When the rumors surfaced that an American network was going to do a remake of the classic 70’s children’s TV show “The tomorrow people” the first thing to come to mind was shock, then excitement, and then dread. Now the first few episodes have aired in the UK (Broadcast by E4) and a bunch more state side (Broadcast on the CW), It seemed only fair to sit down and write about and compare the new series with its older progenitor.
The original Tomorrow People was a children’s television program that ran on the ITV from 1973-1979. The Story followed Stephen an ordinary schoolboy who collapses on a London street under the mental strain of “breaking out”. A process where the powers of an evolutionary advanced strain of people (Called the tomorrow people/Homo-superior) start to develop. Existing tomorrow people John, Carol and Kenny help him through this process and then they come up against the mysterious villain of the piece Jedikiah, who serves the even more malevolent and enigmatic Cyclops.
The trailers for the new season looked painfully like One tree hill/The OC with super powers, luckily it’s not as bad as all that. Again the lead character is Stephen older and with his own new rag tag bunch of tomorrow people rallied against Jedikiah. But this new series clearly aimed at the teen/twilight market as opposed to being children’s TV like the original.
During the pilot I wondered why the lead had been cast whose acting rises to only passable in all that I’ve seen of the series so far. But i guess when only five minutes in to the first episode one sees the pretty boy hero shirtless and tied to a bed Its a case of looks over substance. As we’ve started talking about some of the bad i’ll get all of that over with and then we can talk about what is good about the series.
In the pilot their is a painful Darth Vader force choke scene of a school bully by Stephen as he “broke out”. The scene just felt like a giant cliche not helped by serious overacting. Also not a fan of the clumsy love story so far, the obligatory love triangle of the twilight generation is telegraphed from episode one and is horribly predictable. Early on our protagonist, Stephen, who I guess we are supposed to route for makes it hard to do so. The Stupid “I’ve known about all this powers thing for three seconds but i’m gonna start giving dumb orders” is just annoying and typified by a decision join super crazy death squad ultra by pilots end.
Now that were done with the bad, here’s the good, and there’s a lot of it actually which has kept me from dropping the series, thus far. The idea of having the Tomorrow people learning focus for powers through martial arts was very cool. A scene within the pilot of two new recruits going against each other until one accidentally teleports made me sit up and pay attention and ultimately stop from turning over. However while this is a cool premise that is held up throughout the series so far the caliber of martial arts ability in the cast is very mixed.
Aaron Yoo who plays Russel Kwon the more anarchic member of the Tomorrow people is easily a favourite character and stands out both in his performance and in the writing of his character. I also quite liked the female lead Cara Coburn played by Peyton List but my appraisal of her performance may be biased by here being insanely attractive. The jewel in rough is Mark Pellegrino who plays Jedikiah, probably best remembered for his awesome portrayal of Lucifer within Supernatural. Although to date we haven’t seen too much character progression for him. His performance is another reason to give the series chance.
Gone are the flares and dodgy haircuts of the original, a word you could definitely use to describe the new series is “slick”. Done away with, are the much more theatrical sets and costumes, and the low production values that typified the original and other productions of the era like Doctor Who. TIM is back as the Tomorrow people’s fix all A.I. computer and as Russel Kwon puts it “he’s like our Hal but not evil.” Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will see TIM whipping up Steak chips and ginger beer from thin air, but i think that was only important to me anyway.
Personally I find the CGI shimmer when characters are using Telekinesis off putting, and would be better if it didn’t exist at all. But otherwise the three powers of the original Tomorrow People (Telekinesis, Teleportation and Telepathy) come across well. “Breaking out” seemed a much bigger deal in the original series like mental/brain static. Where as in the new series, it seemed they just needed to give Stephen his powers as quickly as possible so as to move on with other parts of the plot. Which I imagine as the series continues will be more complicated and similar to other contemporary shows.
In summary the new Tomorrow People is not the original by any stretch of the imagination, but then that is to be expected. Although there is plenty to grumble about, it also has a lot of potential as well. It’s not a new Heroes and it probably won’t rank in the league of Firefly, but it is definitely worth a watch. It will be interesting to see if the series can hold the attention in the long run and whether they will throw in any references to the original. Talking of which I leave you with a video of the cool seventies opening credits of the original, which sadly do not make a return, so you can bathe in the nostalgia.
All thanks go to TheRageTV on YouTube, for this video.
Check out the original again on DVD from Amazon: The Tomorrow People – The Complete Series [DVD]