You may recall the recent announcement that SpoilerTV received a bunch of screeners from The CW to preview, about a week or so ago. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to review The 100,
Although "Spoiler" is in our name here at SpoilerTV, because these are screeners, chances are there will be a couple of small changes to the screener from the one I watched, to the one that premieres on The CW when the time comes. As a result I'm not going to reveal too much more than what's already been revealed in the series preview, and in cast interviews.
Anyway, enough of the disclaimer stuff, time to tell you what I thought. I decided I'd divide this review into the 9 C's. This was a concept I dreamed up one night for some reason, but it looks like it will come in handy for reviewing The 100.
The 9 C's are as follows:
> Concept - the basic plot and direction of the show
> Commendable - what was good
> Crap - what wasn't good
> Clever - things that were really well done, or done differently or uniquely
> Characters - fairly obvious, the characters in the show
> Cast - again fairly obvious
> Chemistry - important for potential relationships, and a cornerstone of CW shows
> Comparable - what you could compare the show to
> Complexity - How complicated is the plot, is there potential for twists, turns, and cliff-hangers
Let's start from the top, with the Concept
As you have probably gathered by now, The 100 is a story about a space colony who were the last left following a nuclear war that killed everyone on earth, and left the planet "simmering in radiation". Life is pretty harsh on "The Ark", a large space ship orbiting Earth, which is made up of the space colonies of 12 nations who had a presence in space at the time of the apocalypse. Life is pretty harsh on The Ark, where the colony has resided for 97 years. Running out of supplies, combined with mechanical problems, results in laws of capital punishment - or being "floated" for any crime committed by anyone over the age of 18 as a method of culling the population. It is definitely not a democracy on board either. A last ditch attempt to extend life on The Ark is to send 100 prisioner youths, who were too young to be "floated", to Earth to test if it is liveable, when Earth apparently needs a further century to recover from the apocalypse. Much like a series pilot's purpose is to test the waters with the network executives, the 100 youths are a pilot for the head honchos on board The Ark to determine if it's safe to return to Earth. The story seems like it will mostly evolve around how these 100 perform on Earth, and the consequences that occur as a result, on board The Ark
So there's the basic concept of The 100 laid out for you. There's a tiny bit of stuff in there that might be news to you if you’ve been following the hype.
Second on the list is Commendable
I thought the opening scene of The 100 was very good. You see a brief, heavily edited snippet of it in the series preview videos released by CW. The actual full scene in the screener is much better, with a longer voice-over using different words. It introduces the plot and perspective of the series very well. The Ark you see in the series preview is pretty cool, too.
The green screen is used in segments of the screener, and it is used very well. The same goes for CGI based stuff like The Ark
It's really hard to accurately portray too much more of what's commendable without giving too much away, sorry about that folks!
Moving on to Crap
It isn't as bad as it sounds, surprisingly. There isn't a whole lot I didn't like about the screener. There's nothing I would change in terms of how events played out. The only gripes I have are the names of a couple of the main characters. The names "Clarke" and "Octavia" are rather unorthodox, in particular the former because it's a female character that that name belongs to. I'm also not certain the series name "The 100" will remain relevant for long, but you can probably see that I'm grasping at straws to be picking on such things
Fourth on the list is Clever
To be honest, there wasn’t anything significant in The 100 that is pioneering or groundbreaking, apart from the unique concept. This show has the goods to do so though, if the creative team head in the right direction
On to the second half now of the 9 C's, with Characters up first
The plot is based on 100 teenagers being sent to Earth. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it would be impossible to see each and every one of the 100, because that would require an awful lot of casting, as well as financing that The CW simply wouldn't have. Instead the pilot looks at a couple of groups formed by the 100, who, shall we say, don’t see eye to eye. There's a couple of wannabe leaders who have a small gang of followers loitering around them, and one or two that may stick around for purposes of not taking sides at all. Ironically, the only two females on Earth, are also two of the main characters. One could assume the girls are better behaved than the boys on The Ark -- most of the time.
