When the Atrians crash-land on this planet, it seems like they just won the cosmic lottery.
The atmosphere suits them and they look exactly like humans except for some subtle individual markings on their necks and cheeks. (Have you tried Proactiv? Worked for Adam Levine.)
But the reception they receive isn't so friendly. They say "Asylum"; we say "Shoot to kill." That'll teach you to crater out in Baton Rouge.
One sickly little girl finds a terrified boy refugee hiding in her backyard shed like E.T., and briefly provides him with food and shelter.
Now flash 10 years into the future, and for the first time a tentative effort is being made to integrate the Atrians, who have been held in a fenced-in enclosure that looks like a light-strung South Street, into society.
The first step: sending a group of Atrian teens to a human high school, a program met with protests and hostility. Thus is rekindled that long-ago bond between a now-budding Emery (Aimee Teegarden of Friday Night Lights) and Roman (90210's Matt Lanter). And that, my friends, on a whopping big platter, is the premise for Star-Crossed (Mondays, 8 p.m. on CW57).
The alien students, known as the Atrian 7, look like a cool techno band with rather unambitious tattoos. You may have more trouble recognizing Teegarden. Not only is her hair now dark, but as Julie on FNL, she had already aged into a college sophomore. Now, three years later, she's back to playing a high school junior.
Every time Emery and Roman gaze soulfully into each other's eyes, it drives everyone around them, human and Atrian, deranged.
There are all kinds of plot lines and subthemes swirling around this forbidden love story. Not only are the two camps of teens ready to rumble at the drop of a Snapple cap, but there are also radical terrorists among the grown-ups on both sides. You can't swing a gator without hitting a traitor or a spy.
Another Friday Night Lights alum, Grey Damon, fills in the other side of the love triangle for Emery. And a solid cast includes Greg Finley, Tahmoh Penikett, Johnathon Schaech, Malese Jow, Susan Walters, and Victoria Gabrielle Platt.
It's hard to see how they'll keep this story engaging over time (which is not to say it can't be done). Star-Crossed is without question a cool concept. There's romance, testosterone overload (and whatever the Atrian hormone is), conflict, betrayal, family melodrama, red-plastic-cup parties, a little sci-fi.
It's more than enough for liftoff.
8 p.m. Monday, CW57