CW's space-age romantic 'Romeo & Juliet' knockoff looks for a happier ending
The aliens in “Star-Crossed” haven’t technically arrived yet — we’re told in voiceover they landed on May 16, 2014 — so perhaps it’s not too late to correct the situation, “Terminator”-style. Barring that, the CW will visit viewers with another drearily familiar romance, a mashup of “Roswell,” “Romeo & Juliet” and “District 9,” informed by the premise that if girls like the bad boys, they’ll really like the vampiric, furry or extraterrestrial ones. Every generation probably deserves its own version of these stories, but “Star-Crossed” appears determined to test the glow thrown off by its undeniably attractive, if not necessarily DNA-compatible leads.
Those would be Roman (Matt Lanter, a “90210” alum who bears a rather striking resemblance to Channing Tatum), an alien teenager who, as a child, meets a human girl, Emery (Aimee Teegarden). In a rather “Grease”-like bit of casting, Lanter is actually 30, while Teegarden — although still in her mid-20s — can’t seem to get out of high school, given the time she spent there on “Friday Night Lights.”
Since their arrival a decade earlier (and yes, just like “District 9,” the crashed ship is still a fixture in the skyline), the alien visitors — known as Atrians, but conveniently, and economically, distinguished from humans by their distinctive tattoo-like markings only — have been held separately in what amount to internment camps. Now the government is going to begin mainstreaming them by introducing seven into the local high school, carrying with it vague echoes of the feds seeking to desegregate the South.
The spark between Roman and Emery causes reverberations between their worlds, mining the motif’s metaphorical aspects like a more tepid version of “True Blood.”
Indeed, the parallels to that HBO series and others are so numerous — including the show’s Monday companion “Beauty and the Beast,” which has reduced the usually hairy hero to a dreamboat with a scar — the astrological outlook for “Star-Crossed” hinges almost entirely on whether the chemistry between Lanter and Teegarden yields the desired swoons. Because through two episodes, anyway, the impediments thrown in the way of their relationship, while duly soapy, aren’t interesting enough to make any of the supporting players pop.
Given the durability as themes of both hopeless love and the fantasy of an otherworldly lover, it’s hard to blame CW for once again seeking to tap into them. Moreover, the netlet’s decision to premiere the show during the Winter Olympics provides some indication of the demographic sweet spot in which programmers assume their potential audience resides.
Of course, given that the title can be taken literally in this case, things might work out better — or at least last a tad longer — for Roman and Emery than those two earlier crazy kids from Verona. But if they don’t, it would be hard to label that a tragedy.
TV Review: 'Star-Crossed'
(Series; CW, Mon. Feb. 17, 8 p.m.)
Filmed in New Orleans by Ole Prods., Isla de Babel and 360 Powwow in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television.
Executive producers, Meredith Averill, Adele Lim, Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Richard Shepard, Bryan Furst, Sean Furst, Daniel Gutman, Gary Fleder; producer, Joseph Zolfo; director, Fleder; writer, Averill; camera, Robert Gantz; production designer, Ed Verreaux; editors, Scott J. Wallace, Sunny Hodge; music, Gabriel Mann; casting, Donna Rosenstein, Kendra Castleberry. 60 MIN.
Matt Lanter, Aimee Teegarden, Grey Damon, Natalie Hall, Malese Jow, Titus Makin Jr., Chelsea Gilligan, Greg Finley