October 11, 2013

TV: The Tomorrow People (Wed 9, CW)

As long as teenagers feel powerless and put upon, there will be a market for stories about powerful teenagers, which explains why The Tomorrow People is a concept that will not die. It started as a British series in the 1970s; a 90s version was co-produced with Nickelodeon; and in the 2000s, there were new episodes produced as radio plays to be sold on CD. And now, always on the lookout for material about beautiful young people, the CW has gotten its hands on the premise.

That premise centers on a group of young people who have taken the next step in human evolution and developed powers -- telepathy, teleportation, and telekinesis. (The special effects on the teleportation and telekinesis parts of that are really ugly.) Our hero, Stephen (Robbie Amell), is just discovering his powers, and is recruited by the local Mod Squad-esque group of shiny happy Homo Superiors -- blond hunk John (Luke Mitchell), Asian nerd Russell (Aaron Yoo), and hot babe Cara (Peyton List). Yes, those are reductionist character descriptions, but they give the characters more depth than the show does.

There is, of course, a government agency called Ultra, which is out to find and recruit other kids with powers and use them as weapons to capture and destroy the good kids with powers; this is the kind of show where one can reliably expect bombshell revelations every sweeps period to upend your notion of whether Ultra or the Mod Squad are the good guys. Ultra is headed by Dr. Jedikiah Price (the fine character actor Mark Pellegrino, bringing to the show the only shreds of subtlety it possesses).

Did I mention that Dr. Price just happens to be Stephen's uncle? (Yes, he's Uncle Jed; someone wasn't thinking about the TV-history overtones of that name choice.) Because Stephen's long-vanished father (Uncle Jed's brother) was a Tomorrow Person himself (though Uncle Jed is not), and had greater powers than any of them, and if Stephen has his father's powers, he could be the Moses of the Tomorrow People, leading them to the promised land of safety, and oh god, it's all just so stale and familiar and it makes my head hurt and somebody make it stop, please, please make it stop...

The young people are pretty to look at; Robbie Amell is the cousin of Arrow star Stephen Amell, which makes Wednesday the Amell Family FunTime Revue on the CW. Pellegrino is always entertaining, and if she's ever given anything to do, Sarah Clark might bring something interesting to the role of Stephen's mother.

And I suppose that if you're seventeen and haven't already seen 8,000 different versions of this story, it might even feel fresh enough to keep you entertained. But if you're any older than that, I can't imagine what The Tomorrow People has to offer you.

No comments: