Main cast: James Cromwell (Randolph Ludwin), Sean Astin (Charlie T Kramer), Vincent Gale (Jack Valentine), Stacy Grant (Sarah Moser), Christine Chatelain (Marissa Summer), Michael Kopsa (Ratcliffe), Sally Kellerman (The Watchbird), and Stephen Hawking (The Host)
Director: Harold Becker
Charlie Kramer invented the Watchbird, a hawk-shaped drone that is apparently is so good at what it does – zapping and killing targets – that a fleet of them eventually wins the army their war at some border. With an election coming, the POTUS sees a golden opportunity to drum up his support: the Homeland Security guy Jack Valentine convinces Charlie’s boss Randolph behind Charlie’s back to begin deploying Watchbirds as protective drones first in major cities, with plans to roll out to the rest of the country later.
Charlie is of course aghast, because killing foreign scumbags is one thing – now that his inventions are in a position to be judge, jury, and executioner of US citizens, he moans that these robots, which he claims to have programmed to have AI similar to humans, shouldn’t supplant human judgment when it comes to intent, et cetera. Then his wife conveniently gets killed as he escalates his opposition against his boss and Jack Valentine.
If you are expecting him to go on a vengeance quest, like I did, you’ll be disappointed. Charlie is a whiny, passive fat turd who spends the entire episode grumbling, moaning, and complaining even as he hypocritically continues to remain employed and collect the paycheck for the work he is so against. Nothing actually happens here, just a long, tedious episode that is designed just to preach something that is already preached too often in the sci-fi genre: AI sucks, things without humanit sucks, corporates suck, and oh yes, don’t forget: politicians suck.
I’d think they could at least deliver the sermon in an interesting manner, but no. The main character just whine, moan, and mope in a circular, repetitive manner, while Randolph just acts like the greedy capitalist turd that he is without any genuine opposition from the weak, irritating Charlie. Then the episode ends. I have to hand it to Watchbird though: at least the correct whining, wheedling useless turd dies in the end. That is the sole saving grace of this waste of time. I’m tossing in an extra pity oogie because of this.
Just like that, this series has ended, too. It’s probably a good thing this series is never renewed, as it has been far less interesting than Masters of Horror. At least that one has gore and nudity to compensate for some of its weaker episodes. This series seems more interested in making tired political statements in the most boring ways possible.