Robotic reality: Dystopian sci-fi drama 'Humans' returns to AMC

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Andrew Warren / TV Media
Gemma Chan in a scene from "Humans"

Gemma Chan in a scene from "Humans"

Robotic reality: AMC is bulking up the cast of its science fiction drama for its second season. Carrie-Anne Moss, of "The Matrix" (1999) fame, is just one of the new faces set to star in the sophomore season of "Humans," premiering Monday, Feb. 13.

The critically loved series, a joint production between AMC and the U.K.'s Channel 4, is set in an alternate present where extraordinarily human-like robots called "synths" have become an accepted and normal part of everyday life. Moss, who has also starred in Oscar-nominated films "Memento" (2000) and "Chocolat" (2000), plays Dr. Athena Morrow, an expert in artificial intelligence whose motives are not necessarily what they appear to be.

She's joined on screen by several other newcomers to the series. Marshall Allman ("Bates Motel"), Sonya Cassidy ("Olympus"), Letitia Wright ("My Brother the Devil," 2012) and Bella Dayne ("American Horror Story") are among the new faces who will be popping up throughout the eight-episode season.

Season 2 of "Humans" picks up just a few months after season 1. The lines between humans and machines continue to blur as the synth Niska (Emily Berrington, "24: Live Another Day"), who has gained consciousness and become self-aware, continues to elude capture while she decides what to do with the consciousness code.

Gemma Chan ("Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," 2016), Katherine Parkinson ("The IT Crowd"), Colin Morgan ("Merlin") and Tom Goodman-Hill ("Mr Selfridge"), all stars from the series' first season, also return for the eerily dystopian second.

AMC's "Humans" uploads its second season to our consciousness beginning Monday, Feb. 13.


Port-endia: Portland's own sketch comedy show is coming to an end. IFC's "Portlandia" is currently in the midst of its seventh season, but hasn't stopped the big news about its next one from making headlines -- namely, that the eighth season will be the show's last.

Set entirely in and around Portland, Oregon, "Portlandia" is a four-time Emmy-winning sketch comedy series starring "Saturday Night Live's" Fred Armisen and "Transparent's" Carrie Brownstein in a variety of roles.

The on-screen chemistry between the two is wicked to watch, even as they seamlessly switch from playing one character to another. Each episode finds the duo taking on a variety of recurring roles, from Spyke and Iris (a couple of hipsters who abhor anything and everything even remotely "mainstream") to Peter and Nance (a middle-aged couple with a tendency to go way too far in everything they do).

It's a total sendup of Portland's reputation as a counterculture bastion, something that both comedians, who've lived in the city at various points in their lives, know all too well.

Armisen's sketch comedy roots are strong: He was a regular in "SNL" from 2002 to 2013, and still makes frequent appearances on the long-running show. He also has musical chops to back up his funny bone; he's the lead of The 8G Band, the house band for "Late Night With Seth Meyers."

Brownstein's career has taken the opposite path: music first, sketch comedy later. Her band Sleater-Kinney has been hailed by critics as one of the best rock groups in decades, and a Rolling Stone reader poll named her one of the most underrated guitarists of all time.

Together, Armisen and Brownstein have an incredible on-screen chemistry that has one more season to go -- after the current one wraps up, of course. The penultimate season of "Portlandia" currently airs on IFC.


Winner, winner, chicken dinner: "Breaking Bad's" infamous poultry fryer is returning to Albuquerque. Giancarlo Esposito's ("The Usual Suspects," 1995) time as drug kingpin Gus Fring in "Breaking Bad" made the character into a fan favorite, and he's joining the cast for the third season of that show's spinoff, "Better Call Saul," premiering Monday, April 10, on AMC.

In "Breaking Bad," Esposito's Fring was an Albuquerque businessman who owned a popular chain of fried chicken joints and an industrial laundry business. Both were fronts for his real moneymaker: Fring was a prolific drug distributor, using his legitimate businesses to cover up the truth going on behind the scenes.

Since "Better Call Saul" is a prequel series set several years before the start of "Breaking Bad," the extent of Fring's involvement in the criminal underworld at that time is still unknown, as is how many episodes Esposito will appear in.

What is known, though, is that "Better Call Saul" has had no problems carving its own space outside of "Breaking Bad's" shadow in its two seasons. The parent show won two Golden Globes and a whopping six Emmys in 2014, adding to the 10 Emmys that it had earned in previous years. "Better Call Saul" has so far notched two Golden Globe and 14 Emmy nominations itself, which is not bad for a spinoff.

Season 3 of "Better Call Saul" premieres Monday, April 10, on AMC.