With all the substandard shows on offer across the plethora of television networks, the appearance of Mr. Robot and its premiere episode of Hello Friend on the USA equals falling in love again. This first look at the new series introduces viewers to Elliot, a gifted schizophrenic, who appears to have a bit of autism in his makeup, who works in cyber security by day and hacks users as a past time.
The hero of the piece, played by Rami Malik (Night of the Museum 1,2,3, Need for Speed) is all “deer in the headlights” wide-eyed and spacey. Not all the time, but at the start of the show his look is a bit disconcerting. Despite this socially inept man’s odd appearance and the fact that he is speaking to an invisible mate, Hello Friend, which is the excuse for Malik’s voice over narration of events, thoughts, and plot line directions; Elliot is likable and the audience are drawn to him. While in real life he could be a bit off putting, in the show the character works.
The computer whiz self-medicates by snorting morphine, which he obtains illegally from a “pusher” whom he sleeps with later on after indulging in some “pure Molly” with her. This is one of the more amusing moments in the show. The camera pans back from a close up of Elliot smoking to reveal the bare bottom of his dealer as she sleeps next to him. His line about not making decisions while high is delivered perfectly.
The plot, in the premiere segment, has a mysterious chap dressed in white paint-spattered blue jeans, a work coat and white baseball cap following Elliot around. Carrying a paper cup with change in it, the man (played by Christian Slater in yet another try at television) “bumps into” the computer tech expert several times before finally introducing himself, sort of.
The whole series revolves around a group of hackers whose aim is total anarchy through the mechanization of big conglomerate account tampering. The first step is taking down the E corporation, which Elliot refers to as “Evil Corporation” and each time the logo appears that is how it looks, Evil vs E. Nice touch.
The premiere episode is helmed by none other than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev. This goes a long way toward explaining why the show works so incredibly well. Fast paced, splendidly put together and perfectly photographed by Tim Ives, this first episode goes beyond brilliant in catching and keeping the viewer entertained throughout.
Rami Malek is brilliant as the young challenged man who wants to change the world, punish the wicked and free himself of his delusions. Christian Slater, in his role as Mr. Robot, appears to be almost a McGuffin in this series and as such does what he does best; play himself. Slater is always an infinite joy to watch in anything as he brings much to the table playing various versions of himself.
Portia Doubleday is not allowed to do much. Her character walks around with a “smacked arse” look stamped on her face and has abysmal taste in men. She is also Elliot’s best friend and has been since childhood. Angela does appear to have some romantic inclination towards her pal but does not act on it.
With one filming location at Coney Island, and who wouldn’t want to take their coffee break at a ferris wheel that still works, the show looks very in the “now.” With the plot and the way that Elliot sees the world of the Internet, Mr. Robot may become one of the best shows on television, beating Stitchers, Wayward Pines and Bates Motel as the new “must see TV.”
Mr. Robot premieres properly June 24 on USA network but can be seen now on the Internet. This is one new show to be excited about, it certainly got my pulse racing and made me fall in love with American television all over again.