Following up their release of the first two seasons, A&E has released
seasons 3-5 of The Tomorrow People on DVD. In the spirit of
Dr. Who, this series aimed at children and young teens has a lot
of galactic spanning adventure and alien invasions, all on a small budget.
Unfortunately the show hasn't aged that well, and the acting and scripts
leave something to be desired.
With the ability to read minds, levitate object, and teleport themselves,
the Tomorrow People are the next stage in human evolution. Led by
the serious and stoic John, the group also consists of the 'average Joe'
Stephen and sensible Elizabeth. These three youths live in their
secret base in an unused subway tunnel in London and are mentored by the
supercomputer Tim. Together they protect the world from alien invasion,
shape-shifting robots, travel through time, and basically have a lot of
This show was ITV's answer to Dr. Who, and it shares a lot of
the good doctor's trappings: multi-episode storylines, cliff-hanging endings,
and super-intelligence winning out over brute force. However
The Tomorrow People doesn't have the same charm that Dr. Who has
and comes across as a cheesy substitute.
Being a fan of many British television series, I have learned to look
past the cheap sets and below par special effects. The British are
actually able to do quite a lot with a very limited budget, and they've
created several classic shows without spending a lot of cash. The
one thing that the successful shows have in common are good acting and
well thought out scripts, areas where this show is lacking.
Many actors in British TV shows have spent years on the stage and have
honed their talents to perfection. That's one reason why so many
of their costume dramas end up appearing on PBS in America. With
this show however, the teen stars barely do a passable job. They
often sound like they are reciting memorized lines instead of actually
talking to someone, and their movements don't seem natural. More
like they are trying to hit their marks than actually walk across a room.
This made it very hard to suspend my disbelief and hurt the show a great
The writing wasn't top notch either. While some of the plots were
interesting, there were holes in several of the shows that made it hard
to get into the program. For instance, in Worlds Away, the
Galactic Federation needs someone to travel to Pyrie and destroy a device
that damps psychic powers. Do they send a team of crack Marines?
Find a race whose powers are not effected by the device? No they,
in their great wisdom, decide to send a group of Earth teens since they
haven't had their psychic powers for too long, so they won't miss them
as much. Huh? Run that by me again.
That's not to say the program is horrible, it's just not that great.
Some of the stories are actually pretty good, such as the first one in
this set, Secret Weapon, where they discover another person who
is about to evolve or 'break out' into a tomorrow person, and have to fight
the military for him. Though the protagonist, Colonel Masters (Trevor
Bannister who is best known as Mr. Lucas from Are You Being Served?),
is definitely a bad guy, viewers can see his point of view. He doesn't
want to capture and train psychics for sadistic pleasure, he's worried
about the safety of his country. It was nice to see a believable
villain in the show.
The show also has a hard time mixing humor with the drama. Stories
are either all serious or else mainly played for laughs such as A Man
for Emily. In this story a group of aliens have stopped by Earth
for supplies, but they only know the Earth from the TV shows they've picked
up while in space, mainly westerns. Peter Davidson (Dr. Who, All
Things Great and Small) stars in this horrid story as Elmer, a hen
pecked man who is amazed to discover that men are not subservient to women
on Earth (apparently he didn't pick that up from the westerns he watched),
and wants to stay, while his wife, Emily, has set her sights on John.
The western accents that the aliens use are painful to listen to, and the
feeble attempts at humor are just embarrassing. This is easily the
worst story in this set.
This four disc set includes all 26 episodes from seasons 3-5 which encompass
nine complete stories. The DVDs come in four keepcases that are contained
in a thin board slipcase.
The two channel audio was about average. There wasn't a lot of
dynamic range, and sometimes the dialog sounded a little hollow.
The sound effects were sometimes mixed too high, and while it was a bit
annoying, that's not a flaw with the DVDs. There was a little
bit of tape hiss in the background, and a dropout of two, but these weren't
The full frame video wasn't that great I'm sorry to say. The image
was very soft with the lines being slightly blurry and the image being
slightly indistinct. The level of detail in the background was also
pretty poor. Just as bad were the digital defects. Aliasing
was prevalent throughout and parallel lines shimmered and moved with a
life of their own. This was quite distracting especially since a
lot of outfits have thin stripes that dance around whenever someone moves.
Cross coloration was another problem, with false colors appearing every
now and then. There was several sections that had a large amount
of edge enhancement. This set is still watchable, but it doesn't
look very good.
There is a commentary over the first story, the four part Secret
Weapon with Nicholas Young (John), Peter Vaughan Clarke (Stephen),
and Ann Curthoys (Tricia Conway) Hosted by Nick Brigs. They have
a good time reminiscing about the show and joke around about the mediocre
acting and special effects. You don't really learn a lot about the
filming of the program, but it was fun to listen to. In addition
there is The Origins of the Tomorrow People Part 2, a short text
piece on the show, and biographies of the main characters.
This teen-age fantasy (no parents or no authority, just a lot of amazing
adventures with cool powers) show hasn't really aged that well. (The
clothes that the main characters wear are laughable, though in fashion
at the time.) The acting is pretty bad, and the stories just aren't
that tight. While there are some stories that are fairly entertaining,
this set won't win over any converts. The video presentation left
a lot to be desired also. If you enjoyed the first set or are a long
time fan of the show, by all means pick it up. If you are just curious
though, this wouldn't make a good blind purchase. Rent it.