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The Tomorrow People: Season 1 Review

The CW is a bit of an enigma when it comes to television networks.  There’s no denying that they’re most popular shows are almost exclusively aimed at the young-adult female demographic.  Shows like The Vampire Diaries, Beauty and the Beast, Hart of Dixie and The Carrie Diaries all fit that description.  Yet, over the years they’ve also had some success reaching other audiences as well, shows like Smallville and Supernatural certainly have their moments where they feel like a CW show targeted at the female audience, but they also have subject matter that appeals heavily to male fans.  Even more recently, they’ve targeted males entirely with some of their shows, and have found a great deal of success, the network’s biggest hit currently on the air is Arrow, a dark DC comics adaptation of their Green Arrow character that definitely fits the mold of a show aimed at males.

It’s with that success in mind that it seems they’ve tried to branch out even further with their new slate of shows for the 2013-2014 season, including The Tomorrow People, which happened to debut in the hour-long slot just after Arrow on Wednesday nights.  The comparison’s to Arrow don’t stop there, however.  The Tomorrow People also happens to star Robbie Amell, who is the cousin of Arrow’s star Stephen Amell, and the show attempted a decidedly darker tone than some of the CW’s normal fare.

Stephen protects his friends with hit ability to stop time.

Stephen protects his friends with hit ability to stop time.

Amell plays (ironically, given his cousin’s name) Stephen Jameson, a high school student who, like all high school students just wants a normal life.  That normal life is impossible for him, however, as it is quickly revealed that Stephen has a special gift, of sorts.  Stephen is a part of a new stage in human evolution, one that comes complete with supernatural powers, because Hollywood simply cannot get past the idea that the next natural step in human evolution is to become X-Men and be able to move things with our minds.  It isn’t long before Stephen is contacted by a group of underground paranormal refugees known as The Tomorrow People, and it is learned he has a special connection to one of it’s leaders, Cara (played by Peyton List), a beautiful young woman with a strong telepathic ability.  It’s through them that Stephen learns of the three powers that he has, Telepathy, Teleportation and Telekinesis; or the Three T’s.

Cara, along with her boyfriend, John (Luke Mitchell) and Russell (Aaron Yoo) reveal to Stephen that his family is at the center of a secret war that wages every day between humanity and paranormals.  Stephen’s Uncle, Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino) heads a company called Ultra, who are the big bad in this world, they seek out supernatural teens known as breakouts and either get them to work for Ultra containing this evolutionary threat, or forcibly remover their powers with the help of a brutal serum injection.  It doesn’t stop there, however, as Stephens estranged father Roger is one of the most powerful breakouts ever, and was seen as a leader to the Tomorrow People, attempting to lead them to a safe haven that he called The Refuge. It is now Stephens turn to take over for his father, as his powers and prowess have passed to Stephen, including the rare talent that only the two possess, the ability to stop time.

Seductive fighting between John and Cara tends to be a trend early on.

Seductive fighting between John and Cara tends to be a trend early on.

Tomorrow People plays with a lot of fun sci-fi conventions, the only problem is that none of them are very original.  The chosen one, a big evil corporation, secret wars and humans evolving into X-Men are all things that we’ve seen plenty of times, and it’s not even like this is the first time they’ve been together.  While watching the beginning of the show it’s nearly impossible not to think of 2008’s Jumper, only with the added bonus of telepathic communication and telekinesis.  That doesn’t mean that the show isn’t fun and interesting, it’s just ground that’s been tread a hundred times before.

One of the shows major downfalls is the logic, or lack thereof rather, of the characters.  Even with late-season reveals of grander schemes, the fact that Stephen is tasked by the Tomorrow People to become an Ultra Agent and give them the heads up on any of Ultra’s plans was ok for an early-season plot, but it falls apart when you go nearly 15 episodes without that dynamic changing, and the all-knowing Uncle Jed is seemingly oblivious to the obvious traitor in his ranks is a little hard to swallow.  These inconsistencies only increase when more and more plot twists are layered so thick it’s hard to see the forest through the trees.  As characters weave in and out of alliances at a blistering pace, it’s frustrating to know we end pretty much exactly where we began in terms of loyalties and who’s “bad” or not.

Peyton List's performance as Cara always felt stiff.

Peyton List’s performance as Cara always felt stiff.

Additionally, the acting in The Tomorrow People trends more toward cheesy than it does quality, though there are a few bright spots as well.  Mark Pellegrino has long been a favorite of mine, since his days on ABC’s Lost as the mysterious Jacob, and he turns in another devious performance as Jedikiah; and Luke Mithcell is easily the best of the Tomorrow People as John.  It’s no coincidence, I think, that these two characters end up becoming so inexorably linked to one another as the story progresses, seeing them work together was nice each week.  Simon Merrells is probably the best this show has to offer, as the menacing Founder of Ultra, a super-powered paranormal who is as ruthless as he is cunning, and never thinks twice about his actions.  However, there are plenty of low points with Tomorrow People’s acting as well.  As likable as Robbie Amell appears to be, he stumbles quite a bit through the shows first and only season as Stephen, clumsily conveying emotions and hammering down too hard on much of his dialogue.  Peyton List struggles as Cara as well, though it’s not at all helped by the fact that one of the shows two lead protagonist is turned into an entirely unlikable character midway through the season and by the time the show wraps it’s all too clear that she can’t pull out of this tailspin.

It’s not all bad with Tomorrow People, though.  In spite of all of these problems the show ends up being quite enjoyable for fans of the genre.  The effects are quite good considering the network that it’s on, many of the characters are enjoyable and the action is well choreographed and frequent.  It’s a shame the show won’t be back for a second season, as I think they could have corrected many of the problems that lingered throughout it’s freshmen year and turned it into a show worthy of the networks top lineup.  With just a bit of tweaking and some inventive writing, The Tomorrow People could have turned into a unique show the offers fans plenty new in the genre, even while rehashing old ideas.  Instead, Tomorrow People goes down as a show with a ton of potential that may have been cut too soon before it could reach it due to a few easily correctable issues.

he CW is a bit of an enigma when it comes to television networks.  There's no denying that they're most popular shows are almost exclusively aimed at the young-adult female demographic.  Shows like The Vampire Diaries, Beauty and the Beast, Hart of Dixie and The Carrie Diaries all fit that description.  Yet, over the years they've also had some success reaching other audiences as well, shows like Smallville and Supernatural certainly have their moments where they feel like a CW show targeted at the female audience, but they also have subject matter that appeals heavily to male fans.  Even more…

Review Overview

The Tomorrow People - 7

7

Good

Summary : Tomorrow People is hindered by some conventional storytelling and too many characters you don't like, but remains an enjoyable genre show cut down in it's prime.

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About Josh Barnett

Josh Barnett
Josh is a professional Nintendo apologist and self-loathing Carolina Panthers fan. He does NOT like long walks on the beach, rather he prefers strolls through the snow. You can catch him every week on the Free For All Podcast.