TV: Star-Crossed – Episode 1 Summary + Review

“Roman, Roman, where for art thou..”

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(“You know, those aliens are pretty good looking….”)

Airing on: Sky

Genre: Romance, Drama, Sci-Fi, Aliens, Age: 13+

Released: 4th April 2014 – onwards

Aliens called Atrians have landed on earth in September 2014, and immediately face hostilities. Emery Whitehall finds a young Atrian boy hiding in her shed, close to where the alien ship has landed. She takes care of the frightened young boy, however the military finds him and shoots him in front of Emery.

Ten years later, and Emery is beginning her first day of high school after spending the last few years in hospital. She and her friend Julia watch as young Atrians are beginning the same school; a program to integrate them into the same society as humans. If this program is successful, it could mean the start of cohabitation by humans and Atrians, but high school is never easy.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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(“Hello, I’m Edwa-, I’m mean, Roman.”)

The group of Atrians enter high school under heavy guard, and a lot of tension. Roman, one of the Atrians, spots Emery from a distance and seems to notice her in particular.

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(And, “The World’s Least Imposing Aliens” award goes to…)

The student body are not welcoming to the Atrian group, who stand out despite having a near-human appearance. A groups of guys antagonise Atrians for being on earth and not pledging to the US flag.

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(Actors can hold their script on camera. Low standards in this series.)

At lunch time, the Atrians find themselves largely alone, but Roman attempts to join a club for helping hospital patients. His main intention seems to be to talk to Emery, a fact that is noticed by students, as well as the thugs from class.

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(“If Julia dies, I won’t have a BFF anymore. Edwa- I mean, Roman, doesn’t count”)

Julia, a patient at the hospital Emery used to be, is thinking about giving up her treatment in hospital, and living out the rest of her life with her parents, but in desperation Emery asks her to join her in the hunt for the Atrian Cyper. Supposedly, this can heal any injuries, but the item can only be found inside the Atrian zone.

Emery’s father works in the restricted zone, and Emery uses his work ID to sneak both her and Julia inside. They stand out as humans, and are in danger when Roman finds them. He shows them the Cyper plants, but reveals that they are just plants used for cooking, and have no healing properties like the rumours claim. Julia and Emery are devastated.

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(Hitting on humans girls is not okay, but alien girls are totally asking for it.)

Back at school, Sophia is facing harassment from the same thugs. Roman steps in to defend his sister, but ends up being beaten up. On top of the trouble caused, he is threatened with expulsion if he does not get along with the humans.

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(“No-one has to know our previous planet exploded. No-one!”)

Feeling down, Roman’s father offers enlightenment on why Atrians came to Earth, and why they stayed. He advises Roman to be more tolerant of humans, and be patient with their cohabitation.

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(These two are gonna end up together. I know it.)

Everyone is at a party when a fight breaks out between some Atrians that have broken curfew, and the gang of bullies from before. Knowing about the broken curfew, and wanting to see Emery again, Roman also sneaks out of the Atrian zone. He stops the party, but the police interrupt and everyone makes a run for it.

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(“Why do you have English names? Is your real name… unpronounceable…?”)

Emery and Roman are the ones running in the same direction, leaving everyone else behind. They have a quiet moment of understanding, before Emery gets a call about Julia’s condition in hospital. She runs away sobbing about her friend, and unknown to her, Roman also follows.

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(This is such a sad scene… which lasts for five minutes.)

Julia is unconscious in hospital and appears to be on the brink of death. Everyone seems to be helpless.

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(I knew it, he’s royalty! Those veins can’t get any more blue.)

When everyone leaves the room, Roman quietly enters, and uses the supposedly useless Cyper and some of his own blood to restore Julia to a healthy condition. No-one witnesses his act of kindness, and everyone thinks it is a miracle.

Unknown to everyone, in the restricted zone, Emery’s father who works on the police force inside the Atrian zone, has shot Roman’s father by accident.

Overall, the story can pretty much be summed up with “quiet and/or socially inept girl meets gorgeous outcast guy with a dark secret”. That seems to be the basic premise of teenage romance stories. It’s a formula that has worked in the past, and to great financial effect. I’m looking at you Twilight and Vampire Diaries.

