No one can accuse the people at the CW of not giving its audience what they think it wants.
"Star-Crossed," which premieres Monday and might easily be reverse-engineered from its title alone — it's "Romeo and Juliet," with aliens — adds another story of cross-cultural, interspecies romance to the network of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Vampire Diaries" (and "Hart of Dixie," for that matter). For a certain sort of moony viewer, there is no love so true as the impossible love that is meant to be.
Created by Meredith Averill (formerly a story editor at "The Good Wife"), it is also more than a little reminiscent of "Roswell," another series that found extraterrestrials mixing with ordinary American teenagers in a high school setting. But where those aliens, passing as Earthlings, kept things on the DL and the QT, these arrive with a splash, a skirmish and surrender.
Aimee Teegarden ("Friday Night Lights") plays Emery, an Earth girl so game that at age 6, when a city-sized alien spacecraft crash-lands within sight of her house, she creeps out to the garage with a flashlight to discover what fortunately turns out not to be something that eats her. It is instead a 6-year-old alien boy, whom she feeds Reese's Pieces — sorry, pasta — and who, though she believes him dead, grows up to be hunky Matt Lanter ("90210") as Roman, the extraterrestrial Romaneo to her Earthly Juliet. He will actually say at one point, "We're from two different worlds, Emery." They press their palms together, like Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in the Franco Zeffirelli film version of the relevant Shakespeare play.
We are in 2024 by that time, which, apart from some upgrades in cellphone and school-cafeteria technology, looks much like the present day. Humans being humans, as well as a kind of metaphor for humans, here, their relations with the Atrians (the aliens are Atrians, from the planet Atria) consist mostly in keeping them locked up in a ghetto of cargo containers.
"They're never going to treat us like equals," Roman says to his father, a leader of his people.
"Your generation can bridge the gap," says his father.
Indeed, as our story properly begins, seven alien teens, under federal authority, are about to be bused in to the local high school. The word "integration" is used. Picket signs — still a thing in 2024 — are brandished. (Does this remind you of something from your studies? Discuss.) Why you would begin to mainstream the First People From Space with seven high school students, some of whom are pretty darn surly, is just one question better left alone, if it is your aim to have any fun with this at all.
The show, which goes, in its small parts and large arcs, where so many have gone before, is easy to mock. Yet within its bounds and even its baldly obvious analogies and soft political points, it is effective enough.
It's the usual dance of insiders and outsiders, mean kids and weirdos, of Sharks and Jets, Montagues and Capulets biting their thumbs at one another in the school corridor while one special guy and girl fall in love. There are the good ones and the bad ones, and the bad good ones, and the good bad ones. Adults, as always in these things, are no help at all.
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Rating: TV-PG-DLV (may be unsuitable for young children with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and violence)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun