'The 100' review: Sci-fi worth watching

Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Thomas McDonell as Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Thomas McDonell as Finn in the pilot episode of The CW's "The 100." Photo Credit: The CW / Cate Cameron

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REVIEW

SERIES PREMIERE "The 100"

WHEN|WHERE Wednesday night at 9 on CW/11

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Ready for a Lost-Lord of the Flies-Galactica-Dawson's Creek mashup? That's one way to look at "The 100," which begins with all the makings of another CW "youth" stew misfire.

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But wait. Keep calm past the generational split between adults running a post-nuke space station housing humans till they can return to a century-cooled Earth, and their 100 "juvenile offender" kids just blasted back to test if the planet is fit for habitation. Look past the pilot's perfect hair and makeup. Sit tight through early Earth-side factions of bullies vs. brains. Chill as they glimpse "grounders" (at least they're not called The Others), orange acid fog (it's no black smoke monster) and magical, glow-in-the-dark flora. Even calling their space station The Ark. It's OK. Really.

"The 100" is about to get light-years better -- actually, soul deep. Gutsy ground leader Clarke (worthy new face Eliza Taylor) faces mortal issues with her widowed mom, station council member Abby (Paige Turco). Bully chief Bellamy (Bob Morley) and his illegal-second-child sister, Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), meet their own dire dissension. Political upheaval above embroils conflicted councilors (Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost" fave Henry Ian Cusick), who plan to conserve resources by "culling" the population.

It's so rich that the first love triangle doesn't form till Episode 5. And then it's solid drama.

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MY SAY Wednesday night's hectic pilot barely hints at coming riches. The CW sent critics six episodes, normally more than we would want to watch, but "The 100" compels binge viewing.

Episode 3 is when everything deepens, with flashbacks and plot twists that prove revelatory. It's scripted by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft, who cut their teeth on "The Shield." Other key staff credits range from "Lie to Me" to "MI-5" to "Pretty Little Liars." Somehow, all those influences jell in this strongly acted thriller, which seems to add another intense dimension weekly.

BOTTOM LINE It's building toward 100 reasons to watch.

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GRADE A-

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