Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The 100'

In The CW's idealistic future, everybody over 35 is in orbit somewhere

<p>The CW's &quot;The 100&quot;</p>

The CW's "The 100"

Credit: The CW

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"The 100" (The CW)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "Imagine a world populated only by sexy young people, where the old people -- anybody over 35, really -- is off in isolation somewhere where they're entirely irrelevant." "Ummm... We're The CW. That's *all* of our shows." "Oh. Well. Um. In this one, the old folks are off in space somewhere." "It's like a metaphor! For all our other shows! Sold!"
Quick Response: As unlikely as it is that my "Pitch" was what actually sold "The 100" to The CW, this midseason drama is close to being parody, without being funny. If "Star-Crossed" is like somebody studied The CW's dramatic formula and delivered a pilot that checked every single familiar box in the most familiar way possible, "The 100" is like somebody was looking at that CW formula and started to get cocky and was like, "What if I take that formula and graft it onto a really silly YA-friendly high concept that nobody will ever think to question because the actors are all so darned cute?" Because dystopic futures with heavy-handed thematics are popular with the kids, "The 100" starts with an absurd premise -- 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse, humanity is floating in space stations and they decide to send 100 juvenile delinquents down to Earth to see if it's safe to repopulate. Of course, in this society, literally any minor crime can make you a juvenile delinquent, so it's much more "Lord of the Sexy Flies" than "The Dirty Eight-Dozen." For 44 minutes, Jason Rothenberg's pilot script is basically nothing but expositional dialogue, as everybody explains future tech and the global situation, rather than illustrating it, and all of the characters are introduced by having other people describe them -- "You're the guy who..." "You're that girl who..." "Isn't your father..." "That's just like somebody who..." -- rather than doing things that might teach you about the characters organically. Of course, Rothenberg would be right to point out that in a pilot that could plausibly have 100 main teenage characters, it's hard to introduce the whole world fluidly. Maybe that's why the Dirty Dozen was only 12, perhaps? It's not like there weren't 100 military prisoners who might have made that Anti-Nazi mission a bit easier. But in a movie, even learning 12 characters is hard. Seven? Now that would be magnificent! But 100? That's cuckoo bananas. And while several of the "100" stars are the latest models off of the CW assembly line -- Marie Avgeropoulos, for example, survived "Cult" -- most of them are unfamiliar (and some are really, really bad at the acting thing, even if they excel at the "good-looking" thing. So it's pretty people crash-landing on Earth and blathering, while it becomes increasingly obvious that there are weird things happening in the land we used to call home. It's "Carrie Diaries" meets "Chernoybl Diaries" in the future! Meanwhile, all of the recognizable actors -- Paige Turco, Isaiah Washington, Kelly Hu, Desmond from "Lost" -- are out in space being SO DAMN OLD and arguing about future-civics or something. The old people are in one clunky, exposition-heavy show. The young people are in a completely different clunky, exposition-heavy show. The old person show is boring. The young person show is annoying. The old person show reminds you of why there are so few old people in "Hunger Games"/"Divergent"/"Delirium." At least at the end of the young person show, there's a cliffhanger that may be silly enough to get a few people (sad people, like me) back.
Desire To Watch Again: I'm of two minds here: Ideally, a pilot with this much exposition really should have set its world up well enough that once we get to the second episode, things should fly. However, very little of the exposition in the pilot makes much sense, so I fear there's more explaining still to come. Plus, of the 100 juvenile delinquents, we've barely met any of them, so they could be awkwardly introducing us to new characters for years to come. I won't be staying with the show for that long, but it's pretty much inevitable that I'll watch a few more episodes.

 

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Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
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All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

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Daniel Fienberg
Executive Editor
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.
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