I first heard about the new HBO show Westworld on Twitter, when someone hailed it HBO’s “next big thing”. It immediately caught my attention, as HBO has produced plenty of top of line shows in the past, such as Game of Thrones, True Blood, and True Detective, just to name a few. Westworld’s premier garnered 3.3 million viewers, HBO’s biggest debut in three years. I watched the trailer a few days later and couldn’t wait to see the actual show. The trailer makes the show seem a lot scarier than it truly is, but that’s not to say WestWorld won’t get your skin tingling. I watched the show’s debut at my friend’s house, and it took me a good fifteen minutes after the show had ended to get myself to make the five minute drive home in the dark night. The incredibly dark and general creepiness notwithstanding, Westworld combines superb acting and excellent writing while also exploring the ever more important issue of the treatment and differences of artificial and human intelligence — making it one of the top TV shows for (hopefully) years to come.

Based off of the 1973 sci-fi film of the same name, Westworld is a futuristic show in which an unnamed corporation has developed androids so realistic that they have created an amusement park full of them. All of them live through their pre-programmed 24 hour lives, again and again, until their script is rewritten by programmers working for the corporation. For thirty years, the corporation has charged humans, or “Guests,” enormous sums of money to “live” in the amusement park for a set amount of time. The human guests create their own storyline prior to arriving in Westworld, or can live in one already programmed. The guests can do whatever they want, and, as promised by the corporation, will face absolutely no consequences for the decisions they make inside the park.

The park itself is based on an old western town, hence the name “Westworld.” One android in particular, Dolores, says good morning to her father in the same dress she wore the day before, and either goes into town, paints at the river, or fulfills some other storyline that programmers have written for her. Every single movement whether it be an eyebrow raise or a slight nod is a part of Dolores’s programming. At first, Dolores narrates the show, stating her belief that she has true purpose in the world, and that any day, a moment so random will occur that could change her life forever. Of course we soon learn that this is not the case. The fact that Dolores believes this, or can believe anything at all, raises questions about the nature of artificial intelligence.

Once an update hits some of the androids at the park, the top programmers and management start seeing some interesting results. The updated androids start behaving off-script and one programmer argues that the androids have become too real. I won’t go any further, but I think you can see where this is heading.

If the plot doesn’t already have you hooked, the acting and script will. Top programmer Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) excels in his role as the passionate scientist, while Sir Anthony Hopkins is perfect as the all knowing creator of androids, Dr. Robert Ford. The androids are well acted too, as both Teddy Floods (James Marsden) and Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) impress as robots. I’m not sure whether it’s placebo or not, but it does look like the androids appear slightly less dynamic than the human guests, and that’s only more praise to the actors and executive producers of the show, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan.  

The writers of the show do a great job in differentiating between real human dialogue and android dialogue. The android dialogue is quite real, as it should be; nonetheless, there is a clear juxtaposition between the android conversations and that of the guests or other humans outside of the park. The difference makes the androids seem a little less real, as the emotions and variety of expressions of real humans are greater than that of the robots (but only just).

All in all, Westworld is a marvelous mixture between Jurassic Park and The Matrix, and I cannot wait to see where it goes.

 

I first heard about the new HBO show Westworld on Twitter, when someone hailed it as HBO’s “next big thing.” It immediately caught my attention, as HBO has produced plenty of great shows in the past, like Game of Thrones. Westworld’s premier garnered 3.3 million viewers, HBO’s biggest debut in three years. The trailer makes the show seem a lot scarier than it truly is, though WestWorld will get your skin tingling. The general creepiness notwithstanding, Westworld combines superb acting and excellent writing while also exploring the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence.

Based off of the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is a futuristic show where an unnamed corporation has developed androids so realistic that they have created an amusement park full of them.  The androids live through their pre-programmed 24 hour lives again and again until their scripts are rewritten by programmers working for the corporation. For thirty years, the corporation has charged humans, or “Guests,” enormous sums of money to “live” in the amusement park for a set amount of time. The human guests create their own storyline, or can live out a pre-existing one. The guests can do whatever they want, facing absolutely no consequences.

The park itself is based on an old western town, hence the name “Westworld.” Everyday, androids in the park go through their programmed days. One android, Dolores, says good morning to her father in the same dress she wore the day before, and either goes into town, paints at the river, or fulfills another storyline that programmers have written for her.

Once an update hits some of the androids at the park, the top programmers start seeing interesting results like off-script behavior. One programmer argues that the androids have become too real.

If the plot doesn’t already have you hooked, the acting and script will. Top programmer Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) excels in his role as the passionate scientist, while Sir Anthony Hopkins is perfect as the all-knowing creator of the androids: Dr. Robert Ford. The androids are well acted too, as both Teddy Floods (James Marsden) and Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) impress as robots. I’m not sure whether it’s placebo or not, but it does look like the androids appear slightly less dynamic than the human guests, and that’s only more praise to the actors and executive producers of the show, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan.  

Westworld is a marvelous mixture between Jurassic Park and The Matrix, and I cannot wait to see where it goes.