(Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers)

Comic Con has always been the perfect event to launch new sci-fi shows, especially something picked up by The CW.  But when various cast members and producers of The 100 arrived for their debut at Comic Con, they were certainly touting something that’s rarely said along with The CW.  Accolades.  Awards.  Top notch quality television.  


“They want to go for the Emmys, the Golden Globes, they want to be taken seriously like the Breaking Bads out there and the Mad Men out there,” said cast member Isaiah Washington during our roundtable press session at Comic Con, who plays Chancellor Jaha on the show.   


“There’s only 13 episodes in the season so it’ll feel like a really strong cable series,” said Executive Producer Jason Rothenburg.  “(The CW) is pushing us to make it darker and be more intense.  We just had a crazy meeting where we took them through the season and it was brutally intense and dark and they’re like ‘Yes! Give us more.’”


Executive Producer Matt Miller is certainly ready for the challenge to meet the higher expectations.  “It really is the Golden Age of television right now.  There’s so much great stuff out there.  And not that we’re in that company but it’s nice to aspire.  That’s where the bar has been set and we’re going do our best to get to that level.”


Shooting for the rest of the 12 episodes starts August 19th, but for the exciting pilot that was previewed at Comic Con, there’s plenty of reason to believe that high bar can be reached.  




It’s been 97 years since the earth was destroyed by a nuclear holocaust.  There are 4,000 survivors in the air on a satellite station called The Ark, all assembled originally from 12 satellites of different nations that was made up of 400 survivors.  Resources though are slim and they only have a few precious months left before it all runs out.  In order to stretch out resources, even the most minor infraction committed is punishable by death, except those under 18.  These juvenile delinquents, who committed crimes like using too much oxygen, eating too much food, chopping down a bush, treason, or even being a second child born, are incarcerated until they are 18, then executed.  


Considering time on the arc is short, it’s decided to send 100 of these juvenile delinquents to earth to see if it’s safe to live there again.  There the drama begins, as these young offenders try to survive on earth while the adults are left on The Ark to deal with their own drama as time runs out.  There’s a lot of division among the ranks both on earth and on The Ark as both sides face challenges they’ve never had to face before.  


The 100 is based on a book by Kass Morgan, which is due for release on September 3rd.  It’s interesting the TV series was made before the book was even released, but considering The 100 will be a midseason show for The CW, the book will be available first.  “It was amazing idea from the moment I saw it,” said Rothenburg.  So how close will he follow this planned book series when plotting out the TV series?  “That said, we threw the book out.” 


Rothenburg said they didn’t want to follow the premise exactly because the book is different in that it takes place 1500 years after the holocaust and the earth is filled with things like large mutants roaming around.  “My approach was to ground it so that was everything was a little bit more believable.  Frankly 100 years of space isn’t possible as we all know in real life but I thought it was more believable.  That applies across the board in the world we’re creating in the show.  In terms of where we’re going we not handcuffed, we have it for inspiration as much as we need it.”  


After the Pilot was previewed at Comic Con, some of the comparisons thrown around was “Battlestar Galactica meets Lost.”  Rothenburg especially has heard those comparisons to Lost.  “We know what story we’re telling from day one.  There won’t be any ‘Hmm, what’s the polar bear?’  I love the polar bear, I love how they tried to explain it at the end, but there won’t be any lingering questions like that.”  


Rothenburg and Miller however are using The Walking Dead and Game and Thrones for inspiration.  “The Walking Dead is a show that we’re obsessed with as we are with Game of Thrones and we’re sort of stealing from all of them. Game of Thrones is the show for us.  There’s ten different story lines unfolding, the characters never meet each other.  We’ve got The Ark and the ground and those characters are going to be separated for a while but we can see by their success to keep those two worlds married in a really intense way.  The Walking Dead every season is mind blowing twists they go to a new place and we’re going to travel our group around too.”  


“But there also can be the reshuffling of the deck almost between seasons,” added Miller.  “You want to look at each season as it’s own story and then what are you going to do in season two to top that.  We’re hoping to have those game changers throughout the season and certainly at the final of the season where people are like ‘I never saw that coming.’  And then it can pave the way for a whole new season.”  


But this is The CW, aka The Gossip Girl network.  Is this show going to appeal to the network’s notorious 18-34 demographic?  “With the brand new world the possibilities are endless where the story lines can go.  It’s got something for everybody,” said Marie Avgeropolous, who plays Octavia Black.   “The younger generation of the hundred on earth, the older generation cast in space.  We joke our demographic is 13 to 95.” 


