Nick Rosen | |
Bushcraft for millions

The off-grid life is about to go mainstream — in a new network TV series called “Revolution” on NBC.  Produced by the creator of Lost and other hit series, Revolution is set 15 years in the future, after electricity ceases to exist on earth because of a solar flare.

The series stars Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie, a teenager who tries to rescue her brother after he’s taken by a local militia in this post-apocalyptic future where all technology has been disabled.

The show launches Monday Nov 17th, so be grateful your TV still works – if it does. “Revolution” mixes a terrific cast, breathtaking visuals, sharp action sequences and brave twists into a low-tech “Mad Max” where cars don’t work anymore.

Survivors refer to that fateful day as the Blackout, but no one knows what caused it until well into series 1.

Director Eric Kripke says: “Its saying what would happen if we all lived without electricity in this very incredibly technologically overextended little world of ours and how would we survive.

“How would we find food, how would we find water?” he asked. “That’s a part of it. But for me it’s just a really epic, fun saga. It’s this journey about this family that is struggling to reunite. So it’s intensely character driven – very complicated and fascinating characters who are all just struggling to come together against incredible adversity. For me, the ‘what if’ is interesting, but characters are everything.”

Their story, our nightmare

The opening scenes of “Revolution” are set in the present day as viewers meet Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee, “The Good Wife”), who rushes home to tell his wife, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell, “V”), that something dire is about to happen. He also calls his U.S. Marine brother, Miles (Billy Burke). Then the lights go out – forever.

This future looks a lot like the past, with matter-of-fact murders justified by Wild West morality. With no factories to make ammunition, swords and crossbows are enjoying a comeback. Bullets would presumably be a dwindling resource with ever-escalating prices.

Revolution” will kick off with a search-and-rescue mission. Each member of the good-guy posse is fully realized and well-executed, especially schlubby scientist Aaron (Zak Orth). Working for Google didn’t prepare him well for this task. Ben Matheson’s girlfriend, Maggie, fights like Lisbeth Salander and has stepmom issues with Charlie.

Once this odd group gets going, the exceptional production values of “Revolution” come sharply into focus. The unlikely band of friends traipse through fields gone fallow and the crumbling streets of Chicago. The environment was the only winner in the Blackout — everything is green and lush. To up the ante for Charlie’s first flirty encounter, a waterfall is a bit much, but it sure is pretty.

The visual mood of “Revolution” keeps changing, showing rapidly shifting worlds. The ruins of vine-choked mansions, tranquil farmhouses, a battered fuselage, acres of crops in glaring sunlight. Flickering candles turn night scenes medieval.

“In my mind, the best way to make a sci-fi show is to …make it about the characters,”Kripke said. He’s approaching “Revolution” like it’s a “Lord of the Rings” or “Star Wars” TV series.
“It’s a quest, it’s a road show,” Kripke said. ” ‘The Walking Dead’ is a lot about survival. This is about a quest and a goal, like King Arthur and “Wizard of Oz.’ ” (Spiridakos credits Kripke with this succinct description of Charlie: “She’s Dorothy with a sword.”)
“It’s about people seeking something,” Kripke continued. “They’re moving across this American landscape, in every episode going through a different town or village.”
In one episode, the travelers will visit a town where all the parents died 10 years earlier. “Revolution” will also explore the notion of being a drug dealer in a world without cell phones or pagers.
Kripke does intend to answer the show’s big question – what happened to the electricity? – and settle the rules of the universe he’s created. Even though electricity is gone, lightning remains (“I’ll address it,” Kripke promised) but any device that throws a spark or any circuit that carries an electrical charge – batteries, spark plugs, engines – do not work.
“We brought a physicist into the ‘Revolution’ offices and we pitched him what we wanted to have happen. And we gave him the big secret as to why it all happened, because we have that secret, and we really vetted it to make sure that it was accurate from the scientific point of view,” Kripke said. “And his face just lit up. He was like, ‘That is absolutely possible.’ He’s like, ‘And I never even considered it, but that’s amazing.’ And so we did our homework and we came up with something that actually is quite plausible.”

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