There's a decidedly 1980s vibe to The CW's "Star-Crossed" (8 tonight, WPCW), maybe because it's pretty much a teen version of 1989's Fox series "Alien Nation," itself based on a 1988 big-screen movie of the same name, with a dash of "Romeo and Juliet" thrown in.
Everything about "Star-Crossed" feels familiar; it's a new series, but it can easily be mistaken for a rerun.
In May 2014, an alien spacecraft crash-lands on Earth with the usual "War of the Worlds" militarization response. A human shoots first, killing an Atrian, and chaos erupts. In the midst of it, 6-year-old Atrian boy Roman runs away from the melee and hides in the garage of 6-year-old human Emery, who brings him food and tries to make him comfortable. The authorities arrive and shoot Roman, and Emery thinks he's dead.
Flash forward to 2024 and Emery (Aimee Teegarden, "Friday Night Lights"), recently recovered from a childhood disease, returns to school for the first time in four years on the same day seven Atrians are integrated into the student body. Roman (Matt Lanter, "90210"), who didn't die after all, is among this group of Atrians.
"My heart stopped beating for a few minutes," Roman tells Emery. "Luckily, I have a backup."
They realize they met as children, and the possibility of a romance blooms anew but not without some major complications, the least of which is a human boy, Grayson (Grey Damon, "Friday Night Lights"), who also takes a shine to Emery.
Like The CW's "Beauty and the Beast," where the extent of the Beast's beastliness was a facial scar, the aliens in "Star-Crossed" don't have three eyes or a tail. They basically have face and neck tattoos, similar to those spotted on the show's target audience. (The entire male cast also seems to be competing for weirdest hair, with Roman getting a k.d. lang-style cut in episode two; at the same time, Grayson's pompadour grows to even grander heights.)
The Atrians also have secret powers that they're not keen to share with humanity, and who can blame them: The humans are bullies who coin the derogatory nickname "tatties" for the Atrians.
"Star-Crossed," written by Meredith Averill ("The Good Wife," "Life on Mars"), addresses the attendant cultural divide and the xenophobia and conspiracy theories that arise with the aliens' arrival, but the show mostly concentrates on teen romance.
"We come from two different worlds, Emery," Roman says. "We can't keep pretending that doesn't matter."
With a premise that's at least 20 years past its "fresh until" date, the issues in "Star-Crossed" get handled with mostly predictable, rote exploration to the point that one has to wonder, does this show matter? Probably not. There are a few twists in subsequent episodes, but none is intriguing enough to encourage a second viewing.
TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.