A ‘Revolution’ is beginning

Tracy Spiridakos stars as Charlie Matheson on “Revolution.” The series premieres Monday at 10 on NBC.

Life in a post-apocalyptic world is pretty depressing stuff — just check out “The Walking Dead” or “The Hunger Games.” But dystopian drama doesn’t have to be quite so dark, even if all of the lights go out.

The new NBC drama “Revolution,” from fantasy masters Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”), J.J. Abrams (“Lost”) and Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), imagines a world where the electricity suddenly shuts off. Fifteen years later, America sans TV and Twitter is a lawless, dangerous place. But the show makes surviving on your wits with primitive resources look, well, kind of fun.

“It’s an adventure show,” says Tracy Spiridakos, who plays “Revolution” lead Charlie. “People view it as a post-apocalyptic sort of thing but it’s not. There’s a lot of heart.”

Her father murdered and brother kidnapped by militia leaders, we meet the crossbow-wielding Charlie as she heads to Chicago to enlist the aid of her estranged uncle in the search for her sibling. Fight scenes with swords certainly add to the swashbuckling dynamic of the series, but more stylistic than the show’s out-of-date weaponry is its old-fashioned approach to character building within a complex mythology. Through Charlie’s heartfelt, family-first mission of “find my brother,” the reasons why the power went out and what happened in the aftermath are slowly revealed. Her perspective, so honest and full of good intentions, is what gives the show its light.

“Charlie has grown up in this world [without advanced technology]; it’s just life to her,” Spiridakos says. “She comes across some crazy, intense things as the series goes on, and she’s obviously in a lot of danger a lot of the time, but she sees the good in people. She’s not jaded. Even though she has seen a lot of death, she’s still full of love no matter what. That’s what drives her.”

Preparing for the role

Tracy Spiridakos has had plenty of real-world training for her role as a survivor of a permanent blackout in the fantasy drama “Revolution.” If you include her time spent in front of the TV, that is.
   
“I love being able to get out of my world, which is why I love playing video games,” the actress says. “I like jumping into a world that isn’t my own and exploring it. I don’t think of the restrictions — this isn’t possible, this couldn’t happen, don’t do this or don’t do that. I just pretend like it could. So this has been a really, really exciting journey for me.”

Not ‘Mad Max’

The show’s creators brought levity to the lights-out drama by focusing on characters, like Charlie, who don’t view a lack of electricity as a disaster.

“While people are struggling to hold onto shreds of the old society and struggling to get the lights back on … there’s Charlie’s generation, who see this almost as a pastoral, simple place [where] they grew up,” explains producer Jon Favreau. “This is the only world they know. And we wanted to show a lot of the show through their eyes so it didn’t feel like ‘The Road’ or ‘Mad Max,’ but instead felt like this wonderland.”


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