First Impressions: The 100

Post-apocalyptic teen drama. Could be better than it sounds!

In what must be considered a golden age of TV, it tends to make us hyper critical of any new series that lands on our TV screens. Game Of Thrones, True Detective, Hannibal, Breaking Bad and The Good Wife have raised our expectations to what often tend to be unrealistic levels. Also, with the cutthroat way the American system works, if a big new series doesn’t deliver in the first few episodes it risks being cancelled before the first series has even aired. The Tomorrow People, Touch and Believe are just three recent shows that premiered to big fanfares only to find themselves on the scrapheap before they had found their stride.

And so The 100 is the latest show to put its head above the parapet hoping to be one of the lucky survivors in the crowded schedules. Showing here on E4 it’s based on a series of young adult novels by Kass Morgan, it tells of a world decimated by nuclear war where earth has become uninhabitable and the survivors are living on a space station known as The Ark. Realising that life support is running out, the powers that be have the bright idea of sending one hundred teenagers, currently spending time in prison as youth offenders, down to Earth to see if it’s now safe to repopulate. While they are gone, aboard The Ark a power struggle is taking place as people know that time is running out and some want more people jettisoned to extend the amount of time others will have left.

As this is aimed at a young audience the whole thing moves at a breakneck speed, and the events in episode 1 would probably have been stretched over three or four episodes in a show aimed at an older audience. So speedy is the plot propelled that it’s hard to keep up with the gaping plot holes that appear at regular intervals. Why it was decided that kids should be sent to Earth, unarmed, when there must be adults in prison that were equally expendable is never explained. Neither is the fact that all the kids are American, despite the station being made up of multiple nationalities, nor that they are all slim and attractive with fabulous hair. The moment they land they split into warring factions, for no apparent reason, so we can only assume something happened aboard The Ark that may be explained later.

Once on the ground six of the kids have to make their way to a mountain where they are told supplies have been stored (very forward thinking) which involves trekking through glowing forests where they encounter two headed stags and man eating water snakes, leaving the rest of the kids behind to bicker and fight around an (apparently) easy to make bonfire. Every few minutes we cut back to space to discover how the adults are doing, only to discover that they are doing just as badly. Bickering and fighting for control of The Ark.

If that short overview makes it sound like The 100 isn’t worth your time, surprisingly you would be wrong. Yes it’s very generic, with few of the characters having discernible personalities, and the plot seems to have been written by committee in order to keep everyone happy. In fact it would seem that anyone that came up with a plot idea had it integrated into the story, so we can only hope that, as it progresses, all these plot lines manage to gel into a cohesive story. The acting is serviceable, but at this early stage no one is really standing out, although oddly the kids seem a lot more believable than the adults.

The reason that you should keep watching though is because of what may be on Earth with the kids. The final shot of the opening episode is genuinely quite shocking, and paves the way for a Battle Royale for the kids where man eating snakes may be the least of their worries. You could complain it’s nothing more than a hybrid of Lord Of The Flies and Hunger Games, but as long as the writers keep the momentum they have initiated in this episode and don’t skimp on special effects The 100 could be one of the summers pleasant surprises.

Duncan Stripp

Updated: Jul 18, 2014

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