At First Glance: No Nonsense Reviews of the CW’s New Fall Dramas
The CW are offering an intriguing mix of genres in their Fall lineup this year. From super heroes to scifi and just about everything in between, the Network is casting a broad net. But will your attention be caught by what’s on offer?
We’ve condensed our thoughts on three of the new pilot episodes we’ve seen so far into no waffle reviews (which we’ve kept largely spoiler free) for your consideration. In general terms, while we were impressed by the direction the CW has chosen to take this year (out with the supernatural-saturated schedule and in with scifi, period dramas and super heroes) we did strongly feel that in almost all cases there was a disparity between the the storyline and the execution of said storyline. For example:
THE TOMORROW PEOPLE
This is one of the strongest contenders of the bunch and a classic example of the disconnect we’ve spoken about above. While you may be forgiven for thinking the once endless vein of ‘young attractive people suddenly develop super powers’ was finally tapped out with the final and largely dreadful season of Heroes, The Tomorrow People manages to bring something fresh to the premise.
The CW’s take on the medium is not going to spark the same worldwide fanaticism as Heroes, but the young cast headed up by Robbie Amell (whose cousin Stephen is currently not failing this city in the CW’s Arrow) Luke Mitchell, Peyton List and Aaron Yoo do an admirable job nonetheless. It’s also got the charismatic Mark Pellegrino as Big Bad Dr. Jedikiah Price, who heads up a secret and determined organization called Ultra, dedicated to eradicating all next-gen humans who have developed startling new abilities including teleportation, telepathy and levitation. The pilot was pacy. The cast were attractive. There were moments that made us laugh, the visuals (particularly those surrounding super-human abilities) were exciting and Pellegrino lent weight to a role that fits him. The Tomorrow People probably won’t rock your world but it may rock your DVR Wednesday’s 9-10 pm this Fall.
We wanted to like Reign if only because it represents something very new from the CW – and largely it did not disappoint. If you’ve been following our coverage of the show to date then you’ll know it centers on the young Mary Stuart, who we are informed, has been Queen of Scotland since she was six years old. The pilot episode sees a forlorn Mary being shipped (literally) off to France where an engagement to Prince Phillip awaits. But just about everyone in the French court sees Mary as an asset to be leveraged or an obstacle to be overcome, including the scheming Queen Catherine, who consults Nostradamus (yes, that Nostradamus) for inklings about the future of France if Mary should one day ascend the throne.
While the show is being touted by some as the next Tudors, we’re going to go out on a limb and call it Tudors-Lite. There isn’t nearly as much political wrangling as there ought to be, with the show strongly leaning towards romance and mystery angle over historical accuracy. Nostradamus’ predictions, visions and prophesies also lend a vaguely supernatural vibe. However this in no way works against Reign. The sets are magnificent, the young cast, and in particular Adelaide Kaneas, is capable and there’s enough Tudors-lite intrigue and romance to keep the show on air for years to come, provided it finds its audience on Thursday night following The Vampire Diaries.
The series stars Teen Wolf’s Adelaide Kaneas Mary, Toby Regbo as Prince Francis, Torrance Coombs ( who was incidentally in The Tudors) as Bash, Megan Follows as Queen Catherine, Alan Van Sprang ( another Tudors alum) as King Henry.
THE 100 (Midseason)
Again there’s a disconnect between what The 100 should be, and what it ultimately is. The scifi premise is actually pretty solid to begin with. But what might hook a potential scifi-loving audience is what might also disinterest them later on as the pilot takes on an almost slasher-movie tone in places (silly people who strip off or engage in sexual activities get horribly nobbled.) Years ago, we are told, a nuclear war devastated Earth, killing (supposedly) all of our population. Only a handful of humans remain alive, living in orbit in a series of 12 space stations knocked together and known as the Ark. Conditions are rough. Overcrowding is a huge issue and the penalties for crimes (however menial) are pretty severe. To solve the overcrowding problem, a group of 100 young ne’er do wells are sent to the surface to investigate whether it might be possible to survive down there. Their goal is simply to survive while the overlords up above monitor their life-signs by means of a special bracelet each convict must wear. However once planet side, the group, reveling in their new found freedom, begin to wonder if perhaps they should fake their deaths (by destroying their bracelets) and go on living the high life on this new Eden. Of course, things begin to take a turn for the worse (both for the group and the storyline) when bickering and some bad dialog break out and silly people who do silly things get killed by the local wildlife.
The 100 has a solid premise and a fine lead in newcomer Eliza Taylor. (Person of Interest’s Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell, Eli Goree, Marie Avgeropoulos and Bob Morley also star.) However the pilot is shaky in places and brings out the more than occasional urge to throw things at the TV. We’re reserving final judgement on this one until we see a few more episodes, as we know from experience that a show can go on to greatness even with a terrible pilot and a freaky two-headed deer.