Though based largely on the low budget mid-'70s British teen series of the same name, The Tomorrow People is very much a standard CW show. It features a roster of superhuman models with inflated, unrealistic problems, grappling with twee interpersonal struggles while trying to save the world, having a tone more aligned with Supernatural and Arrow than The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle.
But unlike the surprisingly consistent, dark and complex Supernatural, The Tomorrow People has absolutely no sense of humour and a very vaguely constructed reality.
When the pilot opens, Steven Jameson (Robbie Amell) is struggling with his grasp on reality. Popping pills with the understanding that he's demonstrating the same schizophrenic tendencies as his absent father—waking up in the neighbours bed, for example—he spends most of his time keeping his head low and trying to appear as normal as possible.
His mother (Sarah Clarke) vacillates between frustration and concern, just like his best friend and potential love interest Astrid (Madeleine Mantock), who acts as a sounding board for his gradual mental deterioration.
When Steven is introduced to the titular "tomorrow people," their universe is already constructed and in crisis. He's contacted psychically by the comely Cara (Peyton List) and brought into an underground lair where other sexy teens with varying powers stand around dramatically and dole out dry exposition about nefarious, mostly undefined, antagonists. Steven's character trajectory stems from his belief in these people: is he really a superhuman or just a crazy teenager?
He's given very little time to wrestle with this inner-crisis before he's kidnapped by Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino), who, as an evil CEO surrounded by interchangeable henchmen, is introduced as a single-minded villain, killing one of the gifted elite while mocking their inability to murder (they get intense headaches—sort of like Spike in Buffy--when they try).
A couple of battles pop up throughout the pilot, featuring Street Fighter 2 power surges being thrown back and forth in large cavernous rooms. These do little to define much of the action or style to anticipate in the series, just as the very broad and uninspired manner in which each character is drawn doesn't give us much to invest in.
In theory, the inherent conflict of mental illness as an inner-manifestation of ego projection could prove fascinating if handled sensitively and with a bit of creativity. But The Tomorrow People doesn't demonstrate any degree of interest in complex storylines or contradictory, evolving characters. Everyone is merely their actions and these actions dictate a very standard, traditionalist plot progression.
The Tomorrow People premieres on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 at 7pm on CTV. (Warner)