Okay, so here’s the thing. Much like executive producers Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec, I was in love with the original “Tomorrow People” series back in the ’80s when Nickelodeon aired reruns. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this to hit TV since the pilot was announced about a year ago.
It’s safe to say that I was predisposed to like this show. Thus, don’t expect a lot of criticism here. Not only is this a solid pilot, “The Tomorrow People” is also a show that pushes all of my happy buttons.
Yes, they could have screwed this up. Berlanti and Plec could have just given us hot superheroes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but “The Tomorrow People” has a little more going on. Fortunately, this is a passion project for its creators. The creators know what they’re doing, and they know why they’re doing it.
An awesome holdover
One of the things that is most impressive about this update of “The Tomorrow People” is that the show’s creators keep one of the original twists of the earlier program: Tomorrow People can’t kill. They just can’t do it. When they try, it doesn’t work.
The twist doesn’t get much investigation in the pilot (although two people experience pain when feeling murderous), but this could be fascinating in the future. After all, how do you solve problems or defeat mortal enemies if you can’t kill?
Death is usually such an easy option on TV that it’s nice to see it taken off the table at least some of the time.
Oh right, the plot
Sorry. Enough gushing for the moment about adaptations and updates done right. You probably want at least a brief description of what happens in the pilot episode of “The Tomorrow People.”
The show begins with John (Luke Mitchell) running through a building at night. He is in pursuit of a file, but others object to this. Unfortunately for them, John is a Tomorrow Person and is really good at teleporting out of dangerous situations like certain capture or getting punched in the face.
Oddly, some of those chasing him seem pretty good at this whole teleporting thing too.
We soon find out what John and the Tomorrow People were after: a medical file. It belongs to a young man named Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell). Stephen might have been concerned about this invasion of his privacy, except he has other problems. Namely, Stephen keeps waking up in his neighbors’ bed. He’s also hearing voices.
It’s all very stressful, even when the main voice is that of a soothing woman named Cara (Peyton List).
Initially, this is all explained away as some form of psychosis, but Stephen soon learns that he is instead “breaking out.” In the “Tomorrow People” world, this means some sort of spontaneous evolution (think “X-Men” for a more known example) into a new species of semi-humans. They’re the Tomorrow People, and they’re hip enough to know that the name is dumb.
Whatever. They can be dorky. When you’re beautiful and can move things with your mind, who cares if a term is hokey? Also, the group hides in an abandoned subway station, which is seriously hardcore. Somehow or other, this is also a subway station with a super-computer named Tim. Tim has the same voice as Matthew Crawley of “Downton Abbey” (because Dan Stevens is the actor responsible for both) and knows a lot.
Stephen soon learns that it’s not just voices in his head that he has to worry about — a shadowy organization named ULTRA, with a leader named Dr. Jedekiah Price, wants to capture and do unsavory things to all Tomorrow People.
Jedekiah himself (Mark Pellegrino) illustrates this by daring one of the Tomorrow People in ULTRA’s employ to kill him. The agent, oddly, can’t do it. This makes Jedekiah very happy, so happy that he ends the agent’s life.
Jedekiah has an odd sense of fun.
Alas for Stephen, Jedekiah wants to let the kid in on the fun. ULTRA captures Stephen and agents drag him off to a very shiny lab for interrogation and probable torture. There may also be some implied gene therapy — in the hopes of making Stephen human again — but that’s left vague. The important thing is that Stephen can’t teleport out because ULTRA has super-fancy walls that don’t allow for such shenanigans.
Realizing that Stephen has been taken, the others — led by Cara and the impetuous Russell (Aaron Yoo) — head out on a possible suicide mission to save their new friend. It starts off very “Matrix”-like, which is cool too.
Meanwhile, Stephen refuses to face the reality that he can’t get out of his shackles. He instead gives incredible “constipated” face and miraculously teleports to freedom. He really shouldn’t be able to do that.
All of the Tomorrow People meet up in the hallway, but Jedekiah and his men are there to stop them with bullets and stuff. Thank goodness that Stephen — unbeknownst to anyone — is also crazy good at stopping time. It’s not for long, but teleporting doesn’t take that long anyway.
Back in the subway base, Tim has a message for Stephen from the boy’s long-lost father. It turns out that Stephen’s dad was also a Tomorrow Person, a powerful leader who went missing years before. All of this stuff runs in the family, as genetic things are wont to do.
Or not. Stephen returns home to deal with his confusion and angst. Only he doesn’t really get to do that, because there’s a surprise visitor in the living room — Uncle Jedekiah Price. And you think your family is weird …
Family dynamics aside, Jedekiah offers Stephen a job at ULTRA and a chance to live at home and protect his mother and brother from harm. It’s not exactly an offer Stephen can refuse, so he goes for it.
Too bad Stephen also keeps some allegiance to the subway-residing Tomorrow People as well. Conflict, woo!
This is going to be fun.
“The Tomorrow People” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.