I’ve written before here about the delightful — if too little remembered — BBC series “The Champions”, which aired for one season in 1968-69. What set this supernatural spy show apart from all others was that the heroes all shared the same superpowers. So instead of each character’s superpower becoming a cheap short-hand for his or her personality, the show developed its character arcs the old fashioned way — through personality and relationships.
Since every supernatural ensemble since then has opted for the more obvious but less interesting route of “I have this particular superpower and therefore this is who I am”, (think: XMen, Heroes, The Incredibles, The Avengers, Alphas, the list goes on and on), I had despaired of anybody creating another series of superheroes who shared equal powers, and were therefore simply normal to each other.
Which is why I was looking forward to watching “The Tomorrow People”, a new American show that shares this fundamental idea (although it differs in many ways from the 1973 British children’s show on which it is loosely based). Alas, TTP is missing all of the subtlety of The Champions. And the wit. And the humor. And the irony. Except of course for the asian guy, who gets to say funny things from time to time, as a kind of consolation prize for the fact that there is no chance in hell he will get the girl (this being American television).
Everything is overdone, with characters displaying superpowers so spectacular that the show’s fundamental conceit — that humanity has not yet noticed them (because otherwise we would try to kill them) — is unbelievable to be point of being laughable. What is worse, the greatest superpower of all is the weirdly bland and uniform hyper-attractiveness of the boring young cast.
As I see it, if there really were such a rival race of super-beings among us, all of whom were somehow managing to hide in plain sight even though they keep lifting heavy objects with their minds and teleporting from place to place with flashy visual effects, there would still be a way we could hunt them down:
Just look for a group of really boring twenty-somethings who are all pretending to be in high school, and who all have eerily regular features, perfectly chiseled physiques, dangerously sharp cheekbones, and absolutely no sense of humor.
Then kill them.
On the other hand, if we did this, we might just end up wiping out significant portions of the population of Los Angeles. Which maybe wouldn’t be so bad, because then nobody could make more shows like this.