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Fall TV Preview: Checking in with the Cast and Creators of 'The Tomorrow People'

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At the PaleyFest Previews last week, LAist caught an advanced screening of a promising show on the CW: The Tomorrow People, a re-boot of a children’s British sci-fi series from the 1970s. Starring relative newcomer Robbie Amell (whose cousin is Stephen Amell, star of the CW's Arrow), the show follows a group of young people (aka The Tomorrow People), who are emerging as the next stage in human evolution.

As the pilot opens, high schooler Stephen Jameson (Amell) is undergoing psychological treatment because he and his mother think he’s nearing a psychotic break. There are inexplicable things happening to Stephen, which we—and he—later find out are nascent powers like teleportation and telekinesis.

Amell originally tried out for another role on the series, John, but he told us at the PaleyFest that Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television, intervened. “[Roth] said, ‘I like him for John, but I like him even more for Stephen,’” Amell recounted. The young actor came back in and read for the part he eventually won. “Stephen was the character that I related more to, and I think that Luke [Mitchell] is the better choice for John. I think he’s incredible.”

For his character, Amell looked to Donnie Darko and Chronicle for inspiration.

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“I really love the movie Chronicle. I don’t think the characters are too alike, but I think Dane DeHaan was incredible...I really like the things he did, playing the severity of the situation that he was living in and finding out about these powers.'

There are are similarities to X-Men: First Class, with the Tomorrow People being hunted by a paramilitary group of scientists known as Ultra, led by Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino). The audience is left unsure of Price’s true intentions and whether he’s the true antagonist of the series. That complexity of the character appealed to Pellegrino, who's easily recognizable from his roles in Lost and Supernatural, among many others.

“I think the role of Jedekiah is a pretty amazing part. It’s complicated, it’s deep, it’s somebody with a big world view. Being the possible antagonist brings about the heroic characteristics of the other characters—that’s a very powerful selling point," said Pellegrino.

“For me, Jedikiah is a combination of an academic and a politician...it’s the best of, and worst of, what a great leader would be.”

We're thinking that The Tomorrow People has a chance to break through a crowded field of new shows this season because it has a great team behind the scenes: Greg Berlanti (Arrow, Brothers and Sisters, Everwood), Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, Kyle XY), Danny Cannon (CSI, Nikita) and Phil Klemmer (Chuck, Political Animals) are among its executive producers.

Many of the show's producers were fans of the original British series, but they’re keeping the show from getting too mired in science fiction. “What we try to do is keep it grounded in a human reality,” said Plec, “And then layer the sci-fi elements within that. So yes, they’re gloriously teleporting and telepathically doing amazing things.

“We never let it, take away from what is ultimately at its core, a story about a kid who’s trying to figure out who he is and where his loyalties lie.”

The Tomorrow People debuts on the CW on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 9 pm (8 central)