Continuing with their yearly tradition at Comic-Con’s preview night, Warner Bros. unveiled four new pilots from their 2013 Fall lineup: The Tomorrow People, Almost Human, The 100, and an encore screening of The Originals. This year’s pilots carried an overall running theme of a futuristic world. From humans with superpowers, human-like androids, a post-apocalyptic Earth, and vampires, the preview pilots managed to appeal to a wide range of viewers while still staying within a central genre. Overall, I was pretty impressed by some of the shows, especially those I went in having low expectations. Hit the jump for more on each pilot.
The Tomorrow People
Sticking to the ever-popular superhero genre, The Tomorrow People centers around a race of humans who represent the next step in human evolution. Based on the U.K. series by the same name and executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Arrow) and Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries), the series focuses primarily on the character of Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) as he discovers he’s part of an underground community of young people who possess paranormal powers. Known as homosuperiors, the group all have the ability to communicate telepathically, teleport, and move objects via telekinesis — what they refer to as the “three T’s.” And to not spoil the fun, let’s just say that Amell’s character — being the lead — is actually somewhat of a special snowflake. You’ll have to watch the pilot in the fall to find out what that means exactly, but it lends itself for further exploration of the character and an array of great storytelling.
The Good: The CW has a reputations for casting some of the most beautiful people in their series, while sometimes they lack in the acting department, The Tomorrow People actually seems to have gotten it right. Robbie Amell does an excellent job at portraying (who he believes is) a medically unstable high school student in a journey of self-discovery that leads him to learn more about himself and his family’s past. In true CW fashion, there are quite a few scenes featuring a shirtless Amell in compromising positions that give the show just the right dose of humor. Rounding up the cast, Peyton List (Mad Men) and newcomer Luke Mitchell (H2O: Just Add Water) are the perfect side-kicks and mentors for Amell’s character, and Mark Pellegrino (Supernatural) is brilliant in the nemesis role. I would watch the series just based on his performance alone. It’s also worth noting that there’s a nice little twist towards the end that really catapults the plot.
The Bad: Not necessarily bad, per se, but knowing executive producer Julie Plec’s fondness for love triangles, I can’t help thinking that at some point the series will take a turn for the romantic. Not that romance is bad, I’m just afraid that the momentum and action that has been built up in the pilot will be opaqued by intertwined love stories. On the bright side, there was no sign of that in the pilot, so perhaps I’m getting too ahead of myself.
Final Thoughts: The series is a must-watch for those fans who love the superhero genre and who were fans of shows like Heroes. It’s action-packed, thrilling, but also has lighter moments that will make you laugh. It was very well received by the audience and I definitely saw enough to want to give it a shot in the fall.
If you’re still sad over the fact that Fringe ended six months ago to the date, then executive producers J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman’s new series, Almost Human, could possibly fill that licorice-shaped void in your heart. While the series doesn’t deal with cases of unexplained phenomena, it does dip into some of the elements that made Fringe a cult hit. The series takes place in a future world — very evocative of Blade Runner in scope — where crime has increased exponentially and law enforcement officers are required to partner up with human-like androids in order to maintain safety and peace. While the pilot focused on a case dealing with a group of terrorists, it’s obvious that the main storyline is the growing friendship between Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) and his synthetic partner, Dorian (Michael Ealy).
The Good: The pilot had such a great pace that I couldn’t believe it was over when it ended. It felt like it went by faster than any of the other pilots screened tonight. The opening scene hooks you right away and doesn’t let you go. I found myself engrossed in the story without experiencing any loss of interest. There is also something that happens in the pilot that will make you think of Fringe and it’s pretty fantastic. I have to say, however, that the best thing about the show is the dynamic between Ealy and Urban. I love a good bromance, and these two had me cheering for more. The way the characters played off each other was perfectly executed.
The Bad: If the pilot truly reflected the nature of the series, then it will be an excellent one. The only bad thing about it was that there wasn’t more episodes for me to watch.
Final Thoughts: Abrams and Wyman are geniuses when it comes to playing with futuristic elements. They have another series in their hands that could potentially be a big hit, especially with talent like Urban, Ealy, and Lili Taylor. The characters are relatable enough — even the synthetic Dorian — for me to want to invest my time in them on a weekly basis. I really hope viewers give it a chance and it doesn’t turn into another Fringe because that would make me sad.