Isaiah Washington certainly loves the broad appeal this show can have.  “Obviously, you’re going to have all walks of life.  It’s going to be a very diversified show where I’m very into that.  We’re going to have strong women, the characters are very strong.  Paige Turco, Eliza Taylor, Marie Avgeropoulos.  You have something for everyone.”




Assembling this strong ensemble cast wasn’t easy according to Rothenburg and Miller, especially when a lot of these young actors are coming to Hollywood with the idea that they’ll only work with films.  Washington and former Lost cast member Henry Ian Cusick were on board early, but getting the young people for the earth scenes took some work.  Eliza Taylor had literally gotten off the boat from Australia and found this instead of the film roles she desired.  Rothenburg had to be persistent with Thomas McDonell, who plays Finn.   “He basically said no three times and I refused to accept it.”  


Henry Ian Cusick just loved the script, plus given his background he feels quite comfortable with sci-fi.  “When I read this script, it was one of the few I got to the end of.  It was a real page turner for me.  As I’ve said, the sci-fi genre I really enjoy.  I like thinking about what could he out there and I love the questions that sci-fi poses, and they offered it to me.” 


Isaiah Washington wouldn’t read the script for three weeks, but prodding from his wife finally got him on board.  The story sold itself.  “I read the speech of Chancellor Jaha and I was like ‘We can get away with this?  We can actually tell these kind of stories?  We can actually address humanity as it is but be in the future?  So we can probably have some influence to make better human beings as they’re watching the show? What?  Oh wow.  The CW network is going to let this happen?  They’re going to pay me to do this?  To do what I want to do in the world, to try and make everything better from storytelling?’” 


Luckily, the selling point that television is very strong right now and movies are struggling also worked with everyone.  When the casting was all done, everyone knew they had something special.  “You never know with the cast until you actually shoot and they had wonderful chemistry so we’re very, very lucky,” said Miller. 


Looking Ahead


The cast members didn’t know what was coming for their characters in the remainder of the season, having only done the pilot.  They did have some ideas as to where their characters might go though.  


Isaiah Washington knows that despite betrayals (and there’s a big one in the Pilot), his character has to move past all that.   “That juxtaposition, that complexity of going ‘I don’t like you and I don’t trust you but I need you.’  It’s kind of like life.  What does that look like?  I can’t think about myself.  I’ve got to think about 4,000 people.” 


“Octavia Black has got a chip on her shoulder, “ said Marie Avgeropoulos, whose  character also is on earth with her older brother, Bellamy (played by Bob Morley).  Octavia’s mother was executed for having a second child and hiding it, so Octavia as been imprisoned her whole life.  The trip to earth is her first taste of freedom.  “I’ve been told Octavia get’s passed around like a hot potato.  (She’s) the only one with any family down (on the ground) and I’m assuming he’s going to have a very hard time with that.”  


In the Pilot, there’s implied tension between Henry Ian Cusick’s Councillor Kane and Washington’s Chancellor Jaha. “He’s very pragmatic,“ said Cusick of Kane, believing that there’s more to his character’s motivations than the first impressions from the Pilot.  “The situation he’s in, he’s in a spaceship that’s dying and he’s got 4,000 people that may not make it.  He’s not cuddly and soft.  He’s got big decisions to make and he’s got to have big balls to cut those people.”


Overall, the setup from the Pilot delivers for huge potential for future story lines.  “The beauty of having 100 kids on the ground and thousands up on the ark is you can constantly be introducing new characters that you haven’t met before,” said Miller.  


There’s also going to be plenty of surprises and life or death stakes, both on the ground and up in the sky.  “With the spaceship dying, I think there’s going to be a lot of discussion how do we go ahead,” said Cusick.  “You want those kind of life and death stakes,” explained Miller.  “On the ground there will be main characters that are killed in these first 13 episodes, hopefully in a very surprising way.”  


Miller finds such twists through vital to the story and success of the series.  “It is surprising and it also says to people going forward we’re willing to take some chances with the storytelling.  It’s those kind of shocking and surprising moments that we hopefully want to sprinkle throughout the whole season.”   


But it’s not all blight though.  There’s plenty of other things to see.  “I think we have one of the most beautiful casts on television,” said Washington.   


Indeed they do.  Below are some photos from Comic Con to prove it, and the official preview from The CW.   Look for The 100 midseason on The CW.  


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