washington 100 greys

Tonight sees the premiere of The CW’s latest sci-fi/fantasy teen drama, The 100, which airs after Arrow. Set 97 years after a massive nuclear war, the show follows the humans who survived in massive space stations, and who are now sending 100 juvenile delinquents down to the planet’s surface to investigate how habitable it is. Expect them to find that things are not all they seem, probably that someone knows something they shouldn’t, and maybe even that one or two of the central characters begin to fall for each other. Just maybe.

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So far, critics have been pretty enthusiastic. IGN noted that it was one of The CW’s strongest pilots so far, though complained that it’s “overly expository” and that the central kids are “a pretty bland bunch.” Meanwhile, Variety didn’t quite trip over itself with enthusiasm for the show, which it ultimately described as “better-than-average.” Finally, NY Daily News noted that the show is still, fundamentally a CW show: “Naturally, there are also interludes for romance and mean girls and obnoxious hot-body guys. Turns out even a nuclear holocaust that destroys the whole planet can’t get us out of high school.”

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The show’s notable in another way, however, which is that it represents a comeback for one Isaiah Washington. Once a popular star of Grey’s Anatomy, he was ousted from the show back in 2007 in the midst of a controversy over claims that he called his gay co-star T.R. Knight a faggot – though Washington insisted at the time that racism was to blame for his firing.  Washington maintained a low profile until last year he starred in and produced the Sundance favorite, sniper film Blue Caprice, becoming the topic of Oscar buzz for awhile in the fall. In February the first screenings of another movie he acts in and executive produced came out–Blackbird, which has as its center piece a young singer coming to terms with his own homosexuality. The film is well received and indeed its inclusion in an sidebar of the LGBT film festival Outfest shows to some extent that Washington is not a homophobe.

And that all may have been  a warm up for this week, as he’s not only playing a major role in The 100 as Chancellor Jaha, but will also return for a one-off appearance in Grey’s Anatomy, the show that once made him a star.

If Washington impresses in The 100 and wins over his old Grey’s fans, could this be the start of a  major comeback for the embattled actor? It might just be.

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