Technically, The Tomorrow People, which premieres tonight on The CW Network, is based on a British children’s TV show that premiered back in the ‘70s. In a larger sense, however, its focus on a group of extraordinary young people whose “other-ness” makes them misfits to the wider society is very much in the same creative vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and the X-Men movies, among many others.
The main character is teenager Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell), who led a fairly normal life with his mother (Sarah Clarke, 24) and kid brother until about a year ago, when suddenly Stephen began hearing voices in his head. Far more troubling, he began teleporting in his sleep, so although he went to bed in his own home, he never knew where he might wake up (such as in bed with a neighbor couple, which is starting to wear thin with them).
Trembling on the brink of what he thinks is a nervous breakdown, Stephen finally decides to listen to one of the “imaginary voices,” which leads him to John and Cara (Luke Mitchell, Peyton List), the de facto leaders of a group known as the Tomorrow People. John and Cara, along with Russell (Aaron Yoo), the group’s trainer, explain to Stephen that they are a genetically advanced race of beings with the ability to teleport, communicate telepathically and move objects via telekinesis – and Stephen’s father, long missing and presumed dead, was once a member of their group.
The Tomorrow People – you’d think this group would have a catchier handle for themselves by now – are being stalked, rounded up and “neutralized” by Ultra, a shadowy paramilitary group of scientists led by Dr. Jedekiah Price (the always exceptional Mark Pellegrino, who played Lucifer on Supernatural). To reveal more about tonight’s pilot would spoil a couple of very satisfying twists that come toward the end of the first episode.
Amell — the cousin of Stephen Amell, whose Arrow series is this new show’s lead-in — is a very likable lead and Pellegrino, who excels at playing ambiguity, succeeds in keeping us guessing about Dr. Price’s motives, but it may be the charismatic Mitchell and List who connect most directly with fans, at least right off the bat.
The real superhero of The Tomorrow People, however, isn’t even on camera. That’s executive producer Greg Berlanti, whose extraordinary track record for creating genre-busting, emotionally resonant drama series includes shows as diverse as Arrow, Brothers & Sisters and Everwood. I suspect he’s the reason Tomorrow People manages to hook us right from the get-go and get us invested in these unconventional characters. With him at the helm, the future for The Tomorrow People looks bright.