[TV] The Fall Roundup – HIT or MISS? (Part Deux)

It turns out that my list is longer than I thought. Today I add The Tomorrow People, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland and The Walking Dead to my Fall TV Roundup List of Possible Watchables, following on from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow and other various offerings that involve angst and unsparkly vampires, which you can read all about here if you’re into masochism.

Below is my review and breakdown of some of the returning and new shows. If you haven’t yet seen a specific entry and intend to, skip it and read on by, because there will be SPOILERS.

The Tomorrow People

The Tomorrow People

I had heard absolutely nothing about this latest offering from the CW until I happened upon a comment made by Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen of Arrow fame) about a new show his younger cousin, Robbie Amell, was set to star in. Having watched it, I can see the family resemblance.

Originally The Tomorrow People was a British program, aired in the 1970’s and spanning eight seasons. Normally accompanying this news there would be clanging alarm bells in my noodle, but I decided to watch the pilot and withhold judgment until then, as there is a bit of a mutant-esque super-powered super-humans sized hole left in my soul since Heroes ended and Alphas got the chop.

"What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?"

“What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?”

As always with pilots, writers and creators rush to provide you with all of the information you might need in order to effectively grasp the premise of the show and build up a slight rapport with one or more of the characters. This is hard to do within forty-two minutes of average running time, and The Tomorrow People succeeds in this regard more than it fails. The cast seem to be solid, although Amell was a new one for me (despite him having been in the likes of Revenge, it was obviously a forgettable performance/character). Joining him is Peyton List (Mad Men, FlashForward), former Aussie soap star Luke Mitchell (Home and Away, Neighbours) and Mark Pellegrino (Being Human, Supernatural, Lost) is adept at creating an ominously malevolent presence within his role of resident baddie.

The “powers” themselves manifest in their entirety (telekinesis, teleportation and telepathy) within each one of the Tomorrow People, with the exception of main character Stephen (Robbie Amell), who appears to be much more powerful than his peers and hesitantly accepting the new “saviour” status they bestow upon him.

One of us! One of us! Gooble-gobble, gooble-gobble!

One of us! One of us! Gooble-gobble, gooble-gobble.

Aside from the name being really stupid, I have one other issue that particularly irked me. Amell plays a high school student, who I am assuming, at the most, is supposed to be seventeen. This guy has expression lines on his forehead the size of chasms. I looked him up, he’s twenty-five in real life. I don’t get why a grown ass man playing a baggy-trousered post-pubescent seventeen year old high school student would be appealing, or believable, to anyone. I get that his powers manifest at a certain period in his life, but come on. Cast an actual teen, or at least have him in college. That way you don’t have to deal with getting around pesky parents, little brothers or the fact that you’re not allowed to stay out passed 10pm because saving the world can wait until tomorrow when it’s a school night. This is a serious pet peeve of mine, but I digress.

Having only seen the pilot it is hard to judge if there is any potential here, but I will be giving it a chance.

Verdict: HIT.

Once Upon A Time In Wonderland

Once Upon A Time In Wonderland

One word: disappoint. Well I have more words than that, but it pretty much sums this first episode of this brand new spin-off series up for me. I’m not sure exactly what it was I was expecting from this; perhaps I was hopeful for a return to the wonderful magic that the first season of Once Upon A Time had given me. That didn’t happen, instead I got a hodge-podge hot mess of poor writing, awful CGI and an unforeseen crossover of fairy tales.

That’s not to say it was all bad. I was intrigued by the opening; Alice, now a young woman, is in the loony bin, trying to convince the ebil dome doctors that she’s perfectly sane. It’s rather a dark scene, and already I’m impressed with Sophie Lowe as Alice. I like the direction this is going and I think to myself, “Ooh, this could be juicy.” Throughout this scene we’re bombarded with quick, concise flashbacks as the doctor interviewing her lists off her litany of delusions. We see her thirty second love affair with a genie in a bottle, his proposal and then his supposed demise by the hands of the Red Queen. Who is not the original Red Queen, by the way, not sure how they plan on explaining that one. Anyway, after signing a portion of her brain away and giving permission to be lobotomised (I’m pretty sure that’s what they were getting at), Alice is “rescued” by the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha of Being Human and This Is England fame) and The White Rabbit (voiced by the wonderful John Lithgow) and she falls down a rabbit hole and lands back in Wonderland, where it all just goes to poop.

Alice finds love at the end of a bottle.

Alice finds love at the bottom of a bottle.

I’ll kick things off with what I liked. As soon as Alice was snapped out of her funk, she seemed to be a capable and resourceful young woman, who was well able to throw a punch and a kick. I liked the cast, however misused they were, the new Red Queen (Emma Rigby) just looked delicious and there was a subtle chemistry between Lowe and Socha. Jafar (Naveen Andrews) force-chocking the Queen was a lulzy moment.

