Pilots and Premieres: “The Tomorrow People” – Series Premiere

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Tomorrow People,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Wednesdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “The Tomorrow People,” a science fiction teen drama about humans, most of whom are teenagers, who have evolved to have powers of teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy and possible other abilities, and the government organization named “Ultra” that seeks them out to neutralize them.  The action is centered on Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell), a young high school student who begins to exhibit these abilities and so much more and who is being sought out by an organized band of “superior” humans as well as by Ultra for not only his abilities but also his family connections.

When: The series premiered on the CW, Wednesday, October 9, 2013, at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show appears to be set in a large metropolis like New York City, but it is unclear (as of yet) if this is a strictly fictional universe or a fictionalized action set in realistic surrounds.

Why: I enjoy science fiction as a genre. The premise seemed pretty interesting (if a little derivative of the X-Men, though it is based on an English television show from the 70s).  The series features Mark Pellegrino (Jacob on Lost, Satan on Supernatural, a Monroe militia man pn Revolution), who is one of my favorite character television actors of today, as the primary antagonistic force.  Also, one of the executive producers is Julie Plec, who is also the executive producer and head writer for The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.  All in all, I felt this program had a decent chance of being quite good.

How – as in How Was It?

The pilot/premiere rating scale:

***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING.  HOLY SMOKES!

**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing.  I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.

*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens.  There are things I like, and things I don’t.  We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.

** – I will give it three episodes.  Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together.  No matter how unlikely.

* – Pass on this one, guys.  It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.

The Tomorrow People = ****

SYNOPSIS

Stephen (Amell) has been struggling for a year with strange occurrences, not the least of which include him waking up in foreign surroundings as if after sleepwalking, such as another couple’s bed (in another couple’s house).  Believed to have inherited an inexplicable psychosis from his father, Stephen has been undergoing psychological therapy and is taking strong anti-psychotic medication, which is often stolen by a school bully.  His friendships are strained, and he is frustrated by what seems to be a deteriorating mental state, until he is contacted by Cara (Peyton List) telepathically.  Cara and her boyfriend John (Luke Mitchell) introduce Stephen to the “Tomorrow People,” a ragtag group of teens who have enhanced abilities.  Stephen also finds out that his father abandoned his family, including his mother (Sarah Clarke, 24) and younger brother, because he also had abilities for which he is being hunted for study, and it is believed that Stephen can help locate his father, to the extent he has any interest in doing so.  Meanwhile, Ultra tracks the Tomorrow teens and is headed by Jedikiah (Pellegrino), an evolutionary biologist who seeks to minimize the threat and risk that these evolved humans in such formative years potentially pose to worldwide society.

THOUGHTS

The Tomorrow People is blessed by a concept that has already been executed to some measurement of success in the United Kingdom.  Though the overall package features humans with superhero-like abilities, the main thrust of the plot is an origin story combined with a hero’s journey – Stephen is an unlikely and unexpected hero who ends up featuring importantly on both sides of a silent war, and it is up to him to decide to which side he will offer his allegiance.  The series is also blessed by the presence of Pellegrino, a truly versatile actor who will play his morally ambiguous Jedikiah (quite a name) with all of the shades and nuances that his ambitious biologist character requires.  For these reasons alone, The Tomorrow People provides an interesting story in which to immediately become engaged.

On the other side of the coin, The Tomorrow People truly feels like a rehashing of other science fiction and comic book related tales that have enjoyed prominence and popularity since the inception of the original television program.  The concept may have originally influenced vehicles like The Terminator and been influenced by X-Men and similar ilk.  As such, the introduction of this program may succumb to bad timing, unless the writers can keep the story fresh and relevant as it progresses.

Also, and sadly, not all of the actors on this program are equal to Pellegrino’s chops.  Virtually unknown (or, perhaps, less-than-known) actors portray the teenager characters with the requisite sense of angst and melodrama that accompanies much of the CW’s fare.  Fortunately, Amell holds his own, most of the time, and offers a sensitive hero to which the viewer can easily relate, despite his enhanced qualities.  Also, an unexpected twist at the end of the pilot rendered Stephen’s journey and decisions all the more full of complications, layers, and mystery and posed some questions worthy of continued viewing for the purpose of finding the answers.  Thus, this viewer is going to keep watching and hope that the ratings and the network lend the program a chance to tell its story.

RECOMMENDATION

The Tomorrow People is recommendable to several cross-sections of viewers: science fiction fans, comic book (and ensuing adaptation) fans, the CW’s target audience, and so on. The execution of the, at times, basic and, at times, nuanced premise may be a little shaky, but this viewer gets the sense that this show will surprise us; perhaps because the twist at the end of the pilot effectively surprised at least this viewer…

THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW:

It’s too early to tell what may happen with this program.  The show has enjoyed fluctuating ratings, but it’s on the CW, a network typically more forgiving of ratings fluctuations given that the size of its nominal audience is smaller than the other networks.  Let’s see how it all fares.

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