December 12, 2013

THE SKED Fall Finale Review: “The Tomorrow People”


Today’s CW announcement that in March, THE TOMORROW PEOPLE will move to Monday nights, swapping the hit Arrow for the untested Star-Crossed as its lead in, probably starts the clock ticking on the show’s remaining time to prove itself.  The series has made a few steps to improve since its underwhelming pilot, but it’s still very much a second-tier CW series.

Last night’s fall finale (it returns to the air–still for the moment on Wednesdays–January 15), written by Consulting Producer Pam Veasey and Executive Story Editor Leigh Dana Jackson (from a story by co-creators Greg Berlanti and Phil Klemmer), and directed by Leslie Libman, mostly furthered an important but increasingly silly part of the show’s mythology:  the Thanatos Project.   It turns out that hero Stephen Jameson’s (Robbie Amell) missing father Jack (Jeffrey Pierce), having been blown up and then shot by fellow Tomorrow Person John Young (Luke Mitchell) at the orders of Ultra honcho Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino)–who happens to be Jack’s brother and Stephen’s uncle–isn’t dead or in hiding, exactly.  Rather, he stopped time at the instant of his death, and now resides in a “Limbo” of questionable dimension (the lighting is all wavy there), from which Stephen is now determined to rescue him.  In order to find Jack there, of course, Stephen had to have himself all-but-killed too, at the hands again of John, this time joined by ambiguous romantic interest Cara Coburn (Peyton List), who’s in love with John but Stephen’s true soulmate or something like that.

This Thanatos/Limbo storyline, even in the context of a superhero comic book-y adventure series, is pushing it, and the fact that it looks to be the main thread for the season’s back half may not be good news.  Stephen just isn’t a very interesting “chosen one,” and his father the Messiah might be worse.  Tomorrow People has been on stronger ground with its less heroic characters, most notably Jedikiah, who’s been made steadily less villainous, with a genuine (however perverse) bond to surrogate son John, whom he was able to “gift” with the ability to kill, and more recently with a Tomorrow Person love interest of his own, whose death he faked in the episode to protect her.  Jedikiah has become so human, in fact, that the show had to introduce a new Big Bad, currently known just as The Founder (Simon Merrells), who for some reason is persecuting the Tomorrow People even though he’s one himself.  (It didn’t exactly make sense that Jedikiah would be able to so easily fool the all-powerful Founder’s mind-reading abilities with his fake memories of “killing” his girlfriend, but whatever.)  John has also become more interesting since his ability to kill and his strain of ruthlessness were revealed.

Stephen is still a dull lead, although the show has wisely minimized his homelife with mom and little brother, as well as his high school days–leaving BFF Astrid (Madeleine Mantock) somewhat adrift as a character.  Cara, as played by List, is a striking presence, albeit remarkably stylish for someone who mostly hides in an abandoned subway station, but she needs more to play than being torn between the two hunks in her life.  There was a one-episode attempt to make fellow Tomorrow Person Russell (Aaron Yoo) into more than pale comedy relief, but it didn’t take.  The series also isn’t helped by what appears to be a fearsomely low budget, or else an inability to use it well, as everything except the teleportation effects (which must be cheap, since they’re repeated endlessly) looks shoddy.

Unless CW’s midseason series bomb badly and the network’s development strikes out, the odds are against The Tomorrow People having enough time to fix itself.  Although the show isn’t a complete failure, enough is wrong with it that there won’t be much sense of loss if it teleports away.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."