Reviving THE TOMORROW PEOPLE for the computer-age kids of the early 1990s was always going to be a risky undertaking. Exhuming old franchises like DOCTOR WHO can work because the series is so well-known, quite literally a British institution and its return was bound to attract a lot of attention as well as, thankfully, a substantial audience. But the producers of the new, glitzy 1990s TOMORROW PEOPLE didn? have such luxuries. Touted as ITV? answer to DOCTOR WHO back in the 1970s, the original show was kid? TV through and through and when it ended it lived on only in the memories of the kids who saw it at the time and eventually grew out of it. The new series, aimed entirely at a modern audience of kids, couldn? trade on the history of the show because it would mean nothing to its new young audience. So the rebooted TOMORROW PEOPLE, which ran for twenty-five episodes over three seasons, bore little or no resemblance to its under-funded predecessor and, the odd scripted in-joke aside, existed entirely as a brand new series completely unconnected with the series which had ended some thirteen years earlier.

THE TOMORROW PEOPLE 1990s-style isn? bad. It has flashy visuals, a budget big enough to accommodate a lot of location filming and some eyebrow-raising guest stars ?Christopher Lee, Connie Booth, Jean Marsh ?but it never really works. It never really captures the imagination in the way the old show did ?or maybe that? just because I? now far too old to dream of the day when homo superior, with all their attendant super-powers, emerge as the next stage of human evolution. The original series, almost totally scripted by creator Roger Price, was always resolutely kid? stuff too and there was always a comedic edge to the stories. But here the problems are more pronounced; the stories are broad and the acting is broader. Comedy characters are underscored by unsubtle comical music and some of the bad guys (?onsoon Man? seem to have stepped right out of some provincial pantomime. There? a decent mix of stories across the five adventures. The first series, the untitled five part ?rigin?story, is the only contribution by Price to the new series and it has to be said that it? all over the place, clearly being made up as it? written. Series two, with popular 1990s ITV kid? drama writers Drathro and Pressman on board, has a tidier narrative but the scripts are still too overwrought and, at five episodes, the two stories are just too long. ?he Culex Experiment?is the better of the two, with Jean Marsh as a Grade A mad scientist (all boggling eyes and lunatic laughter) creating a race of deadly killer mosquitos. ?onsoon Man?is rubbish, a lightweight tale about a wheat manufacturer trying to control the earth? weather for his own financial gain. Series three is the best of the bunch with ?he Rameses Connection?seeing the Tomorrow People contacting a long-dead pharaoah, himself an early TP and ?he Living Stones? the best of the whole bunch, which sees the group? first (and sadly, only) encounter with alien species in a story which has shades of DOCTOR WHO? 1970 Jon Pertwee serial ?pearhead from Space?as well as any number of INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS-type movies. But amongst the comedy gurning and agonising action there are some genuine scares and some decent FX.

The new TP cast are a thoroughly modern bunch with none of the prissy pretentions or comfy cardigans of their 1970s counterparts. Former NEIGHBOURS heart-throb Kristin Schmidt plays Adam, the erstwhile leader of the new group and he? assisted during the show? run by a bunch of others including Megabyte (hey, this is the 1990s and kids know all about computers!), Kevin Wilson (Pearce ?a Godawful actor) and Amy (Naomi Harris, a fine actress who? gone on to carve out a bit of a name for herself in movies such as 28 DAYS LATER). They?e a forgettable, interchangeable bunch and it? hard not to yearn for the sensible face of John in the original series or the downright incompetence of Stephen or any of the other young lads who trailed through the six years of the 1970s series.

There? much more older fans can yearn for too. There? no underground lab (the new TPs hang out in the wreckage of an alien spaceship on a desert island), there? no TIM the biotronic computer (although Phillip Gilbert was contracted to reprise the role until the decision was taken to sever all ties with the old show) and there? not really much sense of a ?ew?breed of superior humans out to show the rest of us what a hash we?e made of things. There? no ?aunting? either, at least not in name (the new TPs teleport by a new jangly special effect which actually looks quite dated by 21st century standards) and the episodes are enlivened by lots of other jazzy, then state-of-the-art computer effects.

THE TOMORROW PEOPLE 1990s was axed after the third season ?presumably for reasons of cost. It? a shame because, whilst it was never going to have the impact it had in the 1970s, it was finding its feet by the end of its third year and further series could at least have seen it really hitting its stride. Ultimately though, the series tends to show that maybe leaving some ideas buried in the past may be for the best.

THE DISCS: A neatly-boxed five-disc set houses all five stories. Picture is a bit grainy but decent enough and, whilst there are no salacious commentaries a la the old series?DVDs, there? some interesting text stuff and some curious silent behind-the-scenes footage posing as ?aking of?documentaries.

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