Westworld is a new show on HBO about a theme park that puts human “guests” inside of a story that is set in the American wild west in the 1800’s. The actors, or “hosts”, in the story are played by near-human robots that have artificial intelligence. Each story is scripted but it can be altered by the guests as they see fit. They can have sex with the robots, kill them at will, or really do whatever they want. The robots are programmed to harm the guests.
The first episode of the show takes us through some exposition and sets up the world, introduces us to the main characters, and sets up a very compelling mystery that is sure to unfold as the series goes on. This episode also contains some of the best acting I’ve ever seen on television. There is a term in artificial intelligence called the “uncanny valley” that describes an uneasy feeling that humans experience when they witness an imperfect resemblance to humans in a robot. This show, its actors, and its subtle computer graphics forced me to fall into the uncanny valley several times and I loved it.
The first episode is definitely worth a watch. It’s incredibly well done and it’s on HBO, so you know it’s going somewhere awesome, even if it’s unclear where we’re headed after the first watch. HBO very rarely lets me down and I do not expect Jonathan Nolan — brother of my fanboy crush Christopher Nolan — to let me down this time.
Go watch it. Get in on the ground floor.