Teen hero Hart Greyson (Corey Sevier) is every kid's fantasy. His generation rules the planet, there are no parents to spoil the fun and at the ripe age of 15, he's set to embark on a brilliant career in medicine.
Alas, there's a dark side to this brave new sci-fi world, as viewers learn in the debut episode of locally made series 2030CE (Common Era) on YTV tonight at 9:30 p.m., when Hart is plunged into a mystery involving the global corporation that dominates post-apocalyptic society.
"He's trained to become a doctor and there's a conspiracy that goes on and he gets put down to a lower rank of an eco-technical worker -- which means he's doing all the dirty jobs like being a fireman, cleaning out toxic dumps and stuff like that," Sevier, 18, said during a break in shooting at an abandoned Winnipeg cement plant last summer.
"It's kind of a mystery why they've done this to him, they've kind of messed up his life ... so it's kind of a struggle to find his way back to the top and figure out what's going on."
The Toronto-based Sevier, star of TV's Lassie and Little Men, also worked in Manitoba-made feature A Wilderness Station with Roswell's Brendan Fehr last year. He's been acting for more than 10 years, but 2030CE is his first foray into sci-fi.
"It's fantasy, but it does have a definite realism to it," he says.
Under surveillance by corporate government Nexes, Hart, his little sister Rome (Tatiana Maslany) and best pal Robby (Neil Denis) set out to expose the conspiracy while maintaining an illusion of obedient conformity.
In the first 13 episodes -- YTV has already ordered a second season -- viewers learn that a disease called progressive aging syndrome kills off most adults by age 30, and that people who defy Nexes may be subjected to genetic remodification.
"Everything at first is supposed to seem very happy, very wonderland," Sevier says. "Hart starts to see the other side of Nexes."
Co-creator Dennis Foon says a series mythology takes shape as the story progresses -- he hints that progressive aging syndrome is not what it seems -- and there's a heavy emotional platform on which the kids, most of whom are orphans, operate.
There's also a whiff of romance for Hart, with fellow eco-tech Jakki Kaan, played by Vancouver actress Jessica Lucas.
Lucas, 15, says Jakki and Hart don't get along at first, but sparks eventually fly.
"There's chemistry between us definitely."
Co-produced by Winnipeg's Buffalo Gal Pictures, Regina's Minds Eye Pictures and other partners, the series rounds out Buffalo Gal's resume, which already includes documentaries (The Genius of Lenny Breau), documentary series (Whole Notes), feature films (The Law of Enclosures) and movies of the week (Children of My Heart, Society's Child).
"What's interesting on this one is we're creating a future world so creatively it's quite stimulating," Buffalo Gal president Phyllis Laing says.
Several local talents put their stamp on the show. The crew includes Norma Bailey (The Sheldon Kennedy Story), who directed two episodes, production designer Rejean Labrie (Inside the Osmonds) and young actors such as Jennifer Villaverde (Manitoba Theatre for Young People's Mirror Game).