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Latest UK Adaptation: The Tomorrow People

By November 19, 2012

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Some of (I)The Tomorrow People(/i).

Some of The Tomorrow People.

© ITV/Thames Television

Yet another U.K. series from the Seventies has been targeted for an American adaptation, despite the fact that translating TV drama from the strange, fey era of Seventies Britain into our impatient, red-blooded world, where even Vincent the Beast has to be played by a gym-groomed hunk, must be only slightly more challenging than piecing together a new version of The Epic of Gilgamesh from the original Sumerian.

Today's subject, The Tomorrow People, is a striking example. Originally devised as a children's series about a smattering of youths who prove to have evolved to the next stage of humanity, Homo superior, it ran on ITV from 1973 to 1979 with a rotating cast and a burgeoning cult following. It tells you a bit about the times and the tone of the premise that part of the inspiration came from a chat the show's creator, Roger Price (who also created the seminal You Can't Do That on Television), had with David Bowie. There's a great deal of the concept that seems to be partially rooted in the harsh class divisions of late 20th-century Britain (the evolved youths refer to ordinary, violence-prone humans as saps, for Homo sapiens, and the potential for disdain of lower orders ain't a coincidence).

And yet at the same time the concept is inherently optimistic: humanity is on the threshold of an amazing step forward, if only we aren't held back by our own baser instincts, and the show's heroes are dedicated to protecting the rest of humanity.

Now a team of superior sci-fi/fantasy creators, Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec, whose most recent credits are Arrow and The Vampire Diaries respectively, have launched an adaptation of the series for The CW, in which the diverse and international group of evolved young people use their special powers--teleporting and telepathy, chiefly--to defeat the forces of evil.

These two both have a great deal of experience with supernaturally powerful young people, but it seems to me that the visibly potent bucks and heroines of recent super-youth shows are of a different order from the kinds of earnest, cerebral youths that Seventies writers thought of when they pondered advanced human evolution, and which featured in shows like The Tomorrow People and the show it was created to compete with, Doctor Who (think of the Mentiads in "The Pirate Planet," for example).

Fortunately Berlanti and Plec are longtime fans of the original series and have been working on getting the right for a while, so at least we can expect that the foundations of the program won't be dismissed out of hand. But how they, and their scriptwriter for the project, Phil Klemmer, will position this period piece in today's world is a most interesting question, and I'm very excited to find out.
Tags: The Tomorrow People, Greg Berlanti, Julie Plec
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November 19, 2012 at 9:52 am
(1) mouse says:

I was never a big fan of this series. However isn’t the theme rather eugenic in nature.

Normally scientific advance always comes with its price that comes both socially and ethically. Still, we have the final series of fringe that is following the exact same concept…. we don’t know yet if the watchers are following justification by numbers method / utilitarian ethics for the better good. let’s see…. but it’s going to have to be a BSG remake good to convince me.

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