TV: Westworld - S01 E01 - The Original - Reviewed

Being a die hard fan of science fiction and the Western genres, the amalgamation of the two is a dream come true. With a thrilling cinematic feel, a top level cast, and a little taste of where they're headed, this pilot episode of Westworld is one of the best things to hit HBO since the first season of Oz or True Blood. Kicking right off with a brave beginning sequence featuring a nude Evan Rachel Wood among a sterile scientific backdrop, the Home Box Office might finally have another hit on their hands. 

After forty years, Michael Crichton's creation is back with a new series. Despite multiple delays and various production issues, the show finally made its grand debut tonight in stunning fashion. Blending hard sci-fi with Western elements, the original programming department at the network had their work cut out for them. Using the baseline story from the classic movie starring Yul Brynner and James Brolin, this new version of Westworld obviously advances and enhances everything the movie couldn't offer fans at the time. Set against two separate backdrops, the old west and the lab, there's a tone and feel that definitely seems like a movie. 

Posing questions on technological advancements, singularity, and the human need for absolute escapism, this new take on the Westworld property modernizes many of the same themes from the film while it almost immediately pits creation against its maker. In its first hour many doors were opened, letting viewers know that this isn't going to be a simple show. They layering of characters and the balance between worlds has just begun, giving us a nice intro, enough background, and a small look inside where the show is headed. 

Copping much of his brother's look and style, Jonathan Nolan's directorial vision absolutely lends itself to this kind of show. Considering this is only his second time sitting in the director's chair, Westworld episode one is pretty damn great. With a spectacular cast featuring James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and Rodrigo Santoro, Nolan does not feel out of his depth whatsoever. On a project like this (especially during the first episode), there needs to be a lot of control and pacing to keep the audience enthralled. Nolan delivers on all fronts. Just enough of the mystery is unraveled which in turn keeps us waiting for more. 

I'm sorry. But after Marilyn Manson, you're kinda boooooorrring.

I'm definitely tuning in again next week. Knowing that there's something fresh like this to check out for the next nine weeks is rather exciting. You just know that if Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris both agree to be part of a television series, something must be right or at least different and challenging. Westworld will continue to pose questions about our society's scientific advancements and where we might be headed with artificial intelligence. If HBO can keep the ball rolling with successive great episodes, this could be there next long running show. There are a lot of ways they can go with it. After all, there was tons of nudity already and Game of Thrones will be coming to an end. This just might be their next breakout. 

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