Wednesday, March 19, 2014

'The 100'

At least in its first two episodes, The 100 seems to be struggling between a gritty, Battlestar Galactica-style sci-fi drama and a swoony teen romance, and since it airs on The CW, there's a good chance that the second mode will ultimately win out. Like Battlestar, the show follows a tiny core of humanity that has survived the near-destruction of Earth and is living in cramped spaceships; in this case, survivors of a nuclear holocaust have been inhabiting a complex of multiple space stations for nearly 100 years since nuclear war wiped out most of Earth's population. The scenes that take place on the space stations, with character played by actors like Henry Ian Cusick, Isaiah Washington, Paige Turco and Kelly Hu, have a strong Battlestar vibe, as worn-out commanders and officials try their best to make impossible moral decisions.

But the core of The 100, and the source of the title, are the 100 teenage characters who are sent back to the desolate Earth to see if it can be re-inhabited. They're all convicts who would probably have been sacrificed in the resource-deprived society in space, so they're prone to violence and rebellion, and that plus their teenage hormones makes for a very volatile situation on the ground. While there are some Lord of the Flies-like moments of violent chaos, the show is just as interested in which of the pretty people will hook up with each other, and there are plenty of Tumblr-ready relationships being formed already. With its rudimentary production values and inconsistent acting, The 100 feels a bit like an old-school basic cable series, but airing on Syfy or USA probably would have freed it from the obligation to appeal to a teenage fangirl audience. On The CW, the 'shippers are likely to end up at the helm.

Premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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