NBC’s latest attempt to pull themselves out of their ratings rut is Revolution, a show that has basically taken the most popular tropes in recent pop culture and mixed them up hoping for a hit. It has aspects of Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Revenge while also mixing in some science fiction and lots of action to round it out. People like easy explanations of their shows (its like this meets that), but when they are this easily recognizable it can get distracting.
The biggest problem facing Revolution is that is skips over what makes it interesting. The pilot begins in the not so distant future and the world is even more plugged in than it is now. Two young children are zoned out in front of the television when their father comes rushing home, clamoring to put together provisions. He also frantically downloads a file onto a zip drive and calls to warn his brother and the download finishes just before the lights go off. Forever.
And then we are jumped fifteen years further into the future, to a time when people have reverted back to feudal states and have already grown accustomed to simplistic life. The most interesting aspect of Revolution is the idea of being forced to live without technology. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, from smartphones to indoor plumbing, it would be fascinating to watch people learn to live without all of the conveniences we take for granted. Unfortunately, by time jumping we completely miss all the turmoil and chaos that immediately followed the blackout and are only given a brief rundown in a 30 second voiceover.
Instead, Revolution has decided to be hero’s journey for young Charlie, the little girl from the intro, on a quest to save her brother from the evil militia. Along the way I’m sure she’ll bond with her uncle (who could very well hold the secret to why the lights went off) and her father’s new girlfriend and perhaps find some love with that handsome hunter. The basic storytelling elements of the show are redundant and therefore predictable, which is never a good thing for a show touting itself as an epic mystery.
In its pursuit of being a sweeping epic of the small screen, it sometimes wanders into over dramatic territory, especially when Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie) is on the screen. Even without that low bar, Giancarlo Esposito (Capt. Tom Neville) would be the standout of the cast and of the entire show. He does controlled menace fading into outright rage better then anyone I’ve seen in recent memory. He carried the pilot, but someone else is going to have to step up to lighten the load if they want to make it past their initial six episodes.
The end of the pilot threw out two intriguing clues to the overall mysteries of the show with the hope to lure viewers back for next week; Uncle Miles was with the big bad militia leader when the blackout occurred and that it is possible to have electricity with a zip drive necklace, much like the one Charlie’s father had. Whatever problems the pilot had, these two teases were strong and probably did what they set out to, I will be checking it out for at least another week. Of course the risk is that networks hardly ever give shows the time they need to gain an audience and getting invested means you run the risk of the show being cancelled and never finding out why the lights went off.
– Devin Mainville