When John Slattery is standing in front of a giant screen, “neXt” is a pretty engaging television show. So it’s no surprise the new Fox drama chooses that way to open its pilot episode, with Slattery’s tech billionaire Paul LeBlanc speaking to a gathered group about the impending perils of innovation and how we’re all basically doomed.
What follows is a TV thriller centered on the hunt for an algorithmic super-intelligence; a self-learning program that the series’ main characters believe is murdering people to protect its secrets. In the process, “neXt” is a serial killer story and a detective show and a prophet of catastrophe, delivered together in one-hour chunks.
LeBlanc’s alarm-sounding eventually weaves its way into the work of Shea Salazar (Fernanda Andrade), leader of an FBI cybercrime task force based out of Portland. (Yes, they were on different networks, but just imagine the “Stumptown” crossover that now we’ll never get.) Along with a main trio of fellow investigators and experts, Salazar joins the effort to neutralize neXt, a pet project that originated at LeBlanc’s old company. As they all track this rogue AI across different networks, they’re left to convince a raft of skeptical gatekeepers that it’s only a matter of time before the mysterious deaths that befell some of their colleagues and acquaintances become a more widespread problem.
The strongest installment of the early bunch is the third, which finds the crew trying to find out how neXt might be connected to a New England research lab. The particular strain of techno-horror that greets them is a stripped-down expression of the nightmare hypotheticals that any video like this one can dredge up. It’s methodical and effective by virtue of recognizing what makes people inherently uneasy about expressionless and emotionless machine capability.
Where “neXt” loses some of that
In a recent interview, “Flower of Evil” star Seo Hyun Woo talked about his experience filming the hit tvN drama.
In “Flower of Evil,” Seo Hyun Woo played the role of journalist Kim Moo Jin, a childhood friend of Do Hyun Soo (played by Lee Joon Gi) and the ex-boyfriend of Do Hyun Soo’s sister Do Hae Soo (played by Jang Hee Jin).
Looking back on his time on set, the actor remarked, “We filmed the drama over a long period of time. COVID-19 happened, and there was also the flooding. The staff all went through a lot. Because filming took a long time, I ended up focusing even more on the character of Kim Moo Jin. I’m grateful to the staff that we were able to wrap up the drama without any issues.”
Seo Hyun Woo also spoke highly of his co-stars Lee Joon Gi and Jang Hee Jin, commenting, “Lee Joon Gi and Jang Hee Jin are true veteran actors. Because it was my first leading role, I was excited but also very nervous, and they understood that better than anyone. They helped me feel comfortable even starting with rehearsals.”
He went on to praise Lee Joon Gi in particular, recalling, “Lee Joon Gi is an actor that makes you wonder where all that energy is coming from: that’s how cheerful and lively he is, and he’s a person who gives everyone around him great vibes and energy. When I felt down because of my own shortcomings while acting, he would approach me first to comfort me and talk about it. He was someone who led the entire set and everyone on it that way. While playing my first lead, I learned a lot from watching Lee Joon Gi.”
Describing how Lee Joon Gi had impressed him while