Should you be watching this reboot of the BBC series of teens who can teleport and uses telepathy and telekinesis? Let me tell you why I’m dropping The Tomorrow People from my DVR.
A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend who was getting caught up on his DVR. His tweet which prompted the conversation: “I watched 3 episodes of Almost Human and 2 of the Tomorrow People today and I think I hate sci fi now.” We chatted about the show’s internal logic (or lack thereof), the excessive use of flashback (though he approved of Russell’s backstory episode), and the lack of consistency in character development. All of these flaws would be fine if the characters had more going for them than “teh pretty” or if they took a page out of the Ryan Murphy off-the-wall playbook and just went full on INSANE, but the show prefers to take itself way too seriously.
These flaws are most evident in the flashback episodes, which comprise half the series and compromise the entire series. Origin stories are now required for every superhero introduced in pop culture, which…fine, but the character featured needs to be more than one-dimensional. It doesn’t help that the three supporting characters—Cara, John and Russell—all have the same basic story revolving around daddy issues. Wouldn’t it have been more fun if Russell was the child in a traveling act going from town to town, swindling the locals until Ultra busted their scheme?
If poor character development doesn’t have you saying “who cares,” the lack of internal consistency should push you over the edge. Look, world-building is tough. There’s a reason why one-third of Inception goes into the rules and regulations of how the dream world works. I’m not expecting this show to achieve that level of detail, but maybe if the rules they have established continued to work week-to-week? I think series structure may also be to blame here. There are two stories happening which alternate week-to-week: Stephen and the others trying to pass as normal and the TPs vs. Ultra. Since these stories (and likely, the writers) are not in conversation with each other, proper world-building has not happened. The TPs are incapable of killing and they are one mutation away from overcoming that barrier, which is why Ultra needs to exterminate them. HOWEVER, Ultra has developed chemical technology to overcome that barrier, which means that Ultra agents, including former agent John, are able to kill.
Then there’s (Pain in the) Astrid. From the beginning she was presented as Stephen’s best friend, though all evidence suggested she hated our hero as much as everyone else at his school. When she discovers he has powers, she plans to expose him until he teleports her and they become superbesties? Then she tells him to use his powers for fun and immediately turns around and lectures him for letting his powers go to his head. Astrid is the Ellis of this series and I just can’t anymore.
The most recent episode, “Thanatos,” tried to tie all of these loose ends together, but failed horribly. The moment that caused me to say “we’re done here,” was when Jedikiah’s boss the Aussie plugged himself into the machine that is totally not infringing on The Matrix. The Aussie was trying to track down his staffer, who was being held captive in TPHQ. Progress was shown as though the Aussie were navigating a level from Doom, playing telepathic Marco Polo which makes NO SENSE.
Wednesday is the mid-season finale, which I may watch because I am a bitter-ender. But writing about a show where no one is having fun on-screen or behind the scenes is just not gonna happen.
Should you be watching The Tomorrow People? I would say no.
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