USA Network’s descent into darker programming continues with “Mr. Robot” (10 tonight), a hacker drama with shades of “Dexter.”
The “Mr. Robot” pilot is too long — one montage drags on interminably — but it begins and ends on intriguing notes. It’s completely unclear what the show will be on a weekly basis, which makes jumping in a risky proposition. (USA made only the first episode available for review.)
When: 10 tonight, USA Network.
Starring: Rami Malek, Christian Slater.
Created and written by Sam Esmail, “Mr. Robot” follows social anxiety-riddled, bug-eyed Elliot (Rami Malek, “Generation Kill”) — he’d be a great match for Crazy Eyes on “Orange Is the New Black” — as he entertains paranoid delusions of being followed (or is that really happening?) and pontificates on the evils of capitalism, the disparity between rich and poor, the disappointment of fallen heroes (clips play showing Bill Cosby, Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods), and corporations that are ruining the world.
Elliot works as a cybersecurity specialist by day, but he’s a hacker by night, bringing to light a child pornographer and reporting him to the police. But Elliot’s no Boy Scout.
When he’s not engaging in drug-fueled sex with his dealer, he’s stalking the boyfriend of his therapist (Gloria Reuben).
In the premiere episode, Elliot’s work and dark, cynical world views collide when one of his company’s corporate clients gets hacked, and Elliot meets the hacker responsible (Christian Slater), who tempts Elliot to join the revolution by using his computer skills to damage the client.
Through it all, viewers hear Elliot’s dark inner thoughts, which makes “Mr. Robot” reminiscent of “Dexter.” But Elliot’s not a killer — so far — just a destroyer of lives and livelihoods.
The pilot ends at an ambiguous but tantalizing place, and where it goes in episode two will determine whether there’s reason to set a season pass for “Mr. Robot.”
TV writer Rob Owen: email@example.com or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.
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