The Tomorrow People – First Episode Preview at MCM London Comic Con

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To those familiar with the original, British version of The Tomorrow People, a typically “futuristic” 70s sci-fi series for kids, this shiny, new American update will probably seem as strange as the supernatural powers with which its characters are endowed. Packed full with glamorous-looking US actors and some impressive special effects, this is a pretty far cry from the London streets and cockney thugs that formed the backdrop for its source series.

ustv-the-tomorrow-people-peyton-list-3Not only has the show undergone a radical re-design, but it’s story also seems to have been stripped back into something much simpler and more straightforward. In tone and basic premise, it’s now a little like NBC’s Heroes, with its unwitting, genetically mutated characters being pursued by a shady, secret organisation. In this case, however, the main characters all share similar powers (i.e. “The Three Ts”: telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation) and are of roughly similar ages.

What’s more, its creators have taken the decision to market the show to a whole new audience: instead of families, this remake is clearly aimed at the much sought-after teens and young adults bracket, wherein lies Executive Producer Julie Plec‘s area of expertise, with her work on popular series The Vampire Diaries and its more recent spin-off, The Originals. The Tomorrow People’s new-found, self-conscious sex appeal is evident both in casting choices and in the romance plots that its first episode teases. As it introduces its trio of twenty-something leads (Robbie Amell, Luke Mitchell and Mad Men‘s Peyton List) the first episode hints at possible love triangles and both real and imagined relationship The-Tomorrow-People-Episode-1.01-Pilot-Promotional-Photos-1_FULLcomplications to follow. Here, creators Greg Berlanti, Phil Klemmer and Julie Plec definitely know what they’re doing.

The acting is strong, including performances from less prominent cast members like Madeleine Mantock as Astrid and Sarah Clarke as Marla Jameson, mother to our protagonist Stephen. Despite this, however, their characters at times seem a little over-familiar and almost archetypal: Marla is the anxious, long-suffering mother who must be protected from danger at all costs, Astrid is the passive, caring girlfriend who doubts our hero even as she loves him, while Stephen himself is a fatherless outsider and an unwilling adventurer, whose secret history and heroic “dead” father hold the key to explaining his seemingly unbelievable powers. There’s also a supercomputer with (naturally) an English accent (voiced by Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens), and a cold, mysterious villain (Mark Pellegrino) whose connection to Stephen is greater than it at first seems. This may well be a premature judgement, however. It can be difficult to fairly assess the intended The-Tomorrow-People-Episode-1.01-Pilot-Promotional-Photos-4_FULLdirection of a series and its upcoming character arcs from a first episode alone.

The episode was well paced, keeping its audience engaged in throughout, though dialogue was sometimes overly expositional. Again, though, this is something that will likely improve as the series progresses and comes into its own a little more.

Overall, though this show may not be intended for everyone, it is clear that its creators know their audience well, and this is a series that will doubtless be popular amongst a whole new, 21st century generation of viewers.

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Fung says:

    Astrid isn’t Stephen’s girlfriend, just a friend. You’ve really overemphasized romantic elements in this description, they’re just a small part of the show. Also, you didn’t mention a lot of the things that were retained from the 70s Tomorrow People, such as TIM, some character names, the Prime Barrier, and a base underneath a subway station. Fair enough if you don’t want to give away spoilers but when your first line is how the show is radically different, you have an obligation to be clear that there are some things that are still in common.

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