This review contains spoilers.
1.9 Death’s Door
This may have been the most Star Wars-style episode of The Tomorrow People yet, and I’m not talking its clumsy dialogue or poor grasp of character relationships and legitimate human emotions. I’m talking powers. You’ve got a bunch of people who can teleport, read minds, and use telekinesis, and it was only a matter of time before they got a little too close to the sacred sci-fi trilogy that defined a nation’s idea of just what magic powers could be.
Spare me the arguments that The Tomorrow People predates Star Wars, what happened this week was pure George Lucas. Specifically, the mysterious Founder’s use of his advanced Tomorrow People powers against John. He force-choked him from across the room, then uses the Force to open his straps so he could come fight. He uses the Force to stop John’s punch like stopping Han’s blaster bolts, then he Force-chokes John again, this time gripping him by the throat, just like Vader did to Admiral Motti on the first Death Star when Motti mocked his Jedi faith, except this time the choking victim ends up being raised into the air as well. The show even plays it like Star Wars, though much less subtle; rather than having a simple background noises to indicate the choking, the show goes for obnoxious and ominous music. The Founder even makes Vader’s choke gesture when he does it!
To compound things, when Cara and Russell go to kidnap Morgan, the otherwise innocent Tomorrow Person who is dating the evil Jed, there are more Star Wars references. Specifically, when fighting with Cara, Morgan does an awesome Vader-style move where she throws a giant log at Cara’s head. Still, aside from the Star Wars references, it was just another fairly standard Tomorrow People fight: not that interesting despite the novelty of two women fighting.
Speaking of wooden stereotypes from Episodes I through III, I noticed something in particular this episode. Whenever someone is on camera, they seem to be doing something. However, whenever, say… Stephen bursts into the room to tell the three other main Tomorrow People characters about the fact that his dad’s in Limbo because he’s not really alive or dead (making him an Obi-wan ghost or Schrodinger’s Cat), it seems like he just entered a stage after an intermission. Russell, Cara, and John were literally sitting and waiting for Stephen to show up, as if they have no life of their own when he’s not around, or like they immediately check out of the world when they’re not supposed to be on camera. The general desertedness of the Tomorrow Lair this week only enhances that feeling of staged falseness, as if they’re all waiting for Godot. Or, I guess, Waiting for Stephen.
I’m not sure what to blame this obvious flaw on. The Star Wars cribbing probably comes from director Leslie Libman, but as an homage it’s not bad—despite reminding me of a much better teenage entertainment tradition. The episode’s other references, like Stephen’s Flatliners plan to enter limbo via controlled death and the Pulp Fiction-style epinephrine wake-up shot are a bit better, if not subtle; after all, I’m not sure too many people remember Flatliners in the target demographic. Aside from the homages, the show was competent. Nothing spectacular or terribly interesting.
However, The Tomorrow People was slightly funnier than normal, due to the script from writer Pam Veasey. Veasey cut her teeth on classic comedy like the famous In Living Color, and it shows in the fact that Astrid is both the smart one and the funny one this week, cracking a few jokes during the Tomorrow People/best friend meet and greet. The plan Jed and Stephen have worked out to help John escape, and Stephen’s conveniently true excuse (truthcuse?) about why he let Cara escape with her powers works, and the scenes are pretty well executed by the standard of the show.
Barring that, it wasn’t a terribly interesting episode, and even the stuff that was done well was predictable. Stephen and his mother argue about his father, Stephen is right yet again for his crazy theories, Stephen can’t die because he’s the chosen one, the confrontations between Jed and the Founder are predictable, as is Stephen’s use of his uncle’s weakness against him to save John. So on and so forth. The amount of cliched action series stuff is practically overwhelming at this point, and it’s not getting any better.
I’m sure The Tomorrow People will be back for a second season, as it’s practically impossible for a CW show to be cancelled unless it’s an active dumpster fire. However, given its status as one of the weaker shows in the CW line-up ratings-wise among the all important 18-34 demographic, this may be it for the American remake of the British classic.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Thanatos, here.
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