International Bon Vivant and Raconteur (nick_kaufmann) wrote,
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

The Tomorrow People

Thanks to the magic of DVD and bumping things to the top of your Netflix queue, I've been watching episodes from the first two seasons of the 1970s British science fiction show The Tomorrow People. Back in the early 1980s, Nickelodeon used to show it at six in the morning, and I remember waking up early before school so I could watch it. The groovy theme music and iconic imagery of the opening credits, especially the slowly unfolding fist, stuck with me ever since.

Turns out it's, um, not as good as I remember.

In 1973, when Doctor Who ruled the British science fiction airwaves, The Tomorrow People was ITV's grab at the same demographic -- but really, really cheaply. (Seriously, the show makes Doctor Who look like it had a James Cameron-sized budget. The evil robot in the first episode is quite literally made of carboard boxes painted silver.) The show is about a bunch of teenagers who are the next step in human evolution: Homo Superior. They don't like calling themselves that, though, so they call themselves the Tomorrow People instead, which sounds even sillier but doesn't have that stench of elitism. And we all know how much Britain hates elitism!

Anyway, they have abilities -- which they constantly refer to as their "special powers," even when they're only talking to each other -- that they use to save the Earth from extraterrestrial threats. The three Ts: telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation, which they call "jaunting," presumably because they've all read Alfred Bester. They also have a biotronic supercomputer in the ceiling of their secret headquarters with the super-retro-futuristic name of...Tim.

Tim doesn't seem to stand for anything, like it would if its name was T.I.M. No, their supercomputer is simply named...Tim. And it's a stickler for manners. Forget to say please when asking Tim to open a door for you and you're likely to break your nose walking into it. It's a good thing they didn't give Tim a death ray.

The head-shakingly amazing thing about The Tomorrow People is not that its science fiction is so sloppy (in one episode, they have to put everyone on the planet to sleep at the same time in order to save the world), but that the show actually had a real-life scientific advisor, Dr. Christopher Evans ("Sure, putting everyone on the planet to sleep at once sounds fine, it's not like anyone's piloting any airplanes or speeding down a highway anywhere on Earth!").

There is a strange sort of nostalgic fun, though, in watching these kids run around in bellbottoms, wide-collar shirts, white turtleneck sweaters and Beatles haircuts while fighting aliens built from the cheapest possible effects. And for that reason alone, I can't wait for future seasons to be released on DVD (the show ran for an astounding six years). Ah, British 1970s science fiction, you're my secret love...


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