I watched this series having pretty low expectations — mainly because the trailer made it look like a really bad SyFy movie. But it was one of the pilots that genuinely surprised me and kept me thoroughly entertained. The 100takes place — you guessed it — in the future, 97 years after the population of Earth was annihilated by a nuclear disaster. The sole survivors reside in space, in a station known as The Ark. In an effort to test whether the Earth is ready to be repopulated again, one hundred young criminals are sent back to see if conditions on the planet are habitable. Because, who better to repopulate the planet than juvenile delinquents? The main crew, comprised ofIsaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), Henry Ian Cusick (LOST), Kelly Hu (Arrow), and Paige Turco (Person of Interest), stay aboard to keep track of the newly released convicts. A bunch of good-looking criminals are set free on an uninhabited Earth, what could possibly go wrong?
The Good: The series has a strong female lead in the form of Australian actress Eliza Taylor who portrays the character of Clarke Walters. She’s tough and has the characteristics of a fierce leader without relying on others to come to her rescue. It’s nice to see a female lead who isn’t a damsel in distress. The situation on Earth quickly turns a bit like Lord of the Flies, having a group of young men and women disrupt the serenity and natural surroundings of the planet. This ups the ante when it comes to rivalries and clashing cliques. And without giving too much away, let’s just say that radiation’s made Earth more dangerous than it was before.
The Bad: Some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional, making them almost forgettable. There are one hundred survivors on Earth, so would it be a spoiler to say that most of them probably won’t survive the dangers lurking about? The pilot made sure to put an emphasis on the important characters of the series, but it still wasn’t enough for me to be interested in them completely.
Final Thoughts: Overall, The 100 is a series that has potential, if only they decide to make the characters more interesting and relatable. The pilot is good fun, borderline on campy and it’s entertaining nonetheless. The characters — mainly the juvenile convicts — need some work but the storyline is there and it’s intriguing enough for me to want to see more.
Having already seen the backdoor pilot for The Originals when it aired as part of The Vampire Diaries back in April, I was mainly interested in the never-before-seen-footage that accompanied this encore screening. For those who aren’t Vampire Diaries viewers, The Originals follows the character of Klaus (Joseph Morgan), a vampire/werewolf hybrid, as he plans to regain control of the city that was once his, New Orleans. But he soon finds out that his former protégé, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), won’t easily give up the throne. Klaus’ brother, Elijah (Daniel Gillies), is determined to help him obtain redemption and finds the perfect way to achieve that in the form of a werewolf named Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), who has come to the city to search for information about her family’s past. The backdoor pilot had a revelation that threw many Vampire Diaries fans for a loop, but perhaps the unseen footage is a bit more telling on the direction of the series.
The Good: Klaus is known for being impulsive and merciless, so I loved seeing those aspects of his character come to the surface when it came to defending what he believes is his. The character of Marcel is also intriguing and I’m looking forward to seeing more of his dynamic with Klaus when the show premieres — I think they can be the ideal definition of frenemies. While the witches were portrayed as being subdued by Marcel’s power, there is an impending revolution brewing and it’s sure to bring some excitement to an otherwise anticlimactic premise.
The Bad: I’m still having a bit of trouble accepting “nature’s loophole” when it comes to the baby. I understand that it’s a way to bring back some of Klaus’s humanity and perhaps even his redemption but I feel like the show could have found other ways to bring that about. While the baby plot is a bit outlandish, I think it can be resolved by not making the series revolve around it. However, I think it might be a little too late for that. Acting-wise, I found Tonkin’s Hayley a bit bland and far from likable. Maybe it’s just Tonkin’s natural ability but she seemed to play with her seductive side a little too excessively in moments where it was unnecessary.
New Footage: For fans who watched the backdoor pilot, the encore included new footage that wasn’t shown the first time around. Read on if you don’t mind being spoiled. After Klaus agrees to let the baby and Hayley live, Elijah returns to pick up “the girl,” as he calls her, and take her with him. It’s obvious that he’s extremely invested in her and the baby’s safety. He even takes off his jacket and offers it to her to keep her warm. There’s a small hint of perhaps future romance for the two. He makes it clear that if anything happens to her, the witches will have to deal with him. In the following scene, Klaus, Marcel and his vampires are seen celebrating in the streets of New Orleans. They seem to be partaking in some sort of parade, while Klaus knows that it’s all part of a plan to take back what’s rightfully his. Sadly, for Klaus/Caroline fans, that sweet voicemail message that he left her in the backdoor pilot was replaced by this scene. The episode ends with a young witch named Davina, which just so happens to be Marcel’s secret weapon to keeping the witches in check. She’s able to sense when magic is being used and based on her actions, her own magic seems to be very powerful.
Final Thoughts: The series could reach its desired potential if they tread the baby waters carefully. New viewers might not have a problem adjusting to the storyline but Vampire Diaries fans seem to be divided when it comes to this. I think that maybe the writers should consider making a few changes and try to reign them back in before it’s too late.