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CW’s ‘The 100’ promises much juvenile action and good story

Promotion poster for The CW's new series, "The 100".
Promotion poster for The CW's new series, "The 100". CW

CW Channel 31 was nice enough to allow attendees of last weekend’s Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con a sneak peek at “The 100”, the TV network’s new science fiction series that premieres next week. Yours truly is pleased to say he was among those attendees. In a time of box office success of “The Hunger Games” and the not so successful but promotional-hyped “Ender’s Game” movie, the debut of executive producer Matthew Miller's “The 100” may just be perfect timing for a television audience. The first episode, which screened at the con, is a great introduction to the series and promises great plot and plenty of action and drama for both a youth and adult audience.

The plot to “The 100” speculates on potential issues of a future Earth that has been abandoned by humans for nearly a hundred years. A group of one hundred (hence the series’ title) juvenile delinquents of an orbiting space station, the Ark, that has been home for Earth’s descendants for almost one hundred years, are sent to the planet as lab rats to test its inhabitability after it had been infested with radiation. The exiles must live and work together to survive the natural landscape much of which is occupied by creatures mutated from the radiation.

The conflict isn’t just with the earth’s creatures, however. Perhaps even worse, it’s also among the teens. The team discovers that they had been exiled to a part of the earth that’s food source may not be edible and so they must subdivide into a second expedition to make a several days’ journey to an area believed to hold edible sources. The question of who will consists of this sub expedition results in a class struggle between the Ark’s upper class adolescents represented by Wells Jaha (Eli Goree), whose father is Chancellor (Isaiah Washington), and one of the lower class citizens who starts a fist fight with him. The petty brawl turns into a rebellion on the lower class teens’ part when they propose to take off their electronic wrist bands that the administration monitors them through. If the rebels were to take off the bands they will be taken for dead leading the adults in orbit to believe the planet not inhabitable.

The series isn’t merely a market for the “Hunger Games” generation. Meanwhile, on board the Ark, there is conflict among the adults, that, like with the teens, reflects the struggle with the harsh laws of the space station in which breaking any one of them is punishable by imprisonment for minors and execution for adults regardless the degree of the crime. Councillor Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco), mother to one of the exiles (Eliza Taylor), goes against one of these laws in order to save the Chancellor from dying and so the conflict is one of humanitarianism versus cold legalism, the latter most represented by the Chancellor’s puritanical (secularly speaking) vice chancellor, Kane (Henry Ian Cusick).

“The 100” offers plenty of action, suspense and character interaction and development. The intimacy of the teens comes out in both their companionship and conflicts with each other and so we care about them and see both their good and bad points. The cinematography is done very well especially with the Earth’s landscape. This creates the sensation of the planet’s vastness, creating a theme of new frontier, and so conveys a sense of hope in starting a new life--a kind of neo pioneerism. Besides “Hunger Games” and “Ender’s Game”, the series also reflects elements of “The Lord of the Flies” book and movie adaptations and even “Lost”. But even though the desperate situation of the humans’ attempt to return to their home world is believable, the root of that believability being a radiation-polluted planet, the reason for the Ark’s tyrranical penal system has yet to be explained. Hopefully that explanation will unfold, like some of the kids’ cause for their former incarceration in the debut episode, as the series continues.

“The 100” premieres Wednesday March 19 on the CW network, Channel 31 in Sacramento, 8 p.m. Central time (9 p.m. Pacific). Please check your local listings for more details.

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