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February 20, 2012

‘Tron: Uprising’: An early look at Disney’s return to the Grid

Posted in: TV

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The Light Crawler is one of the new vehicles designed for "Tron: Uprising." (Disney XD)

The Grid, a world of shimmering, digital wonder, was introduced to moviegoers in 1982 film “Tron” and then taken to a new visual level in “Tron: Legacy” in 2010. Now the Grid is going to television and expanding with a wider mythology and new characters — and more of the sleek, glowing vehicles that fans love.

“Tron: Uprising,” which begins this summer on Disney XD, was developed by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the same tandem that wrote “Tron: Legacy,” and they say the freedom of animation is allowing to explore the Grid without the constraints of a special effects budget.

“The fun thing about animation is all the stuff we couldn’t afford in [‘Tron: Legacy’], either because they were financially or technologically prohibitive, we can now do because it’s animated,” Kitsis said.

The duo, now also working on its freshman ABC show “Once Upon a Time,” has picked up the Grid’s story right after Clu takes over, which happened years before the events of “Legacy.” The new show isn’t about users — those are humans who go into Grid, such as Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) or  Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund)  in the films — but focuses instead on programs, the citizens of the Grid. The main character is Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood), the unlikely leader of a revolution against Clu.

As Kitsis puts it: “What happens when you find yourself occupied by a force that is not in your best interest – how do you fight back?”

As for the new vehicles, “Tron: Legacy” designer Daniel Simon is back on the job with creations such as the Light Crawler — which you can see in the exclusive early-look image above – and a Light Rail, which Kitsis calls “basically the coolest train you’ve ever seen — it goes upside down.”

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Edward Kitsis (left) and Adam Horowitz at the premiere of "Tron: Legacy." (John Sciulli / Getty Images)

In one episode, a fight takes place on the roof of the Light Rail, just one moment that evokes the western spirit that exists beneath the show’s high-tech trappings. The Grid, Horowitz explained, is “essentially a frontier town.”

Mandy Moore and Bruce Boxleitner (reprising his title role from the two movies) join Wood in the cast, while  Charlie Bean (“Ren & Stimpy,” “Samurai Jack”) is the show’s director-showrunner. “Tron: Uprising” also features the music of Daft Punk.

– Emily Rome

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