And now for what I didn’t like. The CGI was terrible. In the original Once Upon A Time the sub-par CGI was part of its charm for me, I didn’t need it, they didn’t have to use it all that often (you can film the Enchanted Forest in a regular old forest, for example), but in Wonderland for the sake of visuals you really do need to bring in the big guns. The corny five minute love story bugged me to no end, too. Yes, yes I know that fairytale land is rife with them, but this felt the most ridiculous of them all.

Unfortunately I won’t be adding Once Upon A Time In Wonderland to my must watch list. It just wasn’t good.

Seriously. That's Sayid on a magic carpet.

Seriously. That’s Sayid on a magic carpet.

Verdict: MISS.

The Walking Dead S4

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead‘s return gave me plenty to feel optimistic about. As you could have probably guessed by now, I’m a fan of the show and I’ve been waiting ever so (im)patiently for its return. The last we saw the gang they were bringing in the zombie-fodder survivors having liberated them from Governor Pirate’s regime, and after a time jump of several months Season 4 shows us how they’ve integrated and the extent to which they’ve set up shop in the prison.

We see our original group in positions of authority, the majority of whom have even established a “council”, according to Hershell, which denotes obvious strives toward reclaiming some former semblance of normality in a still very dangerous dystopian society. The introductions to the new folks come quick and fast, but efficiently too, as we succeed in getting to know the bare bones of some of our new additions, and concurrently realise that their newfound confidence in their situation is completely misplaced. Complacence will get you killed and I’ve no doubt it is a lesson these people will have to learn repeatedly. I’m looking forward to what could be a new season full of intricate and interesting character development for our core group, as well as some mass Red Shirt deaths in the coming episodes.

A wild Irish Woman appears.

A wild Irish Woman appears.

For some great recaps be sure to mosey on over to Sidekick Reviews, which is probably where I’ll be doing the majority of my TWD discussions.

Verdict: HIT.

I have one or two other recommendations to get through, but that’s pretty much me done and dusted for now. What are you lovely people watching? Anything good? Hit me with it!

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32 replies

  1. Haha loved your point about older actors playing younger characters in U.S. TV shows, it’s like the cast of Smallville – wasn’t Tom Welling in his twenties when it started?

    I’m still annoyed that Alphas got the chop, I actually stopped watching it as soon as I heard the news to spare the pain arg!

    • Haha yes! Smallville is another great example! At least Welling looked semi-youthful when it started, the problem is they don’t stay that way. Curse you Mother Nature!

      I was sad when I found out Alphas wasn’t being renewed, it had just gotten into a good stride too. That’s definitely one of the pitfalls of watching new shows when they’re originally released. Sometimes it’s better to let them have their first season run, then when they’re somewhat “safe”, go back and watch it all at once in one big binge.

    • I saw it till the end, and the Cliffhanger ending was painful. You spared yourself a lot of grief my friend.

  2. I think the worst offender on older actors playing kids will always be Dawson’s Creek, with 20-something actors playing 15-16 year old “teens”…

    I also Loved Alphas and I was sad when they cancelled it. I’m giving Tomorrow People a 2-3 episode chance. If its manages to pull me in, cool. It’s the same chance I gave BBC’s Atlantis before I decided it wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

    I read somewhere they were planning on rebooting Heroes with a fresh set of characters, and if they do, I’ll give that a shot.

    I enjoyed Wonderland a bit, but I can’t be objective if it involves the Cheshire Cat, also the Knave was in the last 2 series of BBC3’s Being Human hahahaha. CGI wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, though Alice isn’t the most appealing character out there. I did like how her Victorian Era London is actually another separate world from our own, seemingly trapped in that period of time. I’m giving it a 3-5 episode chance to reel me in hahahaha

    • Dawson’s Creek, the biggest offender. And not just offensive in the sense that their casting was ridiculous, but also in the sense that the whole thing was AWFUL.

      A 2-3 episode chance for The Tomorrow People seems fair, I’ll probably do the same thing myself. I hadn’t heard anything about a Heroes reboot, that would be exciting, must do some digging because I’d definitely be into that.

      The Cheshire Cat, as an actual character, was the one I most wanted to see in the Wonderland opener. Unfortunately, though I love Cheshy, that entire fight sequence was one of the biggest CGI fails of the episode for me. I don’t know, maybe I’d be more forgiving of the look of the episode if I’d enjoyed the story. It was a tough one to call, I felt all sorts of conflicted when I’d finished watching it. If you’re giving it a 3-5 episode chance make sure you come back and let me know if it succeeded in reeling you in. :D

  3. Really? Once Upon A Time In Wonderland is a miss? I wanted that to work out…but I’ll take your word for it. I already have an abundant amount to catch up with. I still haven’t started the fall season series yet…But at least you gave hits to the ones I wanted to see more.

    • Just from looking around at other reviews I’ve found the majority of people disagreeing with me about Wonderland, so definitely give the first episode a watch if you think you might like it Kim! I hope you get the chance to do some of the watching you’d like to, I can’t believe I got this much done, you’d easily know I had the week off work. :D

  4. I thought the same thing about The Tomorrow People. First of all that guy is freaking huge to be a teen, and second I don’t buy for a second that he would get bullied.

