests and respond to any of their desires. These extremely wealthy visitors can do anything from explore the breathtakingly designed western world, hunt and kill ruthless outlaws, or drink and sleep with beautiful hookers. It really is a no rules Wild West.
The story jumps between events happening in the park and a futuristic office where park creator, Dr. Robert Ford (Hopkins), head programmer Bernard Lowe (Wright), executive Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), and others work to create new characters and troubleshoot any problems guests may have with the park. It’s evident that these robots mean a lot to their creators, and like the parks guests, their realism has forced some unusual, and ultimately dangerous, attraction.
While Westworld may seem like the perfect vacation, a recent update to the “cast” has caused some of the robots to show some unusual behavior and go too far off script. One of these robots is Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who lives a life like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day but doesn’t actually realize it. Each day she rides into town to do some shopping or she’ll go down to the river and paint the scenery, waiting for guests to interact with her and change the script. The pilot episode doesn’t delve too deep into her changing personality but instead focuses on showing the audience the nature of this theme park. But, as the developers of the park have sensed, something isn’t right, and it’s only a matter of time until we see things go awry.
The first hour gives us everything from ruthless murder, and mysterious characters, to loving bonds and strained relationships. That being said, the pilot episode of Westworld is still slow. It focuses on setting the scene and giving the viewers a taste of what being a guest of the theme park entails. It introduces us to characters but leaves us asking who they really are and what makes them tick. Don’t let this turn you off, though. As the show progresses, we can expect a lot of action and some serious character development. We will see a balance between Westworld and the motivations and reactions of those who are creating it. It’ll aim to show us what a world featuring ultra-realistic robots could be like while also taking us back in time to a Wild West that had little order and no remorse. I mean it’s already shown it’ll have as much blood and sex as Game of Thrones, let’s just hope it has the story to back it up. If it does, though, HBO could be sitting on their next big hit.