Saturday, 10 May 2014

The 100 S1x01 "Pilot"

I review the first episode of The 100, The CW’s latest post apocalyptic drama, starring Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Bobby Morley and more. 

The 100 is a show that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while and when I finally got around to it, It did not disappoint. Having only liked two CW shows out of the many that I’ve watched up until now, Arrow and Supernatural, I wasn’t expecting great things from the series yet at the same time I did not want to be disappointed. Thankfully, despite some problems, The 100 is a show that does prove that it not only has a lot of potential, but also proves to be a very entertaining show, at least based on what its pilot has provided.

The 100 is a post apocalyptic drama that set 97 years after a devastating Nuclear War that wiped out all life on Earth, with the only survivors belonging to the residents of the twelve space stations in Earth Orbit prior to the war, and a handful of “grounders” who managed to escape to the space stations. Banding together to form a single massive space station called “The Ark”, it plays host to 2,400 people. However, The Ark is dying, and time is running out for the people in space. Due to the rarity of resources, all crimes no matter what they are can be punished by death, unless the guilty suspect is under 18 years of age. We learn that one hundred imprisoned, teenage convicts have been declared “expendable” and are sent to the surface in order to discover whether life on the planet is habitable or not.

The plot is certainly intriguing and has all the prospects for a great series – think a post apocalyptic Lord of the Flies intended for The Hunger Games market with a good dash of CW-isms thrown in for good measure. Some of the acting may be weak in places and the characters look all too clean for people in their current predicament, meaning that the whole grimdark feel is kind of robbed, which is the same sort of problem that the recently cancelled series Revolution had. It’s hard to make your show look realistic when all of your characters look like teenage models in a post apocalyptic setting.

However, I found the cast to be decent. Nothing too ground breaking here and it fails to meet the acting found in even other shows on the CW (Arrow & Supernatural specifically) but there is certainly promise and we all know how shaky of a start Arrow got off to – taking at least half a season before it actually got any good. However, unlike Arrow and Supernatural, The 100 casts a lead female character in the spotlight, Eliza Taylor’s Clarke who’s the daughter of Dr. Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco) and the deceased Jake Griffin. Having been arrested because she, like her father – wanted to let the public know that the Ark was dying, Clarke finds herself heading down to the ground with the other criminals.

From the start, the show is filled with exposition, with a scene where the son of the Chancellor (Isaiah Washington), Wells (Eli Goree), shout at each other about their backstory in a life-or-death situation being one of the more notable incidents that the show could have done without. However, most pilots these days tend to have large amounts of exposition, so I’m hoping that this is something that they can tone down as the show goes on.

The tone is dramatic and the creators do their best to make the show grimdark. We get deaths to the 100 before they even reach Earth, and reviews for future episodes state that we’re not done with the bloodshed just yet.

There’s a mixture of cast in this show, both young and old that help leave an impact. As Battlestar Galactica is my favourite show, I loved seeing Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeta) show up as one of the adults aboard the Ark and I hope that  this isn’t the last we’ll see of his character, and having been informed that there’s more BSG cast appearing on the show in later episodes, I can’t wait.

The various teenagers are also dropped on us in quick succession. Besides Clarke and Wells, we get Bellamy (Bobby Morley) and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), the only brother and sister amongst the group in a world where to have more than one child is punishable by death – Octavia’s existence having been kept a secret. We get other stereotypes as well, such as a bad-boy with a heart of gold, Finn (Thomas McDonnell), and a comedic duo Jasper (Devon Bostick) and Monty (Chris Larkin). With these characters being the main focus of the group, it’s understandable that we don’t get much attention for the rest of The 100 just yet.

However, despite the cast, there’s no really strong character here just yet, nobody quite ready to become everybody’s favourite character. They don’t make an instant impression, with Clarke, the series’ lead only having potential at the moment. There’s also the problem of pop music such as Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive being played over important moments that are among the several CW-isms at work here, including the ground-laying for possible romantic triangles to develop in the future. They could be done without, but despite this, the show is still relatively strong.

With some solid special effects and a script and characters with potential, The 100 is off to a solid start. Hopefully the dialogue will improve over time and the CW-isms will decrease, but for now, I have added another show to my list of titles that I’m currently watching. It may not be the best thing on TV but it does at least provide for some entertaining viewing, and the fact that it’s been renewed for Season 2 has to count for something, right?


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