Take the best parts of 1950s sci-fi movie weirdness and 1980s post-apocalyptic flicks, plus a dash of Westerns. Stir in equal parts humor and adventure and give it a modern spin. Finally, add the critical element: a pair of dynamic yet relatable young heroes.
Put it all together and you get Radlands: a retro-future adventure series.
Radlands is about the plucky Library Ann and the scrappy Wild Kid and their rollicking adventure to find Haven, an oasis of safety in a chaotic post-War world.
Theirs is an epic quest across rugged terrain under a sky of riotous irradiated colors, encountering animals and plants that fallout has transformed in strange movie-science ways, and crossing paths with people — and things that were once people — who scrounge for pre-War relics.
Underlying this quest are their personal journeys. For Ann, it's realizing there's more to the world than what you can read in a book or on a computer monitor. For the Kid, it's learning that living is about more than just going on instinct from one day to the next. For both, it's discovering the importance of helping others and the value of friendship.
Okay, So What Are “Radlands”?
The ecology of radlands is based on 1950s movie science. Radiation transforms flora and fauna in bizarre ways — from horse-sized ants to hyper-intelligent badgers to walking palm trees. Radlands are unpredictable places full of strangeness and wonder, where only the foolhardy, courageous, and downright desperate will go.
They're also tailor-made for all manner of exciting adventures.
Radlands may have post-apocalyptic influences, but it’s far from grim.
The focus is on character-driven adventure for kids 8–14. The tone is aspirational and fun for younger kids, yet relatable and exciting for older kids (and adults). No gore or graphic violence, but our heroes face real danger and deal with high stakes.
The action is big. There are car chases, mini-bike chases, horse chases, and camel chases. There are wild parkour routines through crazy wilderness and bizarre ruins. There are threats of ginormous lizards and weird semi-sentient plants and scary (but not TOO scary) beast-men. There are go-cart jousts, improvised aerial machines, and guys that fire themselves out of catapults to descend in parachutes upon their enemies. There are discoveries of and chases through crazy Rube Goldbergian caverns.
Radlands is rife with homages to the source material of ’50s pulp science serials, ’80s post-apocalyptic movies like The Road Warrior, and breezy Westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It's full of mutant beast-men, jerry-rigged gear, quirky locals, and similar colorful details. Still, that's merely backdrop to add extra layers of entertainment and to inform the show's sensibility.
The humor is organic to the situation:
…Ann's gadgets break down at the most inconvenient times, and she's often cobbling things back together with wire and bubble gum.
…Wild Kid's verbal skills are atrocious, despite Library Ann's efforts to educate him.
…The villainous Marauders would be more of a threat if they didn't keep tripping over each other from lack of discipline.
…The goofy pun names are inspired by old school cyberpunk grunge, like Library Ann, Miz Ruhl, Randall Access, Bea Ware, Warren Piece, and Ty Runt.
The fashion is one part ’50s-inspired “futurewear,” one part frontier garb, and one part DIY — a jumpsuit with fringed leather jacket and hockey shin pads, a motorcycle helmet with a clear plastic poncho over jeans and furry moon boots, and so on. Cobbled together elements that create their own distinct style.
The technology is a ’50s & ’80s mash-up with the occasional nod to our own slick near-future. Vehicles are big and clunky, computer screens are black with luminous green letters, and everything is slapped together with improvised hardware.