[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]
Show:“The Tomorrow People” (The CW)
Airs:Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:You know “Heroes,” “Alphas,” “Misfits,” “Chuck,” “Chloe King,” “Reaper,” “Jake 2.0,” or any of the dozens of TV shows and movies in recent years about ordinary people who suddenly discover they have (or are given) extraordinary abilities? Has The CW ever had one? Well, other than “Reaper.” Bingo! Now, with an Amell! [The original British series isn’t on my radar, unfortunately.]
Quick Response: It’s really hard to settle in and enjoy the pilot for “The Tomorrow People,” because every single solitary beat in the first 30 minutes feels like the latest iteration of a seemingly endless string of superhero origin stories on the big and small screen. The search for any sign of freshness is futile, so you’re left looking for things that are at least well handled or handled with any sort of new twist and even that’s hard, especially since pilot director Danny Cannon may have accidentally taken his shot-list and visual template from “Nikita” to the “Tomorrow People” set. Even the production design for the various lairs looks like various rejected, or possibly accepted, concepts for Division. And then, when you’re looking for something that doesn’t feel like straight-up cloning, you’re given a leading man who literally comes from a common genetic pool with “Arrow” star Stephen Amell. And it isn’t that Robbie Amell is bad, but his similarities to his cousin keep producing moments of frustrating deja vu, especially when the script finds a way to get him out of his shirt multiple times in the first five minutes. Like I said, Robbie Amell isn’t a bad actor, but he’s ridiculous casting in this role, both because he looks much, much, much too old to be pretending he’s a high school student, but also because there’s zero excitement in watching somebody with the muscles of a model or a professional athlete discover he might be strong. Guess what? There’s no way this character looks the way he does without spending a awful lot of time in the gym, so when he discovers he can shoot CGI blur from his fingertips, it’s just another thing he has going for him, not a 180 reverse of his life. It’s predictable CW casting and it undermines the show. They needed to find a Bret Harison or a Zachary Levi or a Chris Gorham or anybody who couldn’t, again literally, fit into a mold established by another CW star. Aaron Yoo, good in a supporting role here, would have been more interesting lead casting, but… Yeah. But there were things I liked in the last 15 minutes. I like that Mark Pellegrino’s character, while obviously intended as the villain, comes across as fairly reasonable and that that character’s rational behavior instigates plausible conflict for the hero and that that plausible conflict may eventually spin the show off in a direction which is still derivative — I’d say which shows the twist is borrowing from, but then you’d feel like you’d seen ever second of “Tomorrow People” previously — but at least feels derivative of different things, rather than every one of the shows I listed in the Pitch. The end of the show gave me hope that “Tomorrow People” could could at least offer the occasional detour from the norm.
Desire To Watch Again: This is a time slot that will only work for me if I will myself to jettison “The X Factor.” I’m curious based on the end of the episode and that curiosity might make me give this one another few episodes. I honestly give nearly everything on The CW at least a handful of episodes unless they’re unwatchable like “Beauty and the Beast.” So this’ll probably get more episodes as well. On a broader level, this isn’t a show that’s going to bring anybody new to The CW.
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘Hostages’
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Trophy Wife’
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries