The CW launches a new sci-fi series tonight when "Star-Crossed" takes over its 8 p.m. timeslot with a drama that is part Romeo & Juliet, and a lot about tolerance, with images that heavy handedly are reminders of integration in Southern schools in the '60s.
"Star-Crossed" begins when an alien spaceship crash lands on earth. The immediate assumption is the Atrians have come to earth to conquer the planet, so the army goes on the defense, hunting down and killing the perceived new foe. Those that are captured are put in an internment camp, known as The Sector, where they remain for the better part of a decade.
Emery Whitehill (a now brunette Aimee Teegarden, "Friday Night Lights") is just 6 years old when the Atrians, who came to earth because their planet was dying, arrive and doesn't have a clue what the grownups are up to, but when she discovers a similarly aged Atrian boy, she hides him -- until he is discovered and shot.
Flash forward to 10 years later when Marshall High Scholl is being integrated to a great deal of resistance by both the students and parents. You would think after 10 years, some sort of understanding between the earth folk and the aliens would have been reached, but that is not the case -- despite the fact that the only difference in appearance between the two races is that Atrian's have tattoos on their faces. The fact that they have two hearts is another matter entirely -- and one that was just briefly touched on.
High school in the future is very much like today with the requisite popular girls, jocks, stoners, and bullies, but to its credit, "Star-Crossed" features bullies on both sides of the planetary divide. It is here that Emery, who has been out of school for four years with some form of cancer, again shows her tolerance and befriends Roman [Matt Lanter, "90210"], who turns out to be the very same Atrian boy she saved as a child.
The human feeling that the Atrians are savages, is very much returned, which, of course, leads to a showdown, which is cut short by the cops. But as Emery is helping Roman escape, she gets an emergency phone call, which causes Roman to take an action with dire consequences.
Of course, as this is The CW, so both the majority of the human and Atrian high school students are overly attractive with great bone structure and hair. Just as the beast on "Beauty and the Beast" is a hot guy with a not-so-horrible scar, it leaves one wondering, if no one had seen the space ship land, it seems as if the Atrians wouldn't have had such a difficult time assimilating.
And, while the clothing in 10 years hasn't changed much, the technology has advanced. Lockers are accessed by fingerprint, as opposed to a combination lock, talking computers dispense meals in the cafeteria, and cell phones are see-through plastic devices, although there does seem to still be the occasional textbook.
The pilot episode of "Star-Crossed" presents some interesting possibilities, but the future of the show -- for me, at least, to keep watching -- will depend on how much they depend on the star-crossed lovers aspect, as opposed to telling relevant stories about persecution and man's seeming innate fear of anyone who is different. That's where the significant stories could be told to educate a generation that doesn't have knowledge of the struggles of the '60s.