US tv sci fi series are some sort of a marvel. They often appear and disappear without big noise. Which was the case with lots of them in the past years. The last example was ALMOST HUMAN, a very expensive science fiction crime drama that didn’t survive the first season, despite some very good stories and a cast that rocked. But something went wrong, so it wasn’t renewed. Pity.
When „The 100“ a post-apocalyptic tv series made a debut on German iTunes store I was sure, they wouldn’t survive a first season either, but I was wrong.
„The story is set 97 years after a big nuclear war wiped out almost all life on Earth. The only survivors were the residents of twelve space stations in Earth orbit prior to the war (…)“ so wikipedias intro to the series.
Well, in fact, the first episode wasn’t too promising (as was the first episode of ALMOST HUMAN), so I was a bit annoyed, when I watched it. Some kids (100) were sent to the Earth as a sentence of their crimes. The alternative would have been the good old airlock and getting spaced. They don’t know that they are guinea pigs to show if Earth was habitable again. Their living functions were monitored from the orbit, because they had to wear sensoric bracelets.
So far, so boring. It was the expected story: landing on Earth, something went wrong, the kids are a heterogenous group with severe criminals and light criminals and everthing is messed up because there is always one Cain and of course lots of Abels (and Evas and Adams). And sure there are dangers they couldn’t even dream of.
But with the ongeoing episodes the story evolves quickly. And it evolves to a very interesting setting. The protoganists are painted in very vivid colors, the introduction of the „Grounders“, survivors of the great war, is interesting and violent and episode for episode the audience is more and more absorbed in this apocalyptic setting in the woods of the Rocky Mountains. It all resembles a bit of „Lord of the Flies“, which isn’t a bad idea. The brutality of the kids also develops and civilisation is forgotten faster than you can take a deep breath.
Meanwhile the inhabitants of the orbital station „The Ark“ are facing their biggest challenge: they are running out of air, food and nearly everything to survive. And: they monitor the „death“ of one kid after another …
Well to be fair: this all doesn’t sound so exciting, but in reality the two story lines, Earth vs orbit are very breathtaking and clever. Here „Lord of the Flies“, there „Odysee 2001“ (well not so clean and white and without HAL!).
The first season has 13 episodes and after episode 4 you should be as hooked as I was. The makers of the series don’t make prisoners. Nobody is secure and everybody can be killed in the next instant. The pace is fast, especially the two part season finale and – and this is new: the setting for the next season is prepared very intelligent. No lose story lines so if the series would have stopped with season one it would have been annoying but not the end of the world. The cliffhanger is clever.
So this series has an opportunity Firefly never got. Firefly just had a too boring start and introduction despite the marvellous development of the series towards the end. But at that stadium the normal non-geek audience had stopped watching. The same fate this series could have faced, but the pace is getting very fast after episode 4.
So would I recommend it? Yes. It’s a very good series that despite the boring start shows a very fair potential. I’m hooked and really looking forward to season 2.
Ah, one more thing: don’t watch it in German. Watch the original. I can’t recommend any dubbings in the last 5 years including Mad Men, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Homeland, Sherlock (BBC) or Orphan Black.