What do you get when you cross J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau and Eric Kripke? You get Revolution – a new show that NBC hopes will become a revolutionary, or make that a world shattering, hit. Everyone is looking for the next Lost, the next enigmatic, genre oriented, fan favorite show and some critics say Revolution could be it.
The pilot, directed by Favreau, starts with some incredibly effective shots as all electricity goes out, never to return. Anything that needs a spark to start an engine no longer works. It’s now 15 years after the catastrophic event and what is left of civilization is fighting to stay alive. But what, or who, caused the blackout and can a new power source be found?
Creator Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and friends made the obligatory press appearances at Comic Con this year followed by a Q&A panel at the Television Critics Association summer session where PCZ spoke to him. Kripke is always fun to interview and his enthusiasm for his co-producers and his new show is apparent as he explains a few aspects about Revolution.
POP CULTURE ZOO: How much of the story is going to be about why and how the lights turned out in the first place?
ERIC KRIPKE: A part of it, for sure. I think it’s a really compelling what if and how – what would happen if we all lived without electricity and in this very incredibly technologically overextended little world of ours and how would we survive, how would we find food, how would we fins water, and again this epic journey as to how can we save the world and get the lights back on. And that’s 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. And so for me it’s the what-if is interesting, but characters are everything.
PCZ: Can you tell me how much of the show is going to be told in flashback or if at all? What happened after the lights go out, what happened the next day and the next couple of days? I’m just wondering how much the back-and-forth we’re going to have.
KRIPKE: We’re going to have flashbacks in every episode. We’re going to see what we kind of call these sort of EpiPens of adrenaline of what happened in those first days after the blackout and how people survived, what happened, and how they made their way out of the cities, how they found food, how they found water. But I think that stuff really is effective in small doses because it’s very harrowing and it’s very dark, and it was very important to me and Jon and J.J. that we tell a story that isn’t about death, but is about rebirth and is about hope and adventure. And again, our touchstones for this were Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and about heroes actually working to restore the world. And so while we’ll spend some time in that environment, that’s a story about a society falling apart. We were very much interested in telling a story about a society coming together.
PCZ: A good percentage of your main characters are female. Was that because those characters felt like they should be female? Was it because “why shouldn’t they be female?” Or was it to forestall your audience writing in later and going, “Ick, you’ve added girls?”
KRIPKE: Reference to Supernatural?
PCZ: Yes. (Laughter.)
KRIPKE: No, honestly, it was more about – I think we have a fairly equal cast in terms of gender. And I think that was more just about, if anything was in reaction to Supernatural, which only has two main characters, I wanted to tell an ensemble story. I wanted to tell a big, sweeping, epic, fun, hopeful story with a large, sprawling cast who had – so we could have a lot of different storylines. And obviously, because of that, some of the cast would be male and some of the cast would be female. But Jon was right, when he said earlier the real tonal touchstone for me when I originally even cooked up the idea was Lord of the Rings and that level of just really sprawling, epic storytelling. But instead of taking place in a sort of fantastical kingdom, I wanted to set it in a very grounded, strange, but strangely familiar America of vine-covered fast-food restaurants and highways and truck stops and empty cities, but to be able to tell that story where different characters are going on these different journeys, coming together, separating again, each one having their own adventures. And again, an ensemble – a sprawling ensemble cast was the best way to do that.
PCZ: With your other show Supernatural, you had a Five Year Plan. Does this one have the same arc?
KRIPKE: Five year plans are all well and good until you get to the 6th year and then you start to realize what an idiot you are. In a lot of ways some of the ideas of the show were a direct reaction to that. What I’m excited about is this one is a whole world. There is the Monroe Republic, the country, that at least the first season, maybe more, will take part in, but that’s not to say that’s the only country in America now and that there is a whole world to explore. So I was really interested in a show that I knew could provide a limitless amount of storytelling and mythology. So I set out very intentionally to not be an idiot.
PCZ: So what is this… you’ve got the Apocalypse on Supernatural and you got this “end” of our world as we know it on Revolution?
KRIPKE: I know. It’s been pointed out to me. And funny, I didn’t make the connection that apparently I love The Apocalypse. I wasn’t aware of it. (Laughing.) This one in so many ways is the anti-Apocalypse. This one is so about, again about hope and life and beauty and fun and romance. We’re actually trying to create a world that, yes, they’re problems, and yes, there are setbacks, and danger around every corner, but it’s a world that people might want to fantasize about living. About chucking their Blackberries and just going off and living a much simpler life. We were really interested in telling that idea of the story. And for me, the notion was to set out to tell an epic quest. I didn’t set out to say I wanted to tell a story about the Apocalypse. It was I wanted to tell a story about an epic quest and then that becomes the question that follows after that it’s, and then okay what is the kingdom? I didn’t want to do some Stonehenge Lord of the Rings and I didn’t want to do a sci-fi thing. I’m from the Mid-West and I love highways and truck stops, Americana. I was really interested in telling one of those grand adventure stories in that sort of very uniquely Middle American setting. I seem to be obsessed with the Mid-west. The story is basically one long walk from Chicago to Philadelphia. I’m just obsessed with that part of the country.
PCZ: We know you love classic Rock ‘n’ Roll, so how are you going to put any in this show?
KRIPKE: We’ve been talking about playing acoustic. (Everyone laughing.)
Revolution starts Monday, September 17 at 10:00 PM on NBC