Review: On 'The 100,' the post-apocalypse is such a teen drama

Review: On 'The 100,' the post-apocalypse is such a teen drama
Eliza Taylor and Thomas McDonell star in "The 100." (Cate Cameron / CW)

"The 100" is a new TV series about teenagers living alone — or are they? — on a post-apocalyptic future Earth.

Wherever else we are, we are definitely on the CW, where, apart from reality shows, every series but "Hart of Dixie" either takes place in another time or features characters supernatural, superheroic and/or science-fictional. Some focus on characters, which is not necessarily to say actors, of high school age.


Premiering Wednesday, "The 100" is based on Kass Morgan's young-adult novel of the same name. One of the great discoveries of our age is that almost any awful situation can serve as a metaphor for adolescence and that everything is like high school.

The situation here is pretty bad. A century before the action begins, "a nuclear apocalypse killed everyone on Earth" — that is our narrator and highly responsible heroine, Clarke (Eliza Taylor), speaking. The only known survivors are descendants of people who were living on space stations at the time.

Twelve of these have been welded together — the stations, not the people — into the Ark, an orbiting metropolis overseen by Isaiah Washington. Henry Ian Cusick is around to stir up trouble in the name of good, while Paige Turco attempts to do good, which is seen as making trouble. They are all a little tedious and beside the point.

An interesting feature of life on the Ark is that, to conserve limited resources, all convicts are executed, except minors, who go to what might be called space juvie. One hundred such underage offenders — only a few seem like criminals, frankly — are one day packed back to Earth, supposedly to see how things are down here, radiation-wise. Supposedly.

They are fronted by a collection of the familiar types who might have been created in a Familiar Type contest. There is a good girl, a complicated girl (Marie Avgeropoulos, who is interesting), a good boy with a bad streak, a bad boy with a good streak, and a couple of techie nerds.

Given that they have, for instance, no food, a surprising amount of time will be devoted to who likes whom. There are some class issues, as in "Pretty in Pink." "Note to self," "I get it," "Seriously?" and "bitches" are words and phrases still in use.

Anyway, quicker than you can say "William Golding," they are lighting bonfires and beating on whatever will pass for a drum, and the only reason no one gets called Piggy is because they are every last one of them a hottie.

There are, to be sure, some suspenseful moments and effective sequences. (Homemade knives occasionally give it the air of a 1950s juvenile delinquent film.) There are luminous butterflies to marvel at and strange beasts to contend with, and maaaaybe there are some sort of human survivors.

The fate of the kids on the ground is closely bound with the fate of the people in orbit, and vice versa. But it is hard to care about the people in orbit, as seriously as you're asked to take their predicaments and sacrifices. And it is not much easier to care about the people on Earth.


'The 100'


Where: KTLA

When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

Rating: TV-PG-DLV (may be unsuitable for young children with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and violence)