The future has been abandoned in the looted, burning city which is the setting for new teen drama, The Tribe.
The kids and teenagers roaming the forsaken streets are on their own, scrabbling for survival in a world suddenly bereft of grown-ups.
Where have all the adults gone? The young have inherited the Earth but the fight to fend for themselves isn’t, judging by all the warpaint slathered on the faces of the characters, for the meek and mild. In tonight’s opening scenes we learn the entire adult population has been wiped out by a mystery virus: no more parents, teachers or police.
Most of the young survivors have formed themselves into gangs — the Locusts headed by the frightening Zoot and Ebony, and their rivals, the Demon Dogs.
The kids have also inherited all the trappings of the consumer society that spawned them — including a lot of cool clothes, accessories and, obviously, hefty stocks of cosmetics.
But used to a sophisticated, technological world, they now find themselves caught in a primitive scramble for a few remaining resources.
Not all the kids have signed on with the city warlords, however. A few strays are dreaming of starting a new life somewhere that they can build a community and start providing for themselves.
In the first episode a new clan starts forming, based in a deserted city shopping mall ruled over by an eccentric-looking loner and techno-whizz kid called Jack.
Many of the settings of The Tribe — the streets of Wellington and coastal scenes — will be familiar to local viewers. But although the series is filmed in New Zealand and boasts an all-Kiwi cast, it’s not quite home-grown children’s drama as we used to know it.
The multi-million dollar, 52-part series was made by Wellington-based Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, a production company making family programming for the international market.
It airs on Channel 5 in Britain, where it has won a cult following, has been a hit in Finland and has sold to several other countries, including Poland, Israel and Vietnam. And a second series is now in production. All of which explains why the actors speak with accents which sound vaguely American and the story is a universal, rather than a distinctively Kiwi, one.
The children of The Tribe are facing a global disaster, their post-apocalyptic world devoid of adults could be a city in any Western country.
And don’t expect to recognise “Phoenix Mall” where the outsiders begin to congregate. The mall is the biggest, single studio set yet built for a production filmed in New Zealand.
The Tribe has been described by its makers as “Mad Max meets Neighbours” and an “edgy teen soap.” But for now, it looks like the gangs have enough to do to come to grips with the reality of a world independent of adults for things to get too sudsy just yet.
by Frances Grant