The Tomorrow People: Pilot Review

Although I’m generally a fan of such things, I’ve somehow never seen the original 1970’s British series. Frankly I’m a bit surprised that anyone in the US has seen it and even more surprised given what I’ve heard about the series that anyone would chose to remake it! I guess if you can look past the 70s naffness then it is a pretty good fit for The CW Network (home of Supernatural, Arrow and The Vampire Diaries) – teenagers with superpowers. Plenty of potential for all kinds of angsty variations of “with great power comes great responsibility” while having complicated relationships and wearing as few shirts (for the guys) and as much lipgloss (not limited to the girls) as possible. I’m not being snooty about that (well, I am, but only for comic effect). I can enjoy a trashy American teen series as much as the next thirty something Brit, but Tomorrow People utterly failed to grab me and I’ve been trying to work out why.

I think it’s mostly due to the obviousness of it all. There was nothing either subtle, clever or original about any of it. I don’t know the details of the original series, so I don’t know or care how much is carried over and how much is new. There were a few opportunities to go in interesting directions (eg making the enemy less “mu ha ha we are evil” and actually having them follow through on the more interesting moral questions) but the writers steered away from them as if they were on fire.

It also feels a little like the writers ran into the super-power candy store and took everything they could lay their hands on. Each of the Tomorrow People gets teleportation, telepathy AND telekinesis, and then the hero seems to have extra bonus powers on top of that as well. Even Professor Xavier only got two of those! Actually X-Men is another interesting comparison, everyone having different powers is part of what made it interesting, different specialities combining in different ways. Each new character brought new potential and new chaos. But as The Tomorrow People are all the same, all they’ve got going for them are their personalities.

Which would be fine if they actually had any personality beyond cardboard cut out American teenagers. They immediately fall into the expected patterns of naive newbie, alpha male leader, voice of reason… blah blah blah. And of course the immediate romantic triangle that looms into view immediately. Oh, and of course the fact that all the teenagers are played by people who are at least 25. Just to keep it in the family as well the lead actor in this is played by the cousin of the lead actor in Arrow.

I haven’t even touched on the idiotic science, clunky “he’s not ready to hear that yet” narrative or the cheesy voice-over. It’s all just paint-by-numbers kind of stuff. I could possibly have forgiven all those crimes though if only it had some sense of irony or style to it. Something like Buffy, or even Gossip Girl had equally stupid plots, but they filled the scripts with snappy dialogue and some energy.

Once again a new series is launched which leaves me wanting to do nothing but dig out some dvds and re-watch other series from 5, 10 or even 15 years ago. There was nothing in this show that really sold me on watching to the end of the episode let alone to the end of the season.

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  1. May 16th, 2014
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