  5. lol “a wild Irish Woman appears.” i feel like that would fit great in a Pokemon game :P
    anyway, this is a great sequel to your first Fall Roundup
    The Tomorrow People lost me when I saw the main character do a “hadouken” on somebody in a trailer.
    & “Everybody Loves Daryl” is a spin-off AMC is looking to green light for next fall. Poor Harry Potter, looking kid. Seemed like a nice guy.

  6. “What are you lovely people watching? Anything good?”

    Well, Now that you ask…

    You’ve hit a couple of my favorites in your last two posts. I really don’t have that many more because, at my age, attention span is an issue.

    I’m waiting for next week to see NBC’s offering of “Dracula.” Hopefully, no shimmering and no nice “I’ve got a soul” undead who have leaned to play nice with us humans most of the time. The Dracula I grew up with had teeth and a well honed ability to use them ruthlessly. In his wake, he left a trail of fresh undead who had to unexpectedly get accustomed to being long in the tooth. Here’s hoping the writers embrace that concept.

    Switching gears, I’ve enjoyed the reboot of “Ironsides.” Blair Underwood was a good choice. Of course, other than the wheelchair, there isn’t much similarity between the original series and this reincarnation but, so far, I’m enjoying Underwood’s “Rules, what rules?” method of solving the crime.

    When you’re a grumpy old engineer like me, a little comedy in your entertainment is essential. My show of choice for the last few years has been…wait for it…The Big Bang Theory. I know, who would think that an engineer would like that show? The entire cast clicks, but the reality is that the show is really about Kaley Cuoco. Any of the rest of the cast could be replaced. She can’t. When they make the TV version of “The Verbal Spew” in a few years, she’s the only one who can play Vee and make it work.

    My new comedy of choice is “The Crazy Ones” and I waited impatiently for it all summer long. Robin Williams is a legend for good reason. When he starts on a roll, there is no comedian on the face of the Earth who can keep up with him. Sarah Michelle Gellar honed her ability at witty repartee during her Buffy years. Unfortunately, until now she’s had precious few opportunities to use that skill. In The Crazy Years, she’s the perfect ying to Robin William’s yang. I spend half of the show silently reminiscing about past exchanges with my own daughter as I watch the funny and sometimes poignant give and take between Sarah and Robin. As a bonus, the blooper reel with Kelly Clarkson cracked me up. Please, please give us more of that!

    There Vee, that’ll teach you to ask a grumpy old engineer who is prone to senior moments an open ended question. You never know where it will lead.

    Great Post!! :)

    • Oh brilliant JF, I’d completely forgotten about Dracula AND The Crazy Ones. Dracula I’d like to check out obviously because he’s the ORIGINAL (and best) vampire, with hopefully, like you say, no shimmering or souls. No tween romance. There’s enough of those on TV already. Give us the murderous, lustful, dangerous creatures of the night that they were originally intended to be.

      The Crazy Ones I wanted to check out because I too love Robin Williams, and the back and forth you describe between Williams and SMG sounds right up my street.

      I haven’t heard anything about Ironsides so will have a look for that one.

      I’ve been watching TBBT for years, should have known you’d be a fan too :D. Normally with that one I wait for a few episodes to build up and then watch them all at once. They’re over far too quickly sometimes, one episode is never sufficient for me. I’m very greedy like that.

      Thanks for the recs JF, open-ended questions to an engineer for the win!

      • I really do think that you should write a script based on The Verbal Spew. My Gosh, think of the comedic potential. Witty Irish woman child wraps the entire internet around her little finger while movie, television and gaming moguls ply her with attention and fine chocolate in the hopes of getting a great review. The possibilities are endless. You could set the show in an Irish pub with an entourage of your twenty-something friends. Sounds like a dream job to me. :)

  7. I also like The Tomorrow People so far. I’m a little weary of how powerful they are especially Stephen. If he can stop time and teleport at will, it might become a common solution to his dilemmas. As soon as I saw the trailers, I didn’t believe for a second he was a high-school student … college student would been more appropriate. I think he’s a good actor though. I also liked Mark Pellegrino performance and glad to see he’ll be a regular. Btw, thanks for the mention. :)

    • Welcome! Yes agree that Stephen is overpowered, and I’d wager the writers will have to do some retcon and put a few more obstacles in place for him to overcome in order to use his powers completely. Like you said, the temptation to use him to solve every problem would be too much, and frankly kind of boring, if they don’t.

Trackbacks

  1. Once Upon A Time In (a not so) Wonderland – Pilot Review | All Things Curiousjoi
  2. [TV] The Fall Roundup – HIT or MISS? (Revisited) « The Verbal Spew Review
  3. Once Upon A Time In (a not so) Wonderland – Pilot Review – All Things Curiousjoi

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