A few months ago, I was watching Adult Swim. You know, the time where cartoon network becomes a place for adults as they air cartoons such as Robot Chicken and Family Guy. And, during a commerical break, there was an ad for a new show coming sometime soon.
What first caught my eye was the fact the ad I was seeing had real people. No cartoons. A group of teens with special abilities find themselves in some type of school and must escape. And, after the 30 second spot, I was intrigued by what I had seen.
So, I suppose I’m just out of Tower Prep’s demographic. But, I went ahead and watched the entire run of the first season, despite having some issues with the show.
But, before I get into that, let’s talk about what the show does well.
The first (and most important) is the casting. The Casting Director and Producers did their job there.
Ian Archer, the main character of the series is protrayed by Drew Van Acker. Yeah, I hadn’t heard of him either.
When I get into a show, I look into the actors and the show’s creation. It didn’t take long before I realized Drew was/is a model. Now, if you look at history, usually models can’t act at all. But, Drew Van Acker has acting chops. In my opinion, anyway. He’s no Kevin Spacey, mind you, but he isn’t just a good-looking guy speaking his lines in a monotone. Drew is especially great at letting you know what Ian is thinking just by his facial expressions. (See Episode Ten, in which Ian makes a phone call to his mother.)
The other three leads are exceptional too, each bringing unique touches to their characters. Elise Gatien (CJ) is terribly likable. Ryan Pinkston (Gabe) is a funny goofball, and Dyana Liu (Suki) has a composure of complete seriousness.
These main actors are what keeps the show alive and interesting.
Because, frankly, Tower Prep falls short in one critical area. Its writing.
Tower Prep had a lot of promise. Its main source of conflict is solid. The concept of characters trying to escape anywhere is intriguing. But, the show’s characters seem to always take the upper hand in their quest to escape the school.
The critical cop-out of the show is the tunnels. Let me explain. Tower Prep is under heavy security. But, very early on, Ian discovers a loose floor board in his ‘dorm room’ and it leads to a very convenient set of tunnels that allow him and the others to travel around all creation and never get caught.
Ian periodically spies on the Headmaster by opening a large vent and is able to hear any conversation the headmaster has without detection. It wasn’t until Episiode 12 where the Headmaster looked in the vent’s direction and spotted Ian.
The Tunnels were the biggest mistake the writers made.
The second thing I felt was way too easy was Suki’s PDA. She called it that, but it seemed to function as a phone too. And a GPS. And this and that. Now, sure, phones can do anything these days. But, in the context of the show, why on earth are PDA’s allowed to be used by the students? Just like the tunnels, Suki’s PDA always seemed to save the day.
Lastly, I have to say the finale’s cliffhanger was expected. I don’t know if that’s because they took the route I would have or if it was just obvious. SPOILER AHEAD:
Ian and his friends manage to escape near the end of Episode 13. But, the twist is it was all a test by the school’s administration. And, by escaping, they have proved they are special and will be able to assist the school in fixing those who wish to corrupt it.
Now, you’re probably asking, why in the heck did I watch the show if I had these problems with it? Well, that’s a darn good question. It was alluring. And, I eventually put aside my annoyance with the tunnels and PDA. And, the general storyline is well thought out.
Apparently, Tower Prep will have a second season. I’m curious as to what the writers will do, as escaping from the school will be out of the equation. I kept saying to myself, “If these characters escape, there won’t be a show.”
If you’re under the age of 30 and don’t mind a little melodrama, Tower Prep is worth the watch. Of course, I’m not sure when the show will be on DVD.
Image from Judyink.com