TV REVIEW: The Tomorrow People, Ep. 1.01 “Pilot” and 1.02 “In Too Deep”

Promo for CW The Tomorrow PeopleWhenever a new show premieres, I hate to base my opinion solely on the pilot. Oftentimes, pilot episodes are different beasts than the series itself – often switching crews and location (as happened here), and generally “feeling” different after the pilot.

I like to give shows two to three episodes to really hit me. Given that “The Tomorrow People” (let’s just call it TTP for short) is now two episodes in, I consider it fair game. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the plot points – I’ll save that for later episodes – but rather give my overall impression of the show so far.

I have to say, I was curious when the CW announced TTP. Over the past few years, the network has established a stable of quality shows; from the stalwart “Supernatural”, to last year’s addition of the increasingly popular “Arrow”. However, it also has a habit of creating shows based on existing source material. The original in this case is the ITV series that ran in the 1970’s. The basic premise of TTP is something that is right up my alley – people with superpowers living among us. This general concept has been covered before in shows such as “Heroes” and the gone-too-soon “Alphas”. But how will the CW handle another genre show ?

Robbie Amell hasn’t had much of a chance yet to flex his acting muscles (and let’s be serious, this is a CW show, acting comes secondary to visual appeal) but I’m hoping he’s able to pull off leading the show. The CW made an excellent choice in casting veteran Mark Pellegrino as Jedikiah (seriously, who comes up with these names?). I think the man could make reading a phone book sound sinister. The only other noticeable character for me is Cara (Peyton List) – while we haven’t gotten to see too much of her yet, she gives the impression of a girl who could actually throw a punch, and mean it. At this point, the remaining characters just come across as filler – to the point where I actually had to look up their names because I couldn’t remember them from the show.

Breaking it down into the two separate episodes, I found that the pilot left me…wanting. Instead of allowing the characters to develop organically, and most especially the lead, the writers seemed to feel it was a good idea to chuck as many major plot points at us as possible. We learn that Stephen is special, that there are others like him (Homo Superior), his dad abandoned him when he was young and was the most powerful of TTP, there is a sinister organization called Ultra whose mission is to hunt down all of TPP and TPP are incapable of killing others.

We also come to find out that there are three powers; teleportation, telekinesis, and telepathy. Oh, but wait, we also learn that Stephen is *extra* special, because he somehow manages to slow down time, which is an entirely new power. And we also learn that the bad dude Jedikiah, is, of course, Stephen’s uncle. I mean, these are major plot points that could easily have been revealed over the first part of the season, and to more dramatic effect. But no, the writers felt the need to hit us over the head with Stephen’s “specialness” right out of the gate. And I think this was done at the detriment of character development.

Looking back at when Supernatural premiered, the pilot episode actually remains my favourite of the series, because the chemistry between the boys hits you right off the bat. With TPP, the characters aside from Stephen and Jedikah all feel like extraneous fluff. Even Stephen’s supposed best friend, Astrid, is barely established. I’m sure she will be important over the course of the series, but as of right now, there is zero chemistry between her and Stephen. Though as a personal request, I really hope the writers give the character of Russell more to do.

That brings us to the second episode; the first “real” episode – the pilot is usually shot simply to get the series order, so the second episode is more likely to give a viewer a better feel for the tone of the show. This is especially true with TTP, as production shifted from New York to Vancouver. And while Vancouver has substituted for pretty much every major city in America, it really can’t replicate the feeling of the Big Apple (as a local Vancouverite I may be a little biased – the ability to recognize buildings makes the use of Vancouver all that much more obvious).

In this episode, Stephen is officially working for Ultra in an effort to keep an eye on things from the inside (because that never turns out badly). The main plot of this episode revolves around capturing one particular Homo Superior who is running around town doing very bad things – which I think sets up how this season is going to play out overall. Instead of focusing on how TPP live in and deal with, regular society, I have a feeling each week will instead focus on a particular Home Superior, and the ongoing conflict between TTP and Ultra.

Overall, I’m not going to give up on this show yet. I wasn’t fond of Arrow initially either, but I think that show found its footing after the first half of the season. TTP hasn’t received an episode order for the back nine, but have received an additional 3 episode order bringing the total to 16. I would say that that shows a degree of confidence in the show, but it could simply be caution and the studio execs choosing to wait it out. After all, the same thing happened with “Beauty and the Beast” and “Emily Owens MD” last year – and only one of those went on for a full series pickup. But if the series does continue, I’m betting on a few plot points surfacing:

  • Love triangle between Stephen, John and Cara, maybe with Astrid being thrown into the mix
  • further internal turmoil with Stephen and which side he is on
  • Astrid finding out about Stephen’s abilities, probably due to a life threatening situation
  • family conflict as Stephen tries to balance his new life while still keeping his family in the dark about his abilities (though the brother will likely find out at some point)

Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Aurra

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