“Westworld,” a new series on HBO, is based on the 1970s era movie by the same name that depicts a theme park that allows high paying guests to visit a wild west town and interact with android “hosts” who play townspeople, many of them familiar western characters. Guests can participate in narratives such as drinking, gambling, and being serviced by the sporting ladies at the local saloon or riding with a posse to catch a desperado. One guest, though, uses Westworld to slake his sadistic urges, committing murder and rape.

The series, like the movie, is walking the well-worn path to delve into the question of what happens when androids, programmed to simulate human beings, start exhibiting unexpected behavior that suggests they are becoming human. The theme park just upgraded the programming of some of the android hosts, with some surprising and disturbing results.

In the meantime, hints are being dropped about a deeper, hidden purpose for Westworld aside from entertaining the well-heeled and adventurous. The “Man in Black,” the before mentioned sadist, is on a quest to find out what that is, though this seems to be an excuse to torture more of the host androids.

Dolores, an android who plays the daughter of a ranch owner, serves as our window into the evolving hosts of the theme park. The android hosts are programmed not to harm any living thing, even sadistic murderers, and rapists who torment them for their own amusement or even an ordinary fly. The very end of the episode shows Dolores swatting and killing a fly against her programming, showing that she had started to evolve.

Dr. Robert Ford created Westworld and uses the park to continue his development of robotic and artificial intelligence technology. Ford is the familiar archetype of the scientists who delves into things that were not meant to be delved into that has been around since Victor Frankenstein. He seems to be unaware that his upgrades may place the lives of the guests of Westworld at risk.

The viewer pretty much knows what is coming.

The android hosts will achieve some kind of consciousness and will, discovering what their situation as slaves is, revolt, with violent and tragic results. But how the series intends to get us to that point may be its most attractive draw.

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