Monday, May 14, 2012

DAMN Good Television -- TRON: UPRISING - "Beck's Beginning"

Greetings, programs...

Six days before the official broadcast, the Disney XD channel released the 30-minute preview to their upcoming animated series Tron: Uprising that helps fill in the gap between the two Tron feature films.  Titled "Beck's Beginning," the episode serves as a pilot for the 10-part series that is scheduled to begin on June 7, 2012.

It seems very fitting that Disney XD debuted the preview online, where I could sit back in the comfort of my living room and watch it on a HD television playing video from an AV adapter connected to an iPad tablet device.  In the words of Kevin Flynn...Radical, man.  The digital world of Tron has come a lonnnnnng way since it first reprogrammed the brains of many young Gen-Xers in 1982 and now there's a new chapter in the saga, an animated wonderland that builds on the designs from Tron: Legacy and fuses them with a style similar to the Peter Chung MTV classic, Aeon Flux.

Set somewhere between Clu's betrayal of Kevin Flynn in 1989 and his son Sam's arrival on The Grid over 20 years later, Clu and his lead general Tessler (voiced by Lance Henriksen) are seizing control, with Argon City, the central location for the series, as their latest target.  However, a young mechanic program named Beck (Elijah Wood) has chosen to resist the Clu regime by taking on the identity of iconic hero Tron in order to inspire others.  Beck's efforts attract the attention of the original Tron (reprised once again by Bruce Boxleitner), who escaped Clu's betrayal that fateful night somehow and has gone into hiding.  It seems Tron has been looking for his successor and after getting to know Beck during an interrogation, decides the young program may be exactly what The Grid needs.  Together, the two form the early stages of an uprising against Clu even though Tron: Legacy viewers know how that must ultimately turn out.

Almost immediately, you realize that Tron: Uprising is going to be something special and unlike anything else currently on television.  The script by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wisely begins with the necessary backstory recap for n00bs, narrated by Boxleitner, whose gravelly voice gives everything that sense of importance that he did so well on Babylon 5.  The interrogation of Beck by Tron (disguised in his Rinzler garb!) jumps us right into the good stuff, leaving it up to flashbacks to fill in the rest as needed.  From there, it's a pure visual assault of lightcycles, helicopters, ATVs and even a gravity-defying train.  And thankfully, there's a solid attempt to echo Daft Punk's brilliant Tron: Legacy score by composer Joe Trapanese, who orchestrated Daft Punk's music for the film.

We're also briefly introduced to supporting characters Mara (Mandy Moore), Zed (Nate Corddry) and Able (Reginald VelJohnson), but the real tension seems to be between Beck and Page (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the bad girl who just so happens to be Tessler's daughter.  Even though Beck masks his true identity while acting as Tron, his behavior begins to tip off Page early on, so it seems inevitable the truth will come out and force Page to make a choice.  Oh, and you have to wonder what that reclusive Kevin Flynn is doing during all this.

Overall, Tron: Uprising looks to be far better than any animated movie tie-in on television deserves to be.  Any TV show that makes you want to see the next episode NOW is always a good thing, so here's hoping the rest of the series lives up to this very promising beginning.  Man, these next three and a half weeks are going to take forever.

Oh, and if you want to check out the episode for yourself, you can view it HERE on YouTube.  Go knock on the sky and listen to the sound...

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