Total Recall 2070 was a 22 episode series which premiered on the ON TV Canadian channel and was later introduced to US audiences on the ShowTime cable channel. Being on a premium cable channel meant minimal exposure for the series and as such it was not only under-appreciated but also difficult for a wide audience to actually view it and give it a chance -- and so the show never really got any kind of head start and was condemned from the get go to the point where it had to be scrapped after one season--But what a season it was. A real shame because Total Recall 2070 was one of the most original, cutting edge and unique shows to ever appear on television.
Total Recall 2070 has absolutely nothing to do with Verhoven's Total Recall film except for a few references (the Mars colonies, Virtual Trips, the Dystopian future concept and of course the name of the show). In fact, Total Recall 2070 has much more relation to Blade Runner and many dub it simply "The Blade Runner Series". To an extent this is true, however Total Recall 2070 goes far beyond Blade Runner in almost every aspect imaginable. It's just as dark, foreboding, hard-core and intelligent as Blade Runner was.
At an early glimpse the show looks like just another one of those cop shows that have littered our screen for years, but a deeper, more focused look reveals just how good this show really is. If ever there was a show that rewarded repeated viewings of episodes--this is it.
Total Recall 2070 follows the escapades of two cops in the Citizens Protection Bureau (The CPB). One is human, the other is not. During the pilot episode, Detective David Hume (the human cop) and his partner go on to check a simple disturbance call in a Rekall facility (Rekall is one of the Consortium mega corporations). Oddly enough, once they enter the facility they find several Androids which are opening fire on them. Hume's partner is killed during the shootout with the Androids and this sets the stage for Hume's new partner, Ian Favre. Hume learns that his new partner is in fact not human, but rather an Android--A Flesh and Plasma based Alpha Android, the first of its kind. Hume is of course reluctant to partner with an Android, but eventually learns to work with him. The extremely complex relationship between Hume and Favre is what this show is about.
Needless to say, the show contains many subtleties and nuances one does not pick up on first viewing (again, a similarity shared with Blade Runner). Detectives Hume and Favre solve different cases as the show goes on, but many of these cases simply serve as a background to the real dilemmas and questions this show poses. Many shows have filler episodes (filler episodes are shows which provide no insight into the main characters or the main story behind the background). Total Recall 2070 has no such episodes. With every episode, one learns more about Hume, Favre, the world in which they live in. Sometimes it's all out there for everyone to notice and at times it is presented through little subtle hints and nuances. It's those subtleties that make this show so unique and worthwhile viewing. I was finding myself eager to learn more and more about the world, about the characters (all of whom are very interesting, deep and complex characters).
The show's background seems fairly simple at first. As the show progresses one realizes how much that world affects its characters and how complex it really is. The year is 2070, the moral breakdown of society is evident, the sun is nothing more than artificial lighting, the world is dark, people are paranoid, Consortium companies (Mega Corporations) have unlimited control over the citizenry and over the government who are no more than puppet figure heads supported and funded almost exclusively by the Mega Corporations. Naturally, those corporations all vie for more power, more money, and most importantly perhaps--more control. In their quest for absolute power they will do whatever's necessary and they have no moral or legal force to truly stop them. And so, Hume and Favre solve cases (all involving a Consortium company in one way or another) and try to restore some order into an extremely chaotic world where moral and legal boundaries are nothing but extinct.
One truly has to see this show and appreciate it to realize just how great it is. Granted, it's not nearly as revolutionary as films like Metropolis, Blade Runner, Brazil, etc. But the show goes into details like no other Dystopian film has ever done. There was an absolutely enormous potential for a 2nd and 3rd seasons as is evident by the fantastic 1st and only season. Unfortunately one can truly lament about this show's relatively quick demise and realize that perhaps today's generation is simply not ready for the subjects discussed on the show. I can only hope more shows like this arise in the future. It was mesmerizing, it was cutting edge and most importantly, it was frightening. A true Libertarian's nightmare. Such intelligent shows are an extreme rarity on today's pop television and eager and curious minds are hungry for something different, something unique--Total Recall 2070 was exactly that.
P.S. Unfortunately only the pilot episode was released on DVD and on its own it is rather useless as the story truly picks up later during the season. Cable channels rarely replay the show, if ever. Thankfully, I have acquired the Japanese DVDs of the show and I heartily recommend you find them as well.