I feel like this post should open with about a dozen disclaimers, prefaces, and warnings. It’s a different sort of post for us, and because there’s going to be some honest opinions expressed about TV shows, I’m bound to offend someone. But why waste time explaining myself when I can just dive in and confuse and anger people, right?
So, let’s talk about The 100, yet another CW show that has drawn me into its web. Yep. I already watched four CW shows before diving into this one over the weekend, and when I say “dive in,” I mean between Friday after work and going to bed Sunday night, we watched all thirteen episodes of Season 1 and the first seven episodes of Season 2. CW shows are somehow like crack to me.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s a post-apocalyptic story that doesn’t especially break any new ground in the genre, but does a pretty darn good job with the well-worn tropes and story beats. Our tale takes place 97 years after a nuclear war left the world uninhabitable, or so the survivors on international space stations believe. These folks brought together all of the various space stations to form the Ark, and their long-term goal is to make it back to earth, once the radiation levels are low enough. But it turns out the Ark’s life support isn’t going to last as long as they thought with the number of people aboard. So they decide to do what any sensible people would do–prematurely send 100 juvenile prisoners back to earth to see if maybe they can live down there already after all. (Why juvenile prisoners? There are no adult prisoners. If you’re over 18 and commit a crime, you’re “floated” out the airlock.)
Turns out that not only is earth habitable, but inhabited. Our criminal teens run into primitive Grounders, who seem to be managing pretty well. Except for the Reapers, completely insane men with a thirst for violence and blood. Oh, and, there just might be some more folks lurking, but I don’t want to give everything away.
Does any of this sound familiar? Sure. The Reapers are so reminiscent of Reavers from Firefly/Serenity, J and I threw out more than one quote, being the good Browncoats we are. And there’s a strong Hunger Games vibe happening all over the place. And, of course, Joss Whedon and Suzanne Collins had their own inspirations, and so on, and so forth. But what I really keep coming back to while watching The 100 is Battlestar Galactica.
I think the first show J and I ever devoured together was BSG, slamming the first 2 seasons in pretty much record time. And those first two seasons hold their own against any two seasons of any other show I’ve ever watched. The last two seasons, well, now isn’t the time. Actually, it might be a little bit, because what made BSG classier but less fun than The 100 is exacerbated in the final two seasons. BSG began with a fantastic premise, executed with stellar writing and plotting featuring a talented central cast. And the look. It still looks so good, which always played a big part in what made it a far classier show than the SciFi Channel had any right to manage.
But what makes it less fun is also what at first drew so many people to the show. It didn’t flinch from the big questions and actions had consequences. Well, until the show started doing nothing but looking at the big questions while certain characters developed plot armor, and consequences no longer applied to them. (Yeah, Helo, I mean you.)
But so far The 100 is balancing these same aspects nicely, and occasionally slipping in some humor. Should some people be sacrificed to save more lives? Who should live? Do committing certain acts mean you no longer deserve to survive? All of these were tackled on BSG, but The 100 incorporates them into the story without dwelling on them and making them the story. Now, some viewers will surely prefer their scifi to be about Important Questions, but I like the way The 100 integrates soapy storylines much better than BSG ever did. Additionally, The 100 looks at the issues and forces consequences on characters without bring everything else to a halt. In fact, I’m pretty sure that fast pacing and refusal to belabor any plot point is the CW’s specific brand of crack, and I’ll hit that pipe every time.
And having now completely caught up with The 100, I need to go weep quietly because the show insists even characters I love suffer when they do bad things. The most recent few eps were a little less fun and a bit more sad, but I still appreciate the fact the show doesn’t allow that to come across as taking itself too seriously.