Though The Tomorrow People’s titular heroes, genetically mutated humans with the ability to teleport and use telekinesis and telepathy, are supposed to represent the next evolutionary step for mankind, the show feels trapped in the past, a slave to the conventions of the ’70s British series on which it’s based, and to a slew of modern genre clichés. The players all seem to have been thrown together on an assembly line: Stephen (Robbie Amell), the troubled teenager who discovers that he’s actually very special; John (Luke Mitchell), the alpha male with whom Stephen must fight, not just for leadership of the Tomorrow People, but for the heart of Cara (Peyton List), the tough—and exceedingly sexy, naturally—chick with a traumatic past; Russell (Aaron Yoo), the token minority who, even after five episodes, does little more than throw punches and one-liners.
The Tomorrow People is extra ordinary, not extraordinary, right down to Stephen’s history: His apparently deadbeat father is actually a martyr who left the family in order to protect them and lead his fellow Tomorrow People to safety, and his uncle, Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino), is the ruthless head of Ultra, the organization hunting down (or recruiting) the Tomorrow People, ostensibly to make the world safer for powerless humans. Stephen is the proverbial “chosen one,” as, unlike other Tomorrow People, he can freeze time. This isn’t X-Men-lite; it’s Smallville-lite.
Both the characters motivations and the show’s logic are incredibly inconsistent. Cara’s origin episode (“Girl, Interrupted”) reveals that she hates humans because her powers manifested in the middle of an attempted rape, but just two episodes later, she’s encouraging her restless rebel friends to sneak out of their underground lair to party with regular people. And in the span of just a few episodes, Stephen’s on-again-off-again best friend, Astrid (Madeleine Mantock), alternates between happily hanging out with Stephen, angrily ignoring him, and stalking him because she saw him teleport. The series is more interested in hectic plotting than in character development; that’s why Jedikiah is filled with quiet menace, even when he’s sitting down to dinner with Stephen’s mother (Sarah Clarke). It also explains why established facts are readily ignored whenever they prove inconvenient: Although the “prime directive” asserts that the Tomorrow People cannot kill, John’s doing exactly that as early as the fourth episode; and despite Ultra having professional telepaths on staff to detect lies and microchips that block powers, Stephen is inexplicably able to circumvent both.
“We’re not superheroes,” John explains to Stephen. “We’re a hunted species trying to survive.” That’s an interesting premise, so it’s a shame that The Tomorrow People is marred by generic flashbacks, black-and-white characterizations, deus ex machina resolutions, and action sequences that grow repetitive after only a couple of episodes. It turns out that there are only so many ways to telegraph a fight scene in which both opponents can teleport behind one another, or use telekinesis to break holds and pin their rivals against a wall. If good fight choreography can be likened to dancing, then The Tomorrow People is that guy at the party who only has one move.