steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

Back in the annus mirabilis 1973, whence all good things come, one of my favourite shows was The Tomorrow People. It was a bit like The Chrysalids but with aliens and SF technology, now and in England. What made it so attractive to me then (and still, in memory) wasn't the special powers, neat as they were, but the fact that those powers were latent, then awakening. The discovery section is a standard trope in superpower films of course (I can fly? Cool!), but it's usually rushed through so as to get on to the "main" action. But for me that was the heart of the thing - and since the Tomorrow People recruited new members fairly regularly it could be relived again and again. The adventures themselves, while I could see the necessity for them, were of far less interest. (One of the many amazing things about The Dark is Rising, published that same year, is the way Cooper manages to stretch discovery over the entire length of the book, making it coextensive with the adventure. ETA: See also The Chrysalids - the post-power-discovery adventure is the least memorable part of the book, almost tacked on. In all these cases it's important that the powers are always there in potentia and not the accidental result of an encounter with a radioactive spider or whatever.) The show's opening sequence is defined by the repeated opening hand, a potent symbol of revelation and self-discovery:

I wonder whether that hand isn't also a nod to Ace of Wands, a slightly earlier Thames production - but Tarot's palm is already open, he having attained enlightenment before we meet him.

Even now, just hearing the Thames jingle brings back something of the excitement of watching The Tomorrow People - though when I saw it again DVD a few years ago I had to admit that the rickety sets and British child acting (why are the Americans so much better in that area?) had done it no favours. I believe there was a remake in the '90s, but I didn't see it then. Now, though, it's been remade in the States, and is airing here on the 8th Jan on E4. Have they done it well, or will it just be - as I fear - a kind of Junior X Men? Can anybody tell me, before I allow US TV to trample on my cloth of dreams?
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