We've Got Booze, Dames, and Robots in the First Episode of Scifi Noir Automata

By Beth Elderkin on at

Automata is a classic story of two hardened detectives solving crimes and scoring ladies in Prohibition-era New York City. Except this time, one of them’s a robot, played by Doug Jones.

The first episode of Automata, Van Alan’s free, five-part scifi series based on the Penny Arcade comic series of the same name, is now available online. Grimm’s Basil Harris stars as Sam Regal, a toothpick-chewing private dick who’s basically a male Veronica Mars — catching dames breaking laws and hearts to collect a check from their unwitting husbands. After all, this is Prohibition times we’re talking about — vices are strictly forbidden. Only in this reality, it’s not booze that’s the societal problem. It’s robots.

This is a world where automatons have become a regular part of everyday life, inspiring a moral panic that eventually led to a ban on all future production of these steel-faced androids. Remaining androids — like Sam’s partner, Carl Swangee (Jones) — have become a lower servant caste, facing widespread discrimination as well as threats to their safety and well-being. But, as we see in the debut episode, they can also pose a threat themselves.

The first episode has its ups and downs, but ends on a cliffhanger that makes me curious to see where this scifi noir is headed. Plus, I can’t resist a good vest and tie combo. Those robots are looking sharp. New episodes of the five-part series come out every Tuesday on Facebook and Youtube.