Attendees packed into a ballroom at Comic-Con International for a screening of the Revolution pilot may have been expecting twists and turns from NBC’s new apocalyptic adventure series, but nobody was expecting an appearance by director Jon Favreau.
“Welcome to the Iron Man 3 panel,” he joked as walked onto the stage. “They double-booked me, so here I am.”
Bravely withstanding the catcalls and shouts of “I love you,” Favreau warned fans that what they were about to see wasn’t the final version of the pilot. “You’ll see – there’s some temporary stuff in there and there’ll be some changes by the time you see it on air,” he said.
Favreau said he’s proud of the show, and is looking forward to working with Executive Producer J.J. Abrams and creator Eric Kripke (Supernatural) over the course of the season.
Then the lights went out, both literally and figuratively, as Kripke’s Revolution takes a decidedly dark look at a world without electricity.
After a cataclysmic pulse leaves all of the world’s technology – cars, telephones, lights, batteries – mysteriously inoperable, civilization rapidly devolves. Fifteen years pass, but no one has figured out why the power went out, and more importantly, no one seems to know how to turn it back on. In a small farming community, a young woman named Charlie (played by Tracy Spiridakos from Being Human) embarks on a journey to retrieve her brother from the cunning Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad) and the militia that kidnapped him and killed her father. Along the way, she meets a handsome stranger with questionable motives (JD Pardo of American Dreams) and the badass uncle (Billy Burke from The Twilight Saga) who disappeared from her life after the world was thrown into darkness.
Judging from the footage shown at Comic-Con, Revolution is an ambitious undertaking with a number of very expensive-looking CGI effects. Guided by Favreau, the epic shot of planes falling out of the night sky in the moments after the power fails looks positively blockbuster-worthy, and so do the vivid decaying mattes of Wrigley Field and other iconic locations. The cast is interesting, particularly Esposito, who is clearly having fun taking a page or three out of the Christoph Waltz / “Hans Landa” playbook. Although not entirely successful, Revolution asks interesting questions — and based on the crowd reaction, it should have no problem drawing audiences back for a second episode.
Art imitated life when the lights didn’t immediately come back up once the episode concluded. After more than a minute in darkness, amid uncomfortable murmurs and nervous laughter, the lights were finally restored and moderator Michael Schneider of TV Guide brought out series creator Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and actors Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito and JD Pardo.
Schneider’s first question went to Kripke, who was asked point blank what’s going on in Revolution. “I’m glad you asked. I’m going to reveal every secret of the entire show right now – for this crowd,” Kripke joked before promising he wouldn’t make the same mistake other genre shows have made. “We have the answers. I can promise you that the mythology will move forward at an aggressive pace and we’ll answer the questions and then we’ll ask new questions, so it will be fun. It will be a really rollicking, ass-kicking show.”
Confessing that he is incapable of writing a “cop show,” Kripke compared Revolution to a big, mythic Joseph Campbell epic quest story. “My whole idea, the origin of the show, is just finding a way to do like a really – Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or Wizard of Oz or The Odyssey, but just like a really epic saga across America with swords and good and evil and heroes and villains.”
Burke explained that the action sequences and fight scenes are all the work of stunt coordinator Jeff Wolfe. “He did the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and stuff, and he really sort of created our own style of fighting for the show, which is what Mr. Kripke had suggested and looked for and it’s kind of nothing but two tons of fun,” the actor said with a smile.
Before the panel wrapped up, Kripke had the final word about the tone, and ultimate direction, of the drama. “The mythology is important,” he said, “but I really think it’s about characters and it’s about family and it’s about freedom.”
Revolution premieres Sept. 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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