HBO rolled out the first episode of the much hyped and highly anticipated series called Westworld tonight. I know that this was only the top layer of a series that’s likely to be far deeper than what we’ve seen. But to be absolutely up-front about it, I was sorely disappointed.
After some terrific, very interesting and intriguing images that were shown during the opening credits, the episode had no place to go but downhill.
Not like a locomotive steaming across a bridge that has been blown up. No, much slower than that. In fact, very early on people are arriving at a town somewhere in the vicinity of what looks like Monument Valley as well as the Grand Canyon
The time period appears to be the 1870’s or 1880’s, and the locations, the set design, and the costumes sure place this in the same place as every western movie you’ve ever seen.
So what goes on in this town? The arriving train disgorges its passengers and we learn that most if not all of them have paid money to someone somewhere in the real and modern world (none of that is explained besides the fact that these guests have paid money) to visit Westworld.
Westworld is most easily described as a resort that will fulfill your dreams. The people already in Westworld look and sound like people. They act like real people. There’s just one thing. They are all machines or androids of some kind.
You know, in this setting you can expect to see homesteaders, cowboys, Indians, sheriffs or marshalls with deputies, bartenders, hookers, con-men running some games of chance, and other people who are just going about their business as townsfolk.
The key element in how to tell the difference about who is real, meaning a guest visitor, and who is a host – that is, someone who is already there – is revealed early but not explained.
The hosts do not react at all when an insect or a house fly crawls on their face, or even sits on their eyeball.
So people come here to relive the days of settlers, gunslingers, and the like. The hosts apparently have designated roles and they are able to repeat their actions again and again.
For example, Evan Rachel Wood, who appears to be the lead female, Dolores Abernathy, at least of the hosts, will come down the stairs in their home, say good morning to her father, and head into town. We will see this happen four separate times. Always the same except that in the fourth stanza, there’s a differently looking man as the father.
The first father apparently malfunctioned and had to be taken offline for examination and or repair. As the lead programmer (Bernard Lowe) played by Jeffrey Wright said – he went off script.
Now Wright’s character has a boss called Theresa Cullen, She’s played by the actress who starred in Borgen, a three season drama about Denmark’s first female Prime Minister. Sidse Babett Knudsen has the role. She seems much more corporate than does Lowe.