When you’re hungry, just about anything tastes like filet mignon, and when it comes to good sci-fi shows on TV, I was famished. And so with starvation as my motivator, I checked out The 100, a show that is not only clearly trying to tap into the latest YA craze, but also has all the trappings of a typical teen-centric series on The CW. So yes, there are lots of attractive people – who somehow stay attractive no matter how much dirt they have strategically dabbed onto their faces – having adventures to a contemporary music soundtrack, while a bunch of them make googly eyes at each other.
Because of all of that, when I suddenly found myself enjoying the show quite a bit, I told myself that it must just be my grumbling stomach overriding my taste. But the more I watched, the more I enjoyed, as the show actually turned out to be quite a sci-fi thrill ride.
So what is it about? 97 years after a vast nuclear war rendered the planet unsafe, the last vestiges of mankind struggle for survival on the Ark, a structure made up from the hodge-podge collection of space stations from various nations, who happened to be orbiting the Earth when disaster struck. A new human society has emerged on the Ark, but as the once-meager population kept increasing, resources dwindled, forcing the creation of an extremely strict law that any crime – no matter the severity – is punishable by death. The only exemptions are criminals under the age of 18, who are kept locked in a prison.
But when the Ark’s life support systems are discovered to be failing far quicker than expected, 100 of the juvenile prisoners – deemed expendable – are secretly jettisoned down to the surface of Earth by the ruling council in a two-fold desperate attempt to buy the Ark more time, and to test if the planet has become habitable again.
As the group of youngsters soon find out though, not only is the planet habitable again, but it is already inhabited and the locals are not too friendly. But as members of the 100 get to go all Lord of the Flies – just with more teenage partying, boozing and Imagine Dragons soundtracks – this dangerous discovery is overlooked all for a bit of freedom. Soon factions form as some want to keep the Ark in the dark about what they’ve found while others just want to see their families again, while up on the Ark tensions also bubble over as people discover their kids have been used as guinea pigs, apparently all for nothing.
That’s just the first episode or so, and as you can see there is a lot of story potential there. What really got me to keep watching though was just how much the show was willing to get its hands dirty. People die – a lot – in horrifically unexpected ways, the show’s heroes – led by “princess” Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) – turn out to have completely nasty sides to them, and often the story and characters get shockingly dark. Yes, every once in a while they take a break from all this surprisingly unflinching character drama just to get all cheesy romantic and have an excuse to show beautiful people jumping each other’s beautiful bones – which may actually be a plus to some of you – and there of course the occasional moments of “logic be damned, I’m doing this for the drama!”, but look past all that and you find some real strong entertainment here.
The show’s cast is led by the aforementioned Taylor and rounded out by a number of young actors/actresses like Bobby Morley and Thomas McDonell, but also some small screen veterans like Henry Ian Cusick (Lost) and Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), and while none of them will be challenging the Bryan Cranstons and Matthew McConaugheys of the TV awards scenes anytime soon, they all do solid work. Much like the rest of the show’s production actually, as it doesn’t get too obviously green-screen, as these types of shows often do, when it shows off either the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Earth or the dilapidated steel and glass environs of the Ark.
Internationally, the show’s 13-episode first season just concluded recently, and it’s already been renewed for a second season. Locally it’s airing on DSTV’s Channel 113, Wednesdays at 20:00, and is currently up to episode 3.
Last Updated: June 24, 2014