The CW’s newest sci-fi series “The Tomorrow People” premieres Wednesday night at 9/8c.
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“The Tomorrow People” tells the story of a group of teenagers who represent the next stage in human evolution.
They must balance their newly discovered superpowers and all of the complications that come with them, with their ordinary high school lives. It’s a new spin on the supernatural-as-metaphor-for-teen-angst genre.
Here are five things you need to know about “The Tomorrow People”:
1) It’s A Remake of an Obscure British Show from the 1970s
Plec and Berlanti have been friends since college where they bonded over their childhood love of an obscure British television show that aired in the United States on the then-fledgling Nickelodeon channel.
It was the original version of “The Tomorrow People.” For years they dreamed of updating the premise for contemporary audiences.
Said Berlanti, “Julie and I have been talking about this show since we were in college, so that’s over 20 years ago. We were both fans of the original series when we were kids. This was before it existed on VHS tapes or the Internet. It played in reruns on Nickelodeon early in the morning. And it was sort of pre‑binge watching, but I would still get up every morning and, like, watch these episodes of the series and it really spoke to me then as a young kid.”
They realized that what seemed cutting edge in the pre-computer era would not work today. “We would like to be true to the spirit of the show. We have [the same] character names and things like that, but our hope is that we kind of evolve and it’s its own thing. ”
2) The Star of the Show is the Cousin of the Actor Who Plays the Title Role in “Arrow”
The main character, Stephen, a high school student who is plagued by nightmares and whose powers have been misdiagnosed as mental problems, is played by Robbie Amell, the cousin of “Arrow” star Stephen Amell.
The CW does not have the entire family under contract; it was just a happy coincidence. Amell explains, “I had worked with Greg on “Brothers & Sisters” a long time ago, and Greg helped me get my green card. I went in and I had a few auditions for [supporting character] John originally. [Producer] Peter Roth saw my tapes for my screen test for Warner Bros. He said, ‘I like him for John, but I’d really like to see him for Stephen’.”
3) Think of “The Tomorrow People” as the Conformist “X-Men”
The Tomorrow People have no idea they are different from anybody else until their powers start manifesting in adolescence. Unlike the mutant teens of “The X Men,” all Tomorrow People have the same powers, known as “the three Ts”: Telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation.
They are a new species known as homo superior. They have a cool underground clubhouse in a subway station. Stephen’s fellow Tomorrow People include leader/rival John (Luke Mitchell), comedic sidekick Russell (Aaron Yoo) and potential love interest Cara (Peyton List).
They also have a group of enemies known as the Ultra who are hellbent on destroying them because they represent a threat to the status quo. They are led by Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino) whose reasons for fearing the Tomorrow People are fairly rational. Says Pellegrino, “I’m protecting the human race, so as far as I’m concerned, you know, you got to do dirty things sometimes to protect 4, 5, 6 billion people.”
4) Yes, There’s a Love Triangle
All CW series have a strong romantic elements. “The Tomorrow People” is no exception. A complicated love triangle will develop between Stephen, Cara and John.
Mitchell reveals, “It makes it a lot of fun to play because potentially [Stephen] could be the key to either finding his father or being a savior himself for the Tomorrow People. So it does make it challenging in John Young’s dealings with him and also, keeping the ego aside, when ‑‑ knowing that your romantic interest also has a telepathic link to him.”
5) The Special Effects Are Impressive
The original version of “The Tomorrow People” was known for its cheap special effects that were bad even by the standards of 1970s British television.
Fortunately, the new version delivers visuals worthy of a feature film. Says executive producer Phil Klemmer, “I think we really did get lucky with the discreet powers that we imparted to our characters … Teleporting is the oldest cinematic special effect. Like — if you watch [the 1965 Beatles movie] “Help!” — you stop the camera, people move, [then] you restart the camera. But if you take something as simple as that and you mix it with computer‑generated effects, it’s incredible how sophisticated it looks. To me it does look like summer blockbuster quality that you can do week to week.”