Can AMC’s ‘Humans’ and ‘Badlands’ Measure Up to ‘Mad Men’?


More than a year after the end of Breaking Bad, AMC is preparing to wrap up another one of its biggest shows, Mad Men. With the acclaimed period drama set to air the second half of its final season next month, the network is now turning its attention to two new original series: the sci-fi drama Humans, and the martial arts show Into The Badlands.

AMC just dropped short teasers for both of the upcoming shows, which are set to premiere later this year. Written by British duo Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (Spooks), Humans is set in a parallel present where the must-have gadget for every family is a “Synth” — a highly developed robotic servant that’s eerily similar to its live counterparts. The eight-part series, adapted from the Swedish show Real Humans, follows a strained suburban family, who purchase a refurbished Synth in the hopes of transforming the way they live. Instead, they discover that sharing life with a machine can have chilling consequences.

Though the just-premiered teaser (seen above) doesn’t give much insight into specific plot details, viewers do get their first look at Gemme Chan as the main Synth in question, Anita, who seems accommodating and servile at first, but quickly reveals a different and darker side. Katherine Parkinson and Tom Goodman-Hill also star as the wife and husband of the family. William Hurt portrays George, a widower who treats his own outdated Synth, Odi, like a son. Colin Morgan, Rebecca Front, and Neil Maskell round out the rest of the cast.


Also on the network’s slate is Into the Badlands, from Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar. Described as a “genre-bending martial arts series,” Badlands is set in a land controlled by feudal barons. Loosely based on the old Chinese tale “Journey to the West,” and directed by David Dobkin (The Judge, Shanghai Knights), the series chronicles the story of a ruthless, well-trained warrior named Sunny and a young boy who embark on a journey together across a dangerous land to find enlightenment. Daniel Wu (City of Glass) stars as Sunny. The show also features Emily Beecham (28 Weeks Later), Sarah Bolger (The Tudors) and Oliver Stark (My Hero).

As with Humans, the brief teaser doesn’t exactly give much away, but it does set an intriguing, if somewhat ominous tone, for the series. Opening with the scene of an empty wooded area, the short clip then zooms in to a tip of a blade, before flashing to a close-up of Wu as Sunny. “There is no God in the badlands,” his character says threateningly in the background.

Both shows mark interesting and more unexpected entries for AMC, which is clearly hoping to find its next huge success in this batch of original programming. Humans and Into the Badlands aren’t the only new shows the channel has in the works. The network is has its upcoming, highly anticipated spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, which is set in L.A., and will premiere this summer. Given how well the flagship series performs, it seems likely that AMC can count on the monstrous Walking Dead fan base to make the prequel a hit. Whether entirely new shows like Humans and Into the Badlands will also prove to be big enough draws to help the network fill the Mad Men void remains to be seen.

Humans will premiere this summer, while Into the Badlands is expected to hit the small screen in the fall.

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