So, out comes Star-Crossed with their alien Romeo & Juliet, that could have been banal, but just about manages to entertaining. But, Star-Crossed doesn’t really push any boundaries, from it’s characters, to casting, and even the music isn’t recognisable.

The alien-human romance has been done dozens of times, and usually comes across as too geeky, or sexually inappropriate. This story manages to get over those faults by making characters so human, that they need not have bothered being aliens at all. They could simply have been students from out of town, and the bullies in this episode, could simply have been ignorant bullies.

Bit of a peeve for me, is that all of the “aliens” seem to be white people… but with tattoos. Do the rest of the characters not see that? The girl aliens seems to be slightly exotic looking, but that could just be more effort in their contouring. Take away the tattoos, and I highly doubt that these “aliens” will stand out in their high school.

Think, Beastly (2011) film starring Vanessa Hudgens which has a “beast” with tattoos, except that these tattoos were far more interesting that the rub-on ones in Star-Crossed.

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(Beastly 2011 – I actually watched this.)

It’s pretty disappointing that there is very little of being alien-y, or even remotely sci-fi. The Atrians dress like humans, live like humans, almost kiss like humans, and get into dodgy fights like humans. Having multiple hearts is mentioned, but the episode shies away from showing any distinct alien anatomy until the end. Roman giving his blood to Julia shows off his protruding arm veins, and blue blood.

Most of the CG is used for holograms on vending machines, holographic teachers and crystal clear mobiles that give off blue light. Because blue light is the most futuristic light.

Out of all of the CG, I liked the vending machines best, they have a beautiful interface, and are actually the most believable thing there.

With most sci-fi series, I always judge the human race by the fact that, more and more children are becoming bi-racial. In a couple of centuries, the human race will be so mixed that you will have bi-racial, and mixed-racial children as the majority. However, Star-Crossed is actually set in the not-too-distant future, so there are still white majority, and ethnic minorities.

My observation is: wouldn’t people of ethnic nature, who are in fact a minority themselves, empathise (however slightly) with the aliens?

Or, would ethnic minorities see the aliens as “white”, since that’s basically what they look like… with tattoos.

I may be thinking too much into it.

What really breaks the illusion of this story is the casting. Aimee Teegarden, playing the female lead Emery Whitehill, has to be one of the most oldest looking teenagers I have ever seen on a TV series. How can she possibly convince anyone she is under 24, which is in fact, her real age. No amount of “youthful makeup” is helping her tired features, and in some lighting she gains winkles over her mouth and forehead.

Similarly, Matt Lanter, playing Roman is too old too convince anyone he is a teenager, as are the rest of cast. Not sure why the casting was so skewed in favour of older actors. It may just be an American thing, maybe every teenager over the pond looks in their 20’s? Who knows.

The good points are there; it’s suitable for families, something for young females to titter over, and older females to verbally scathe (so-bad-it’s-good factor), but it’s the bad points of the series that weighs it down. Anyone with experience in reading or watching Fantasy or Sci-Fi, will start to pick out points that Star-Crossed really can’t defend itself against.

The predictability, the cheesiness, the awkward moments, the lack of controversial material, and the heavily recycled plot.

A good example of the cheesiness is at mid-episode, it is mentioned that the young boy in the shed, who Emery helped sustain, had died previously when shot. So, when Roman gazes at her on the first day on school, he is some stranger who probably felt an attraction to her. It’s a bit predictable, but takes away the cheesiness slightly since there is isn’t some sort of made-up connection from back when they were six years old. However, it turns out that it is the same boy, thus layering on cheese so thick, that I was seriously reconsidering watching episode 2.

Star-Crossed is something pleasant to watch, and the teenage-me would have enjoyed it more. I did actually like the episode, but being older than the target group of 14 to 20 year olds, it’s simply rare for me to come across unintelligent romance and let it slide, and that’s where my criticism of Star-Crossed comes from.

It could have been much better if the producers had decided to push boundaries and ask more questions, it’s not like they were restricted in logic or physics, or even race.

Rated 2.5/5 – Pleasant enough to watch, doesn’t grip with anything particular. Aimed at teens.

 

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