After watching the Pilot of The Tomorrow People, I decided I needed to see another week before forming an opinion, or at least trying to give one. The Pilot did it’s job of establishing a basic premise, but other than the obligatory fight scenes and teen high school angst, I wasn’t exactly sure where they were going with this. Sadly, another hour only reinforced my bland opinion of the Pilot. As a matter of fact, both the Pilot and episode two, “In Too Deep” felt like the same episode. So I’m left to wonder, is there any more to this than what we’ve seen?
I know it’s about kids with special abilities called “tomorrow people” vs. the bad government guys that want for reasons unknown to obliterate this unhuman race from the face of the planet. After two hours though that’s still all we know. Why again does Ultra want this race dead? Because a bigoted Dr. Price say so? Is this really just a case of some paranoid dudes that don’t have the three t’s (teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy) that these kids have and are getting freaked out about it? If there is more, those clues haven’t been planted. Where is all this going other than Stephen wants to find his Dad? What exactly will happen when he finds him? They all have ice cream and go home? Why is he important?
The show’s problem isn’t just uncertainty over how big or small the mythology wants to delve. So far no characters are really standing out either, except Mark Pellegrino’s Dr. Price. That guy is chilling and ruthless, but does a show really work when you find yourself rooting for the bad guy? Robbie Amell’s Stephen so far is a typical cliche that’s been seen in any WB/CW teen based sci-fi show ever done, even though I find Amell to be likable and a decent lead actor. Stephen’s being forced into coming of age based on circumstances beyond his control and face his destiny, but we still aren’t sure what that destiny is. Be a tomorrow person and live? What does being the chosen one mean? He gets to fetch the pizza on dinner and a movie night at the hideout?
Cara and John both lack any real charisma and chemistry, and any time given to their story right now seems wasteful. I’m not sure what their purpose is other than to hide out in the underground lair and wrestle, coming out long enough to get in a little fight action before going back to their hiding places and talking a lot, waiting for the next new kid to surface, aka “breakout.”
I’m not feeling the family drama either involving Stephen, especially the pain being inflicted upon his mother over Stephen’s recent changes and the lingering family pain of his Dad leaving. It all seems more forced rather than delivering the emotional punch it was intended to deliver. I see it all building up to one of two outcomes. Either it’s too soon to introduce such drama without us really getting to know the characters, or it’s meant to be ambiguous so a big reveal can shock us later. Assuming audiences will stick around later. Either way, it makes me question why they are focusing on that pain this early when so much is lacking in the story as it is. Plus, it’s been done, constantly.
Granted, despite my lack of connection with the story and characters so far, there’s still plenty of potential here. The show should really focus on the stakes and show us in painstaking ways what the real consequences are if this race of tomorrow people disappear or cease to exist. I’m not feeling the urgency, other than Ultra are being dicks and these teens are rebelling. I see enough of that on the Disney channel (not in a good way). If they all blew each other up in week three, I wouldn’t exactly be sad.
There’s a number of ways this show can go, but struggling for identity can be a very dangerous thing for a young show, especially a CW show. Given the short attention spans of viewers and the loads of competition in other TV shows out there, I’m not convinced that The Tomorrow People is unique enough to keep coming back for more. I’ll keep one eye on the show, and then return later if things pick up, but as of now I’m not dying to see what’s going to happen next week. Please let me know if something does.