Thursday, November 11, 2010


Tower Prep is a new live-action show on The Cartoon Network, created by Paul Dini.  For those who care, Dini is responsible writing just about every cool, well-received animated series since 1979.  Sure, there were duds like The Gary Coleman Show, or the occasional Pound Puppies episode, but he also had his hands in (pauses for a deep breath):
  • Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
  • The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle
  • Flash Gordon
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
  • Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Animaniacs
  • Freakazoid!
  • Batman
  • Superman
  • The New Batman Adventures
  • Batman Beyond
  • Clerks
  • Justice League
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
And now, he's venturing into Live-Action with a show that is a cross between Harry Potter, The X-Men, and The Prisoner.

Yes, that Prisoner.

I'll be dreadfully honest with you, dear reader.  I was vaguely curious about this show, but not all that interested.  Tower Prep is a kid's show, first and foremost.  Maybe not for little kids, but teens are the natural target audience, and I'm already watching one kid's show regularly (The Sarah Jane Adventures) and didn't need another.

Hell, the viewing schedule around the Infernal Desire Machine household is jam-packed with TV already.

But the advance reviews were good, and Dini's got a good pedigree, so we gave the first episode "New Kid" a shot.  And it wasn't bad. 

It follows the adventures of Ian Archer, teen heartthrob in training, a kid with a barely acknowledged gift for kind of knowing what's coming next, which makes him very handy in a fight.  After getting into trouble at school (for fighting), Ian goes home, has an argument with his parents and goes off to his room to play video games.  Then he passes out and wakes up in a dorm room with incredibly annoying roommates.

He's been brought to the mysterious Tower Prep, where he is to be educated and at the same time, trained in the use of his ability.  The thing is, no one seems to know where the school is and no one can leave.  The staff are all referred to only by the courses they teach (the art teacher is a woman called Art, the coach is called Coach, and the Headmaster is called, well, you get the idea).  Plus, and this is where it really starts borrowing from The Prisoner, in the night times there are creepy, robot-like guards called Gnomes roaming the woods that surround the campus, keeping students from getting into trouble.

There are also laser sensors and a frightening-sounding West Campus where trouble-makers are sent.

Ian teams up with three friends who also want to find out what's going on with Tower Prep: Gabe Forrest, who is a nerd with the ability to "talk his way out of anything" (and convince people to do his bidding), C.J. Ward, a girl with the ability to read people's body language in such detail that she can practically read your mind, and Suki Sato, another girl, this one with the gift for mimicking the voices of anyone she hears.  Her parents are also tech giants and may be responsible for most of the technology used at the school.

There's also a semi-sentient computer program called Whisper 119, who keeps everyone on schedule and has a few secrets of her own, as well.

The first episode was pretty good, as I said, but I really wasn't very interested in sticking with it.  I have to spend some time each day NOT watching television, after all.  But I didn't remove it from the DVR "to record" settings, so after a few weeks of not paying attention, Dr. Girlfriend and I suddenly realized that we had the first four episodes recorded.

So we watched episodes 2 and 3 last night, because even though I didn't want to watch it, once the episodes started, they were damned engaging.  The mysteries about the school are genuinely intriguing and intelligent, the Headmaster walks a very fine line between being a possible threat and just the guy in charge, and the action sequences are really very well put together.  I'd put the quality of this on par with something like Syfy's Eureka or the BBC's Sarah Jane Adventures.

It's fun and everyone involved does a good job with it.  So, yes, we now have another freaking show to watch.  I have no life.

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