Netflix kicked New York Comic Con off with bang. A massive audience got an exclusive look at the pilot of Daybreak, a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age comedy that might just be the best new show of the fall. Adapted from graphic novel by Brian Ralph, the genre-defying series breaks all sorts of teen comedy rules, and introduces one of the most empathetic cast of characters since Buffy.
Already feeling the FOMO? Fear not, here's everything we learned at the Daybreak panel — plus some bonus tidbits from exclusive cast and creator interviews.
Daybreak premieres Thursday, Oct. 24. (The ten episode season will stream exclusively on Netflix in case that part wasn't clear.)
It's adapted from a Brian Ralph graphic novel. Showrunners Aron Eli Coleite, Jeff Fierson, and Director Brad Peyton sat down with TV Guide to tell us about the match made in heaven. Peyton was such a big fan of Brian Ralph's graphic novel that he optioned the property years ago. As his directing career took off, he had to shelve the project for a few years, but when Netflix introduced him to Coleite and Fierson, they knew they had the dream team to make it happen. The trio say they fell in love with the idea that "the end of the world as we know it", could actually be the catalyst for our young heroes to "live their best lives."
The show features an atypical apocalypse. While there are zombie like creatures in Daybreak, they aren't actually zombies. They're called ghoulies in this world, and while we don't know what exactly happened (something that looks like a nuclear bomb, but is probably biological since everyone over 18 is a ghoulie), every adult is shuffling around the city mindless repeating the last thing they said — until they come across fresh meat that is. With no sentient adults around, the teens have inherited the earth. And you know, split Los Angeles into territories based on their high school cliques. If Mean Girls and Mad Max had a baby, it would be Daybreak.
The cast includes some familiar faces. While most of the cast are relatively unknown, there's two faces that everyone at NYCC recognized. Colin Ford, who stars in the show as Josh Wheeler, plays a young Sam on Supernatural, and boy did that fandom turn up and out for the Daybreak panel. The other is Matthew Broderick, king of teen comedies, aka Ferris Bueller. Don't expect him to play the Ferris type thought, as Principal Burr, Broderick steps into a role much closer to his former nemesis.
Our main squad is a chosen family. Josh Wheeler (played by Supernatural's Colin Ford) might have moved to LA with no friends and no life to speak of, but after the apocalypse happens, his Canadian survival skills mean that people stick to Josh like glue. While on his quest to find Sam Dean (Sophie Simnett), Josh picks up quite a few strays including: Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), a self-fashioned samurai; Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind), an arson fueled foul-mouth middle schooler; Eli Cardashyan (Greg Kasyan), who is not related to *those* Kardashians, but very much wants to be; and a character I can't spoil yet here. But make no mistake, Josh is totally apathetic to the idea of family, it's Angelica that keeps them together. "She really wants a family, and without spoiling anything, hers had left her behind long before the apocalypse," said Lind.
Every character on the show has hidden depths. While Josh is the center of the show, the cast members promise each character gets their time to shine, even the antagonists. "At first you see her as this badass, tough jock," said Jeanté Godlock, who plays Mona Lisa, the only woman on her high school's former football team. "But then you see that her strength, her aggression come from a place of kindness. She's out here doing what she does for her friend, Turbo. She's speaking for him when he can't." Godlock went on to add at the panel,"But also, she realizes Turbo's not right. He's killing kids....does Mona Lisa really enjoy this?!"
Josh will go on an arduous and unexpected journey trying to find Sam. Ford and Simnett both teased the idea of their characters reuniting by the end fo the series to TV Guide, but neither would commit to telling us whether we'll ever see Sam outside of a flashback.
Yes, there is a Supernatural connection, but it's totally accidental. In case you missed it, one of the leads of this show (Ford) is in Supernatural, and the woman he has a crush on is named after both the leads of Supernatural. But both Ford and Simnett says the Supernatural shout out was unintentional. Ford says, "That pinged the second I read the script though, I know SPN fans will love it." The showrunners also chimed in to say, while they wish the could claim credit, it was all just a happy coincidence. "Supernatural's wrapping up while Daybreak is kicking off, I hope we can grab 'em," said Peyton.
There's a ton of other easter eggs to look out for. Daybreak is a genre show made by people who love genre TV, so there's a LOT of hat tips, references and homages to all our favorite properties. Keep an eye out for an iconic Ferris Bueller shot in the pilot — it was the very first thing Peyton says he shot and it's an auspicious start to the series.