Science fiction, a genre that gets short shrift on the broadcast networks, continues to grow on cable with the uneven debut of "Total Recall 2070," an hourlong Showtime drama series that begins Sunday with a 90-minute premiere.
In the melting-pot future envisioned by creator Art Monterastelli, who has based his project on the hit 1990 film, the handsome set design is reminiscent of "Blade Runner."
Michael Easton, best known for his guest role as a model on "Ally McBeal," stars as David Hume, a dedicated detective employed by the Citizens Protection Bureau.
In the opener, Hume's partner is killed, but his no-nonsense boss (Martin Ehrenthal) promptly pairs him up with another (Karl Pruner) whose courteous, efficient and altogether proper behavior doesn't quite seem entirely, um, human.
Solving the murder of Hume's first cohort leads to an intricate mystery linking rogue androids, European immigrants and an intrusive security chief (Nick Mancuso).
Monterastelli's scenario is most interesting when delving into experimental technology that gives the renegade androids a heightened consciousness, enabling them to experience a human's emotion and memory, but only temporarily.
Where the original film could splurge on striking special effects, the character-driven TV version will proceed on a smaller scale with Easton and Pruner, under the direction of Mario Azzopardi.
No telling where upcoming story lines will go from here for this duo, but Schwarzenegger won't be flexing his muscles as a guest star any time in their future.
* "Total Recall 2070" premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. on Showtime, with weekly episodes Friday nights. It is rated TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children younger than 14).