Over two nights, Fan Expo Canada attendees were treated to a special screening of NBC's upcoming sci-fi drama Revolution, followed by a short question-and-answer session with stars Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga) and Tracy Spiridakos (Being Human).
Created by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and executive produced by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek), the post-apocalyptic series is set in a world where mysterious event leaves every piece of technology – telephones, computers, lights, cars – inoperable, sending civilization into a downward spiral. Fifteen years later, some semblance of society has formed, with militias roaming their territories and small farms dotting the landscape. But after a tragedy strikes her family, a young woman (Spiridakos) sets out to find her uncle (Burke), who might just know how to turn the power back on.
After a 30-minute delay, the capacity crowd was treated to a special appearance by Burke, who introduced the pilot episode. Fresh off a plane, the actor apologized for making the audience wait, and promised he would return the next evening with Spiridakos to answer questions. The visit was brief, but it didn’t seem to bother the crowd, which erupted into cheers as the lights went down.
Directed by Jon Favreau, the pilot feels like a cross between Lost and The Walking Dead (minus the zombies, of course); it’s cinematic, resembling the first half of a film rather than the first episode of a TV series. It teases the central question of why the power went out while striking the right balance between mystery and action/adventure. The pilot ended to loud applause from the audience.
Many fans returned the next night for a short Q&A with the two stars, which began with a question about working with Abrams and Favreau.
"It's a real rarity, especially in television, because when you're doing episodic work you get a lot of journeymen directors that come through and they are there to do their work and kind of move on to the next thing" Burke said. "Favreau is not that way at all. He was so invested in what we were doing and believed in it so much, that's why he became a producer on it."
As for Abrams, Burke revealed, "He's so secretive. He's not around that much, but we get some great notes and messages from him time to time. He's a little busy doing the next Star Trek movie." The comment drew loud applause.
Keeping on the subject of secrecy, Spiridakos talked about the casting process. "When I went down to the casting office, I actually wasn't allowed to take the script out,” she recalled. “We had to read it in the office and sign a confidentiality [agreement] that we weren't going to talk about it. It was pretty top-secret."
One fan then asked whether Revolution will be more like Abrams’ Lost, with a convoluted story structure that could confuse viewers who miss a few episodes, or if it will be more self-contained like Fringe, with story arcs that provide potential jumping-on points.
"This show is a little more user-friendly." Burke replied. "It's framed in this overall history, but as it goes for questions, it will turn around rather quickly. They will roll into other questions, but it's not Lost."
"Maybe I shouldn't have said that." Burke added as the audience laughed.
Revolution premieres Sept. 17 on NBC.