Billionaire, Tom Swift, must investigate the destruction of a spacecraft they had sent to Saturn, while uncovering the plot of a secret anti-technology organization.
Spoiler Level: Mild
Tom Swift is the main character in an extensive series of books that first premiered in 1910. The science fiction stories emphasize science, invention and technology and the plot usually entails Tom foiling the plan of those out to steal his inventions. The books are still being written with a new one due out in 2022. Supposedly the series is credited to inspiring many great scientists since its inception. Throughout the years, Tom has been teamed up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, so it is no wonder that the CWs update of the character would have first appeared in an episode of it’s own take on Nancy with an episode in the fourth season serving as a backdoor pilot for his own show.
The newest incarnation of the character played by Tian Richards is a far cry from the original in 1910. The new Tom Swift is the son of billionaire inventor Barton Swift, who is CEO of Swift Enterprises. Tom is a genius in his own right and was able to create a fuel source and propulsion system that will allow his father to travel to Saturn and back in one years’ time. Tom is a young gay black man and seems to be a disappointment to his father both for being gay and for not being mature enough to take over the reigns as CEO while on the round trip to Saturn. But tragedy strikes halfway through the voyage and Tom is left with the guilt of possibly killing his father and believing that he was a failure in his father’s eyes. While investigating what went wrong, Tom, along with his bodyguard, Isaac (Marquise Vilson), his cousin and best friend, Zenzi (Ashleigh Murray) and his brother, Lino (Donovin Miller), his artificial intelligence virtual assistant (voiced by LeVar Burton) they discover that the ship was sabotaged and that a covert anti-technology organization called “The Road Back” is responsible. The fate of the world and Tom’s father lay in the balance, and Tom must travel the US collecting the clues that can help him in his quest. He can trust only those closest to him, and so the adventure begins!
Tom Swift is being touted as the first gay African American lead character, which is a great update from the original 1910 character and is quite fitting as a bit of pay back for the way African Americans were depicted in the original series. But even more than just the fact that he is gay, I applaud the decision to not over masculinize or feminize the character. Tom is his own person, and his family isn’t quite sure how to deal with that. Tom is both into fashion, a bit saucy and has an flamboyant attitude at times, but he is also muscular, strong and an engineer. We first see Tom shirtless behind a storm of sparks while he is putting the finishing weld on the spaceship’s engine. Imagine a gay black Tony Stark. His one big character flaw is a type of self-importance with a tendency to forget that he only got where he is today, with the help of others. He can come across as condescending and entitled, but Zenzi is there to put him in his place. Ashleigh Murray’s character acts a bit like Tom’s conscience, keeping him grounded. We don’t get a lot of Isaac, but he may end up being a type of father figure or older brother mentor. He sees potential in Tom. They do introduce a couple of love interests for Tom, a handsome lawyer and a congressman’s bodyguard.
The characters are fun, even though Tom can be a bit of a jerk but is still likeable and someone we want to see succeed. There was something missing in the episode, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It might have been the pacing. I felt that the pilot fell into the trap, too many pilots fall into, with trying to cram too much exposition and story into one episode. A lot must happen which makes it feel a bit rushed, it also hampers the dialogue a bit and throughs off the rhythm of the entire episode. I am hopeful that this will improve as the episodes go forward.
The actors are strong and fun to watch, but the script and the pacing seemed a bit off. The story was intriguing and I did get invested enough to want to keep watching.
Tom Swift: The Fast and the Fabulous
- Writing - 5/105/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 9/109/10
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