Luke Mitchell and Peyton List
The CW's beyond-generic The Tomorrow People feels like yesterday's news — and not just because it's adapted from a '70s British sci-fi series. Turns out this isn't as durable a property as Doctor Who, or maybe the reboot is just that bad. Cut from the same angsty pattern of so many CW supernatural shows, Tomorrow (Wednesday, 9/8c) offers up a duller than usual gaggle of pretty, overripe CW teens-in-their-20s with superpowers. The "Tomorrow People," we learn in an endless prattle of exposition, are a cluster of genetic mutations whose special gifts emerge upon adolescence. Forget pimples. This subculture specializes in the "three T's": teleportation, telepathy, telekinesis. They forgot "tired," "tepid" and "too too derivative," which much better describes the experience of meeting these lost kids.
The newbie to the group is Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell), who may look familiar because Robbie is cousin to Stephen Amell of Arrow, which airs the same night. (The CW is so into cloning it can't even prune off of a different family tree.) Stephen has an embarrassing habit of magically transporting himself in his sleep, resulting in one of the pilot's few clever moments when he wakes up in a neighbor's bed in an inadvertent ménage a trois. He's also hearing a nagging voice in his head telling him he's special and not crazy, and that would be Cara (Mad Men's Peyton List). She recruits Stephen to Tomorrow-land in hopes of locating his long-lost dad, "the strongest of us all," in a battle against the shadowy Ultra organization that seeks to eradicate this special race. Because the face of the Ultras is the charismatic Mark Pellegrino, guess which side I'm rooting for?
TOIL AND TROUBLE: Sex and death are gruesomely intertwined (so what else is new) throughout the first hour of FX's American Horror Story: Coven (10/9c), the third incarnation of Ryan Murphy's overstuffed miniseries anthology that specializes in ponderous, grotesque overkill. In the plus column: New Orleans, a suitably baroque setting for witches young and old, from the 19th to 21st century, to practice their craft. Or in some cases learn it, at a boarding house operated by Sarah Paulson but soon invaded by Jessica Lange, leading lady of the AHS repertory company, as "Supreme" witch/succubus Fiona. ("Don't make me drop a house on you," Fiona quips after one of their bitch-witch squabbles.) As usual, the cast is front-loaded with marquee names that will be Emmy-bait next summer: Kathy Bates as sadistic Madame LaLaurie, who gets things rolling in an 1834 flashback by performing unspeakable acts in her torture attic, and in a much briefer but striking appearance, Angela Bassett as local voodoo specialist Marie Laveau.
Unfortunately, too much of the focus is on novice witch Zoe, played by Taissa Farmiga with the same one-note boringly sulky attitude she exhibited as the brat you couldn't wait to see die in the first season. She keeps company with co-stars Emma Roberts as a vacuous movie star in hiding and Gabourey Sidibe as a "human voodoo doll." When they all decide to crash a frat party, it goes about as well as you'd expect. And if you're a true fan of horror involving actual recognizable human beings, the good news is that the return of AMC's The Walking Dead in only four days away.
FAMILY MILESTONE: Cam's sister pays a visit to ABC's Modern Family as the four-time Emmy-winning Best Comedy marks its 100th episode (9/8c). Some contend this series is showing its age, and not just because one of this week's subplots involves Gloria (Sofia Vergara) refusing to accept the fact that she needs reading glasses. But I've always enjoyed it when Cam's kin meets the Pritchett-Dunphys, and because his older sister Pam (Dana Powell) is still single, the farce involves Cam trying to keep his engagement a secret to spare her feelings.
THE CRIME BLOTTER: Benson's boyfriend Brian Cassidy (Dean Winters) takes center stage on NBC's Law & Order: SVU (9/8c) when he goes undercover to help an Internal Affairs investigation led by guest star Robert John Burke (who plays a very bad cop on Person of Interest). ... Anticipating a wave of tie-ins to the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, but feeling more exploitative than most, CBS's Criminal Minds (9/8c) sends the BAU team to Dallas to track down a sniper, with an assist from an FBI Agent played by former CSI: Miami star Eva La Rue. ... Cliff really gets around. Having recently guest-starred on Bones, John Ratzenberger reunites with his Cheers buddy Ted Danson on CBS's CSI (10/9c) as a club owner under scrutiny when a fire claims four lives.
THE WEDNESDAY GUIDE: CBS's Survivor promises another blindside this week (8/7c), but not until after a Redemption Island first, pitting husband against wife as "loved ones" John and Candice Cody face Marissa Peterson in an elimination challenge. Another first: a contestant refuses an immunity-idol clue. This season's twists really do seem to be impacting game play. ... Saturday Night Live's Rachel Dratch is a real Debbie Downer on ABC's The Middle (8/7c) as Brick's new middle-school principal, who informs Frankie and Mike that their oddball son hasn't attended a single class. And for those fearing Charlie McDermott's Axl would have a reduced role since leaving for college, this week's episode fixes that, as he starts spending nights back at home to avoid his awful dorm-mate. ... In "Megastorm Aftermath," PBS's Nova (check tvguide.com listings) revisits last year's cataclysmic super-storm Sandy, analyzing what made it so powerfully destructive and suggesting how communities might prepare for the next one. ... Let us pray that national TV exposure will not damage the reputation of six Preachers of L.A. (10/9c, Oxygen), mega-pastors who hope to spread their gospel through the pulpit of reality TV. ... The motivation is much more mercenary for the six women serving up drinks in MTV's classy-sounding Big Tips Texas (10/9c). ... The fact that Cartman is on the rampage in a South Park episode titled "World War Zimmerman" (10/9c, Comedy Central) should make us all very afraid.
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