I have been looking forward to this new show, Revolution, since the previews first came out in late spring. A sci-fi show set in post-apocalyptic United States? I’m there. All forms of media have been churning out dystopian futuristic society stories since The Hunger Games movie got the green light. There was influx of this genre within Young Adult literature (Delirium, Divergent, Matched, etc.), which I have loved since it means less vampire lit on the bookshelves. Now, Revolution is running in that same vein, but aimed toward older audiences.
The show, produced by J.J. Abrams and written by Eric Kripke, is set to premiere next week, Monday September 17 at 10pm ET. However, NBC released the pilot two weeks early; fans can watch it at NBC.com or Hulu. So, of course I watched it.
The LA Times reported that Revolution is the most anticipated new show this season, which makes sense because it’s reminiscent of a big blockbuster movie. The premise, explained in the preview, is that all the electronics in the world stop working at the same time, causing a worldwide blackout. In the pilot, the blackout and the aftermath is explained within the first five minutes. We find Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee), a man who knew the blackout was going to happen before it did, 15 years later. His children, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Danny (Graham Rogers), are grown and his wife is gone. Militia come to take Ben to the leader of their republic, but a fight ensues; Ben is killed and Danny taken hostage. So Charlie sets out to find her uncle, Miles Matheson (Billy Burke), with her dad’s friends, and a straggler they pick up along the way.
If you’ve seen the preview, you know all this and more. In addition, there’s a strange necklace in Ben’s possession that might have something to do with the blackout, somehow people have figured out how to get old school computers working, and the fight for power in this new world.
Jon Favreau directed the pilot and you could definitely compare it to a big blockbuster movie with all its grand sets and action scenes. However, the pacing feels a bit like a 120 movie that’s been cut down to a 44-minute preview. Scenes that could have taken longer and been filled with character development, like the walking to Chicago montage, are short. It’s understandable that this pilot has a lot to do within its allotted 44 minutes and it gets the job done, but there are moments that I felt myself wanting more.
Don’t get me wrong I really loved the pilot. The main characters are all very compelling and well acted (I toyed briefly with the idea of being Charlie Matheson for Halloween.) Aaron, (Zak Orth) is hilarious comedic relief as an ex-Google employee. I really liked the small moments of character development: when Ben and his wife let Charlie eat all the ice cream right after the lights go out, the fight between Ben and Charlie about her leaving their village, and Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) of the militia talking about being an insurance adjuster before the blackout. The cast and the characters are absolutely going to drive this show.
There’s a lot going on in the pilot and audiences are supposed to blindly believe a lot including that the entire world can fall apart in 15 years without electricity. Some critics have accused this premise of being too farfetched or thin, which is fair. A lot is thrown at the audiences during the pilot and very little is explained. However, Abrams has said that Revolution will explain how the power went out early in the season: “If Revolution is relying on ‘How’d the power go out?,’ that’s not really a show, it’s a gimmick that allows you to tell stories.”
The stories that the pilot sets up—Charlie rescuing her brother, the people who got their computers running, and the mysterious leader of the militia, Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons)—are going to keep me coming back. As well as the character development. I want to see how Danny deals with being taken hostage by militia and how Charlie deals with the roughness of life outside the village where she grew up. The pilot may not be very strong, but it was enjoyable and it shows a lot of potential.
What do you think? Will J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke make a television hit? Or is it too much like other sci-fi shows?