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Article updated: 10/7/2013 6:19 AM

Sci-fi show stays rooted in reality -- except with superpowers

By

As if high school isn't tough enough, Stephen Jameson is convinced, with good reason, that he is going crazy. He hears voices no one else does. Yet in Stephen's strange new life the voices are real. He's a superior creature, a "homo superior," as he discovers on the compelling "The Tomorrow People," premiering on The CW Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Stephen is a good guy, says Robbie Amell, who plays the high-school student. He earns good grades and is a devoted son, but his life unravels.

"If you were hearing voices in your head that weren't your own, that would be horrifying," Amell says. "He is finding out that there isn't anything wrong."

Not if you are a genetically mutated superhuman, there isn't. In addition to hearing voices, he teleports in his sleep, a habit that does not endear him to neighbors when he wakes up in between a husband and wife. He can move incredibly fast, punch hard, leap and do it all at seemingly the speed of light.

"For people who know nothing about it, it's 'X-Men' meets 'The Matrix,'" says Luke Mitchell, who plays John, one of the Tomorrow People. "It has the government agency aspect of 'Matrix' with the superpower elements of 'X-Men.'"

John is a leader of the Tomorrow People, and involved with Cara (Peyton List). The Tomorrow People, which also include Russell (Aaron Yoo), are endangered. Since they are evolved, they can't kill, and that's a distinct disadvantage.

The paramilitary Ultra, a group of renegade scientists, hunts the Tomorrow People. Ultra considers the Tomorrow People, a species living among us, a threat.

The pilot does a solid job of explaining the mythology of the show, which developed a cult following after being a hit in the U.K. in the 1970s. The CW version is set in New York. The Tomorrow People's hiding place is an abandoned subway station, where they hone their skills: telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation. They fight as if they're in a martial arts film.

"It is a genre show," List says. "It is a sci-fi show. There are superpowers. But we keep it set in reality as much as possible."

Cara reaches out to Stephen; it's her voice he hears, saying, "You are not crazy."

Cara and John explain to Stephen who and what he is. This helps him understand why he has astounding strength. Stephen's powers are far greater than the others. Then again, he is the son of a man revered among the Tomorrow People.

Understandably, Stephen spends much of the pilot confused. There are, though, wonderful side effects to superhuman powers. A school bully steals Stephen's medicine, a psychotropic drug doctors prescribed for a misdiagnosed mental illness. The bully gets high from the meds, and when he helps himself to more, Stephen has replaced them with laxatives and let the bully steal those. The two wind up in a fight, and with Stephen's newfound super strength, he pulverizes the bully.

Still, Stephen is kidnapped in lower Manhattan and taken to Ultra headquarters, where he meets Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino). An evolutionary biologist who studies the Tomorrow People, Price has Stephen restrained, and just as he about to inject Stephen with an antidote to stem his powers, the Tomorrow People breach Ultra's headquarters.

So, Stephen has a stark choice. He can either go underground with the Tomorrow People or he can live above ground with his family and friends, working against his own kind.

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