DO you ever wonder what it would be like to see a frat party of beautiful people living out a dystopian nightmare?
This pondering of putting the beautiful people into a myriad of painful situations is nothing new in media, and if anything, is how people try to market products and expand interest. After all, a section of The Hunger Games movies fanbase is more interested in Peeta and Gale battling for Katniss Everdeen’s heart, even if this is a very tertiary plot line behind political revolution and the titular games where 23 teenagers are killed.
At first glance, elements of new drama The 100 come across as a party of the young and beautiful after the end of the world. This is hardly helped by the first moments of the pilot, when the convoy of the 100 mentioned in the title crash land on Earth and celebrate the fact Earth is not poisonously radioactive with cheerful dancing and screaming while – very unsubtly – Imagine Dragons’ hit Radioactive booms out of the speakers. In this world, the first words humanity has spoke on Earth in a century or so is the phrase “We’re back, bitches”, as if to say humanity had been on a quick run to the supermarket for beer and condoms rather than a desperate escape for survival.
Based on a critically acclaimed novel, the premise of teen sci-fi drama The 100 is fairly sound. Set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse has destroyed civilisation on Earth, the surviving humans live on a totalitarian but dying space station orbiting the planet. Crimes of all kinds are punishable by being ejected from the station into space, except for crimes committed by those under 18, who are kept in a prison.
But one day, the rulers of the space station decide that the 100 under 18 criminals on the ark are to be used for an experiment. They are duly sent in the spaceship down to the surface of Earth, where their mission is to check it out and see if Earth is now habitable.
The plan is to base the 100 out of a safezone located on the ruins of an army base at Mount Weather in the ruins of the American state of Virginia, but a spaceship error means they crash land in the wrong place, and have to go through a mutated forest full of 2-headed deer, glowing trees and the like to get there.
This is before incorporating the fact two of them mucked around so much that they died on the way down to the ground, or that communications with their elders are down, or that when they get there, the bulk of the 100 decide that rather than dealing with the important stuff like food, supplies and communication with their parents and government on the space station, its time for a party.
The 100 they sent down are indeed mostly filled with criminals, and decide they don’t want to be fulfilling the brief set for them by the government in the skies above. Not all of them are, though, with a small five-piece group setting about finding their supplies, led by Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), Bellamy Blake (Bobby Morley) and his sister Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos).
Their mission in the pilot is simply walk towards the site and see what you find, which for some reason involves Octavia stripping to her underwear and jumping into the ocean, before she has a fight with a mutated sea creature, like in Piranha 3DD.
There is a sci-fi Lord of the Flies tone to this, in that the youngsters are abandoned in a strange world and see some being more serious about their predicament than others. But the adults do have the more interestingly totalitarian storyline, with things like population culling, scarce resources and the like.
But its an uneven split in some ways between the adults dicing with humanity’s future and the 100 criminals down below already moving away from their brief.
That’s not say there’s nothing to have encouragement in this pilot, and there is undoubtedly stuff that will provide potential for an improved series ahead of the next episodes. Any improvement will most likely come the further it explores its apocalyptic tone both on the surface, and in orbit. But its world needs to deliver a more satisfying pay-off than what its pilot generated.
At early glance its a puzzling programme that needs to make more of its subject matter, but right now, feels oddly unsatisfactory at doing so.
Maybe it will improve when its beautiful people on the surface are subjected to more trouble than a walk through a slightly radioactive forest.