Strange bedfellows: Star-Crossed, the sci-fi Romeo and Juliet

Prepare for an alien invasion as lovebirds from different worlds fall for each other

Matt Lanter as the anointed alien leader of his race who meets and falls for human Aimee Teegarden (both left) in Star-Crossed. -- PHOTO: ©2014 THE CW NETWORK, LLC
Matt Lanter as the anointed alien leader of his race who meets and falls for human Aimee Teegarden (both left) in Star-Crossed. -- PHOTO: ©2014 THE CW NETWORK, LLC

When someone utters this very cliched line - "We're from two different worlds" - you know that love, moping and the furtive look of longing are seriously forbidden.

In Star-Crossed, a sci-fi version of Romeo And Juliet mixed with 90210, The O.C., Mean Girls and those cheesy sci-fi series where aliens come from outer space but still somehow look like very hot human beings - the two central lovebirds really do come from different worlds that are hostile towards each other.

The alien boy, Roman (90210's Matt Lanter), crash-lands on Earth as a young kid in 2014 from the planet, Atria (wherever that is), and meets a small girl in a backyard shed.

Fast-forward 10 years to 2024, Roman is bused to an intimidating high school in Louisiana amid tight security - read: America's civil rights desegregation of the 1960s - where he re-connects with that kind human girl, Emery Whitehill (Friday Night Lights' Aimee Teegarden).

She is the sort of solitary alien- friendly chick usually heroic in us- versus-them encounters like this.

He is not just the teen idol of his bunch but also the anointed leader of his race who preaches wise counsel.

"In case you haven't noticed, we're outnumbered by seven billion people," he cautions his best pal, Drake (Greg Finley), who is just itching for a brawl.

By the way, that 2024 set-up is something in name only, since nothing seems futuristic except for some low-rent weapons and alien-refugee uniforms which look like leftovers from Battlestar Galactica.

Now, you think we have integration problems?

These foreign folks are zoned off in a strictly guarded laissez-faire compound of crooks, gangs, thugs and dopers patrolled by armed human cops and slapped with curfews which make our ERP seem reasonable.

Seven of the alien teens are chosen to go to the local high school as an integration exercise and they stick out in the crowd, partly due to their Mike Tyson- style facial tattoos and mostly due to the penchant of the hotheads among the two separate groups to fight each other.

Oh, kids, alien or otherwise, they are all the same.

No, these aliens do not have special powers, except one girl can swim very fast, and using some kind of DIY blood transfusion, they have the ability to cure human illnesses such as cancer.

I tell you, if I know an alien who can do that, I would marry her.

Anyway, the whole point is to create - creator Meredith Averill worked previously on Life On Mars, Happy Town and The Good Wife - a testosterone-charged teen drama with aliens instead of the standard vampires, werewolves and whatnot.

Plus to inject, of course, socially responsible, more adult themes of racial prejudice, social injustice, domestic insurgency (there are hardline groups on both sides seeking to destroy the tenuous co-existence), military occupation, power grabs, and particularly, that hard truth of good kids being better than their hardened parents.

I mean, Roman's peace-loving Gandhi-like dad is killed accidentally by Emery's cop father in the first episode. How about this for a bummer in the relationship?

Well, apparently it does not really matter when hormones are raging because it is soon forgotten in later episodes as other matters take precedence, such as a homecoming carnival and a charity ball where hotties have to look pretty.

You know, in a perverse way, I actually like those strange-bedfellows episodes where the grown-ups are plotting to start a war and the youngsters are scheming to score a smooch.

But somehow, Star-Crossed manages to pull it off a bit, not in an Emmy-class way, but still a bit.

The best episodes are the early ones where the kids behave like kids and the grown-ups are cordoned off to do their own thing.

Later, when the mix of both worlds - I am talking youth and adult worlds here - collides and the fuller-fledged action of insurrection creeps in, the show loses its zing by becoming too predictable.

Originally, I thought this lovey-dovey alien tale would be as insipid and excruciating as the lame Kyle XY (2006 to 2009), also about strange beings - scientifically engineered youths - in our midst.

But Star-Crossed, though shaky (it was axed after one season), is zippier as it is saved by one big reason.

Both Lanter and Teegarden could have been sappy. But Lanter, especially, is likeable in that he seems more noble than horny.

This dude, for the greater good of preventing war, takes time off from pursuing his girlfriend to lose her to an iffy creepo-guy, Grayson (Friday Night Light's Grey Damon), who looks like Joaquin Phoenix Junior.

Now, that is a real alien invasion in my book.

Meanwhile, still in America's Deep South, the final season - Season 7 - of True Blood, adult-vampire fare, is upon us.

If you have not been following it, here is one line from its opening episodes to sum it up. "This town's full of vampires, has a dog for a mayor, and is being preached at by a telepath," exclaims a concerned human citizen.

The town is Bon Temps in swampy Louisiana; the dog is bar owner-shape shifter, Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell).

And the telepath is mostly-human, part-fairy waitress main gal, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), the advocate so into inter-species love and togetherness that her former boyfriend is a nearly two-centuries-old vampire, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), and her current beau is a werewolf, Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello).

Life, along with the afterlife, is complicated, I know.

But this whole complex, compelling drama series is adapted from novelist Charlaine Harris' adult southern mysteries where heat, sweat, sex and superstition form the basis for supernatural and human beings to co-exist in an uneasy truce.

The living side goes about its business, the darker undead side has its vamp bars, blood feuds, grimy murders, druggy sexual dalliances and, of course, night-time food issues.

Many permutations and outright mutations of witches, wolves, vampire kingdoms, queendoms, tribal war, squabbles and many, many characters spouting infernal white-trash accents have come and gone until I, myself, am feeling woozy from the numbing lack of blood in my brain.

But here is this final season based on its first two episodes - it is Walking Dead fight time. Following last season's cliffhanger ending, a group of berserk vampires, infected by a virus, attack the townsfolk and good vamps in a gathering and all hell breaks loose.

The whole town goes into a lockdown crisis mode as every human is paired with a vampire protector, the sheriff seeks main vamp Compton's help, Stackhouse is spurned by the humans as the cause of the conflict and the scared humans break into the local armoury to arm themselves, rabid gun nut-style.

The blood spurts, the violence is gory, the sex is dirty, the light is so dark you want to shine a spotlight just to find the light switch.

True Blood, like all shows that go on and on, lost its lustre when it got more crowded and complicated in the unturn- every-stone-and-keep-everybody- employed way.

But it always has a quality of fine grown-up drama, great Plantation Gothic atmosphere and stays consistent to its idea of damnation and salvation borne through the vagaries of earthly human beings as besieged by unearthly former ones.

Stripped of humanity, how would the human side of things fare against such gross immoral power, the series poses.

My favourite vamp is Deborah Ann Woll's Jessica Hamby, Compton's conflicted conscience-stricken daughter, caught between hunger for human blood and a greater hunger to put things right.

Etched on her pretty pallid face, as the mad craving creeps in, is the series' wretched soul turning.

Watch her guard the house of the humans she has sworn to protect, growling like a Doberman in heat.

It makes True Blood, wrapping things up in its final season, truly biting.

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