The Tomorrow People – A Review

The Tomorrow People is a surprisingly entertaining little show which succeeded in doing something that a lot of shows failed at…remaking a British show for the American Market.

In fairness to that previous statement though it has some of the same bones as the British show but in many ways they are functionally very different. The original show had a distinct Doctor Who feel and that wasn’t surprising as apparently ITV at the time (mid 70’s) was looking for their own answer to the long standing BBC science fiction show.

The precursor suffered from being made in a time when special effects were just a bit silly and it dealt with everything from devil worshipers to alien Invasions and being honest in my opinion it still holds up well enough. The American remake which came out in 2013 had less scope, there were no aliens and some of the more futuristic elements were watered down or removed. They did keep the advanced A.I called TIM which was something I liked. Then again I have always been partial to artificial life with a little bit of sass it’s exactly why I liked K2-SO in the new Star Wars movie. But despite the lack of scope the special effects were good and reflected a decent budget.

Despite being a decent enough show it struggled to really find its feet and I think to an extent the BBC original hung over its head. So I wasn’t surprised when it was cancelled after one season although I was disappointed.

I’ll explain a little about the show now, throughout the 22 episodes we follow Robbie Amell’s character ‘Stephen Jameson’ as he begins to ‘break out’ (the shows terminology for someone who is discovering their status as a tomorrow person) and his inclusion into their ranks. The Tomorrow people are a separate species classified as Homo Superior because of their superhuman abilities and the general consensus that they are the next step in evolution. It’s easy to see the undertones of Heroes in this show but I think it could very well have gained a real identity of its own as a series had it been given a second season.

Now I mentioned that the Tomorrow People have abilities each Tomorrow person has what are known as the three T’s (Telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation) and use them to read people and to survive. Their also exists a fourth ability ‘Temporal manipulation’ although it’s incredibly rare to the point that only the main character (big surprise right?) and his father have it. Now just like with the X-Men or pretty much any series with superpowers the Tomorrow people are somehow not the highest on the food chain. This is because they have a genetic block which physically prevents them from Killing (if they attempt it they’ll get a debilitating and blinding headache until they either stop or pass out) and also like X-Men and Heroes their is a secret organisation which seeks to either control or eradicate all of the Tomorrow People.

Most of that backstory holds true between the original and the remake including the explanation for the name. They are called The Tomorrow People because they are the next step in human evolution…so are literally Tomorrow People.

As I mention we follow Stephen Jameson shortly after discovering his abilities (up till then he chalked hearing voices in his head up to schizophrenia instead of telepathy and the appearing in random places up to sleepwalking instead of teleportation) and him being led to the Tomorrow People by Cara Coburn (Peyton List) who’s pretty face is enough to convince the teenage boy that he’s not crazy and he’s clearly some superpowered chosen one. Joking aside I liked their relationship they play the fact that they have some sort of unspoken connection well enough then again when you have telepathy nothing really needs to be spoken. He quickly meets the rest of the Tomorrow people right In time for Stephen to help them in their fight against Ultra (the shadowy corporation bent on getting rid of them) and locating his father who was apparently some sort of Jesus figure to them.

They do pacing well enough. We learn all about the characters backgrounds in a way that feels natural and meanwhile feeding us a lot of exposition. And dealing with threats from Ultra as well as other ‘Breakouts’ (what they call people who’ve newly discovered their powers) who are more interested in stealing than living in a bunker and hiding from ‘saps’ (short for homo sapiens and their term for normal humans)

Even the characters were good. Robbie Amell (cousin of Stephen Amell of Arrow and TMNT fame) dies well in his breakout (haha get it?) Role and shows that he can give a strong performance. Peyton List also brings it showing a mixture of warmth and empathy as well as vulnerability that pegs her as a talented actress. The standout for this though had to be Luke Mitchell as John Young he’s everything a leading man should be he’s handsome, brave, smart, he has a conflicted past and he’s just cool so that’s why they made the excellent choice to make him play second fiddle to baby faced Robbie Amell. Suppose you don’t root for the guy who’s the obvious choice. That being said he was the leader in the beginning right up until making logical decisions got him in trouble and got him demoted then chucked out of the gang. His performances were some of the best and finding out he was the protégé of one of the main villains till he wised up and got out of there (there being Ultra) added a whole new layer to the character. Speaking of Villains Mark Pellegrino (Lucifer in Supernatural and the second worst dating mistake in Rita’s life in Dexter) he plays his role well and lines up his reasons for genocide quite rationally and reasonably. He became a geneticist to discover why the tomorrow people exist and believe them to be a threat to humanity. But ultimately it’s jealousy which motivates him. Jealousy of his brother and then later nephew (Amell) for having these gifts while he’s ordinary.  As reasons for being an evil bastard go it’s not the worst and at least to me the most understandable. Although I might have stopped at killing a bunch of people. Not that he’s utterly irredeemable he’s a real person he even falls in love (and with the enemy no less) and eventually his antagonism fell to the side compared to the real big bad ‘the founder’ an incredibly powerful Tomorrow Person who wants to be the most powerful.

So the characters were strong, the story was reasonably well written and well paced but it struggled to find itself compared to bigger and more established shows and so the decision  was made to not renew it for a second season adding it to the list of fallen shows like Firefly and Freaks and Geeks which were cancelled too soon. But you have 22 episode to enjoy and who knows maybe they will bring it back if enough people show interest. I think based on the overall show it earns a rating of 7.5/10.

 

First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org

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