Young Adult movies are all the rage at the moment. Some movies already have hit cinemas, others have yet to come. But in the middle of all the Spectacular Nows, Hunger Games and Faults in Stars, there’s a TV show called «The 100», based on a book for Young Adults. So with one book under its belt, can it make for an entire season of TV?
The book we’ll look at next week, this time around, we’ll look at the TV show. It fulfils all the criteria we are used to from Young Adults. The story goes like so:
Ninety-Seven years ago, humanity finally got too stupid for itself and they managed to annihilate civilization in a massive nuclear war. However, there was still time for people to save themselves by evacuating onto the space stations that surrounded Earth at the time. The last remnants of humanity managed to cobble together all these space stations, forming one big one simply named «The Ark». The biblical undertones here seem to be coincidential and appear to be there for show only up until now.
Today, this last remnant of humanity has strict laws. If you break any of the laws, you get executed. If you’re under 18 and you violate any law, you’re confined until your eighteenth birthday and then you’re getting a retrial. Depending on the outcome of the retrial, it’s either death or liberty. They do this because not only does the plot demand for some sort of evil government thing to be there but also because everything on The Ark is precious. Water, oxygen, food… everything.
However, there’s a neat little thing the Arcadians can do: travel to Earth. Because it’s been 97 years, right? How bad can it be? Thus, a decision is made. One hundred juvenile delinquents are crammed into a dropship and sent to Earth. Either they’re fine and prove that the Earth is inhabitable once more or they all die.
Among those 100, there’s a daughter of the medics on The Ark, so she knows medicine. There’s a guy who knows all sorts of things about Earth, because of dramatic convenience. And that’s where the series’ greatest weakness reveals itself: Too much is just dramatically convenient. Because if we look at these characters closely, then we realize that neither they nor their parents – all in their mid-40s to mid-50s – have ever set foot on Earth. So there’s no possible way for one of them to know how to hunt. Because on The Ark, there is nothing to hunt let alone the space.
Other than that, the series is actually pretty good. It’s got a definite «Lord of the Flies»-vibe going on. There are a bunch of young people who need to create some sort of society in a savage environment. So this brings out the worst in people, especially if all of them are convicts. Granted, the crimes are never mentioned, but the point is that these people are not necessarily humanity’s brightest and shiniest.
What makes matters worse and adds mystery to the plot is that there are people called «Grounders», humanoid creatures who live on Earth who have no love for the 100 to the point where some Grounders kill some of our landing party. There are also mutated deer and some sort of snake alligator monster in the water that leaves surprisingly tiny bite marks.
Meanwhile, up in space, the people are also dying because after a hundred years of working nonstop with nothing coming to repair, upgrade or otherwise fix anything, The Arc’s systems are failing. This leads to there being some more tension, seeing as the 100 on the ground are actually the only hope humanity has left. However, our ragtag band of convicts hasn’t been told this so they are preoccupied with the usual young-adult-stuff: Love, sex, growing up, taking responsibility.
Probably the best thing about this is, and you’ll read more of this next week, is that the series expands greatly on the universe and the characters themselves, thus making the best possible use of the format of a TV-show. The characters that the book doesn’t really expand on – mainly the adults and the governing people – get more characterisation and more than just a few glimpses at their function and some actions they had performed. There are also more characters than there are in the book, making the series more of an ensemble cast thing, even though our main point of identification is the character of Clarke who generally knows crucial things about a lot of things.
The expansion on the characters also makes for a lot more interesting storythreads. How does a society running out of life treat its weak? Or how do they go about making sure that as many people as possible make it to Earth, should that planet prove to be hospitable again.
What the TV show also does is create a goodlooking world. Okay, the sets they use on Earth could be any old forest that the people working on the show just so happened to pass on their way to work, but the dropships The 100 arrive in look old, beaten and generally not too functional. This look is also seen on The Ark. This creates a very cohesive picture of a society waiting for something to come along and make things better. Add to that the fact that there’s a lot of unknown actors in it. The most known face in it is probably Henry Ian Cusick, known as Desmond Hume from Lost.
Airing right after Arrow, The 100 has a lot to live up to. And while it doesn’t quite do that, it does manage to hold its own. It’s also not too late to start watching as only a handful of episodes have aired. So go get to it. It’s solid entertainment.
And, as usual, here’s a trailer for you to enjoy: