Friday, 21 March 2014

Nothing ruins a relationship like communication

The CW's The 100 has a great high-concept premise: 97 years after a nuclear holocaust, the inhabitants of a space station in Earth orbit send 100 criminals to the surface with a mission to prepare for the remaining colonists, but in-fighting, mutant wildlife and holocaust survivors threaten to wipe out those on the surface, while political backbiting and a failing life support system threaten to wipe out those in orbit.
It's a great premise for a show, combining Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, Battle Royale - in fact every example cited in the first panel of last Saturday's strip as a joke - as well as a dash of pulpy b-movie trash alongside the more literary influences, such as Defcon 4, No Escape and After Earth.
The problem is that it's a show on The CW, and that means if at any point you engage the part of your brain concerned with the process of logical thought instead of the part of your brain that likes to look at attractive young twentysomethings struggling not to rut right there on the spot, it kind of falls apart pretty quickly, like the idea of all crimes on the space station being punishable by death unless you're under 18, which means that all the criminals - even the ones stripping down to their underwear that you're supposed to perv over - are kids, which puts an uncomfortable slant on the exploitative material in the script like aforementioned stripping scene and when characters get brutally killed, and we must also assume that some of the other criminals we haven't seen yet are much younger than the 20-something-playing-17-and-11-months of the main cast.  Likewise the blanket nature of the all-crimes-punishable-by-death mandate goes against the very idea of creating both a sustainable population and a viable genetic pool for future generations, which is a bit of a balancing act in the best of circumstances, never mind if all you have to start with is the limited genetic database of those in orbit when the war broke out, which is at best a couple of dozen people and not nearly enough to restart the human race even if you can surmount the problem of the human reproductive system being entirely dependent upon gravity to function - add to this the arbitrary execution of members of the populace and firing hundreds of your kids at irradiated planets every now and then to see what happens and I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that this is not a group of people that would last very long.  Anyone who's worked with super-smart people can tell you that they're often remarkably shit-brained when it comes to things most people take for granted, so what if they accidentally break a minor law and you end up having to flush the only guy who can work the space-engines out the airlock?
On top of the basic illogic of the premise itself, there's some plotting problems in the pilot, like one character saying he deliberately got himself arrested to be put on the shuttle to Earth, yet mere minutes later we see an angry mob on the station wanting to know what the launch of a shuttle was all about because no-one knows about it, characters getting off the shuttle and deciding they don't need food or water but instead need to have an orgy and take orders from the biggest douchebag in the group rather than the smartest or strongest, the fact that no-one is told they're going to Earth and is just bundled into a ship and fired to the surface in the middle of the night without any training or any guards or any scientists or engineers...
Well, you get the picture, it doesn't make any actual thinking-type sense, but it does have attractive twentysomething actors in Gap clothing wandering around an attractive forest deciding when to have a shag, mutant wildlife, spear-chucking natives, and reasonably decent cgi work.  It's not a classic, and lord knows it certainly isn't original, but if you like trashy b-movie sci-fi it's worth a punt.

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