On board The Ark, the screener focused almost exclusively on the head honchos, and those in charge of the experiment of sending the 100 teens to Earth. There appears to be several varying viewpoints among the adults, providing for quite a bit of conflict. I dare not say more than that
Sixth on the list is the Cast
There's several actors well known to television fans on The 100's cast. Representing the adults, Paige Turco and Henry Ian Cusick come fresh off recurring roles in CBS dramas Person of Interest and The Mentalist respectively. Cusick was also a series regular in the first season of ABC's Scandal. Isaiah Washington returns to TV after a 6 year absence, with Bionic Woman in 2007 being the show he last featured significantly in. Fans of Grey's Anatomy will also be aware of his three year stint as Preston Burke beginning in 2005. Kelly Hu is also on the cast, having had many one-off roles on some big shows in recent years
For the teenagers, former Neighbours star, and Australian, Eliza Taylor-Cotter leads, with the second female on Earth played by Marie Avgeropoulos. Another Australian, Bobby Morley, along with Chris Larkin, Thomas McDonnell, and Eli Goree also star in the screener. One of the guys' life is very much in doubt at the conclusion of the screener, but that’s all I'll say there
I was pleased with how the adult leads performed. Their experience and skill definitely stands out when compared to the younger actors. It's rare to see younger, inexperienced actors really nail their performances in a pilot, and while there's room for improvement in their performances, the majority of them will grow into their roles. I do have concerns about the other recurring actors playing the remaining teenagers - the potential for high actor turnover needs to be addressed by ensuring said actors are up for the job if that’s the direction the series takes. There's possibly room for the odd cameo appearance by some of the famous young stars around today as well - doing so would boost ratings and publicity for the show
As with any show, the cast has to be given time to gel, and I'm sure the more seasoned actors will mentor the younger ones. All actors' performances were up to the bar in the screener, which is a positive sign so I'll definitely be reserving judgement for now. For the record, I have definitely seen worse opening performances
CW shows are known for their relationships, so let's talk about Chemistry
I'll keep it pretty short and sweet here. With only 2 girls, and the number of guys in the 90's (not 98 thanks to a rough Earth landing) this show is asking for some relationship action. No doubt there will be some young men who think they're more eligible than others - or who are simply main characters - that will pull out all the stops to impress the female duo, which is something the CW's target audience of young women will welcome. Bearing in mind this is a screener, the chemistry featured is pretty typical of other teen shows and movies with the early hitting seen here and there. However they were good though, and they had potential, both of which are good signs
So what is The 100 Comparable to?
To be honest, the first two things I thought of when I saw the plot for The 100 were NBC's freshman drama Revolution, and 2012 hit movie The Hunger Games. However after watching the screener for The 100, I am somewhat pleased to announce that The 100 is hardly like either of the aforementioned in my opinion. All that The 100 has in common with Revolution is that its post apocalyptic of some sort. The Hunger Games shares the characteristics of a forced quest, meaning that those on the quest don’t have a say in the matter, but are in control of their own actions. Apart from those remote comparisons, The 100 doesn’t resemble anything else I've seen before, though I'm sure other viewers will have their own opinions about that
Rounding out the 9 C's is Complexity
As with any pilot, its purpose is to set the scene and hook people in, but opening a complex story isn't always the best way to do that.
Thankfully, The 100 doesn't go there. However there are multiple hints of storylines that will almost certainly be introduced, which was pleasing to see. The most interesting storyline for now will be how a group of nearly 100 teenagers get on with each other, and how they go about surviving and carrying out their objective on their own, bearing in mind they are the first to have set foot on Earth in 97 years. The experiment controllers, as well as their families, are counting on them, and the actions the 100 take, and decisions they make will easily alter the course of the series. In short, there is plenty of room for multiple storylines, big and small, to develop. The audience will simply have to watch to find out where the writers choose to take them. As for cliff-hangers, well there's enough potential in this type of storyline for it to go without saying
That concludes the 9 C's, so I guess it's time for me to give The 100 a rating. Given that the plot is well structured, along with a good set of cast members, and the potential of a good quality storyline, I'd rate The 100's screener 8/10. I think thats pretty generous, but it's done enough for me to watch at least the second episode of the series. I'm tough to please, and I've seen better pilots in my time, but The 100 is off to a good start in my book
So there we have it! I hope my review of the screener has been helpful for you to choose the shows you'll have a look at later in the year. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments below, though that does come with the condition that I won't be giving much away. The series premiere will do that talking. There are, however, a few subtle hints towards aspects of the show buried in my review which you're welcome to find and think about
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Below are the three promotional videos released by The CW for The 100