If the CW’s “The Tomorrow People” seems to have hints of the kind of quality British TV creators often build into their sci-fi, it may be because the Brits got there first.
Nothing new about that: Yanks love to repurpose British shows, but we don’t always do them justice. Remember the Americanized “Life on Mars?”
Greg Berlanti (“Arrow”) does a good job fulfilling the mandate that every CW show has to be populated with impossibly beautiful young people. At the same time, though, he gives “The Tomorrow People” more actual dramatic substance and even a dash of sophistication, qualities you don’t always associate with CW shows.
Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell, “Revenge”) is a typical high school kid except for two things: Few high school kids are that handsome, and he has a habit of waking up in bed with his married neighbors.
It happens with alarming regularity, so much so that he straps himself into bed each night (but only after removing his shirt and displaying his chiseled torso), sees a shrink and is on meds.
None of it seems to be working, except for whatever he’s doing in the pecs department. He thinks it’s some kind of extreme sleepwalking, but how does he actually get into his neighbors’ locked apartment? On top of that, he’s also been hearing voices: One in particular, and it’s getting louder and more insistent that he’s not crazy and he needs to uncork his powers.
In a flash, Stephen is teleported to an abandoned subway platform far beneath the city where 15 Tomorrow People dwell, including Cara (Peyton List, “Mad Men”), John (Luke Mitchell, “H20: Just Add Water”) and Russell (Aaron Yoo, “Disturbia”).
Stephen is not only a Tomorrow person but the son of one of the group’s greatest heroes, who walked out on his family when Stephen was just a kid.
The Tomorrow People have special powers because they have evolved to become superhuman. Because they are different, they are seen as a threat by some, including Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino, “Lost”), leader of a group of paramilitary Tomorrow-hunters known as Ultra.
Silly as the set-up may seem, it works because of competent writing and convincing performances: The combination prompts us to care about the Tomorrow People beyond the fact that they are being hunted because they are outsiders.
Amell does a good job anchoring the drama, while co-stars Mitchell, List and Yoo prove they’re more than just pretty faces.
Yoo’s Russell Kwon gets some of the better lines, often providing dryly snarky commentary about the whole concept of a bunch of beautiful superhumans living in a subway station.
Amell, by the way, is the cousin of “Arrow’s” Stephen Amell, which means we might see a crossover episode in the future featuring both Amell cousins.
Until that happens, though, “The Tomorrow People” can stand well enough on its own and has a good chance of becoming as popular as “Arrow.”
“Tomorrow People” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on the CW.