There weren’t many new series this season that I had any remote interest in taking a look at. Usually, there are 3-4 that are at least interesting enough looking to get me to watch the pilot, not so much this season. One of the few that I thought could be interesting was Revolution, the latest J.J. Abrams series about a world 15 years after the power goes out.
I was wrong.
I’m sorry, but I have a real problem with any show with a ridiculously unrealistic premise. It’s one thing for them to say “the power grid is going down due to a massive EMP” or something, but they act like electricity just doesn’t work anymore. Sorry, you can’t just change the laws of physics to suit your premise. My wife and I spent the whole pilot shouting “why can’t they build a crank generator?” and “they made bullets before there was power!” Apparently cars don’t work anymore because… what, spark plugs won’t spark? Gas doesn’t burn? What?
Alright, for those who didn’t sit through the pilot, let me give you a short explanation of what happened so you don’t have to waste your time. At the very beginning, we are introduced to the Matheson family. Ben, the father, rushes home and announces it’s all going to go off and never come back on. While most of us might hope he meant the series, we’re not that lucky. Apparently, Ben and a number of other people are either responsible for what happens, or are at least aware of who is, they all have special, magical USB drives that become important later. So anyhow… the power goes out.
And suddenly, it’s 15 years later. The cities have been overgrown. The Mathesons are living in a commune somewhere, surviving by hunting and farming and apparently, paying off the local militia. Daughter Charlie is out looking through the ruins of civilization and waxes nostalgic about ice cream. I mean, it’s not like people didn’t make ice cream without electricity or anything. Heck, people did lots of things before the advent of electricity, what’s wrong with these losers?
So anyhow, the evil militia shows up in downtown Commune-ville and demands that Ben come with them. The town resists and Ben is killed. I’m sure that was a preferable alternative. Instead of taking Ben, who they think knows what caused the power to go out and how to turn it back on, they grab Ben’s ignorant son Danny, as bait for Ben’s estranged brother, who might also know, Miles. Now, Charlie and her rag-tag group of idiots head off to Chicago to find Miles, a journey that conveniently takes about 30 seconds and Miles just happens to be the first person they run into in Chicago, eliminating the need to actually look. Miles is a drunk. Apparently, Miles is also a ninja. I guess that makes him a ninja-holic. Through very contrived circumstances, Miles is forced to go along with Charlie and her merry men.
Meanwhile, Danny makes good his escape from the evil militia, mostly because they’re the most incompetent group they could find. He wanders around in the woods until he has an asthma attack, conveniently outside of the house of Grace, who just so happens to have an inhaler and just so happens to be part of the whole power conspiracy. It turns out those magical USB drives have the ability to turn the power on and off over a limited area! That would be a cool trick, except nobody is generating power anymore! Are we supposed to believe her USB drive is magically making electricity to power her lights and computer? Oh, and what’s powering the phone lines that she’s talking with her mysterious contact over?
Beyond the idiotic premise, you have the really stupid characters. Maybe they’re not stupid so much as they are two-dimensional. Charlie is a spoiled brat, Miles is a ninja asshole, these aren’t people we haven’t seen in failed TV series a dozen times before.
What’s perhaps worse is that the whole show looks fake. Come on, 15 years after all the power goes out and everyone is still clean, well manicured and wearing designer clothes? They’ve taken a couple of cars and made them into planters, but it still looks like small-town America. I guess whatever made the power go out made people stupid too because they can’t remember that human civilization worked just fine for hundreds of thousands of years without electricity. Think Old West. They had steam locomotives. What, doesn’t burning coal work anymore? Water doesn’t turn to steam when heated? And why don’t they have batteries? Batteries aren’t difficult. Even the ancient Persians had primitive chemical batteries. Or doesn’t chemistry work either? It just makes my head hurt. Maybe even worse is the prohibition against firearms. Why? They’re allowed to use crossbows, which are just as deadly over reasonable ranges. It’s not like bullets are hard to make, anyone with a few tools and some raw materials could do it. It reminds me of Mad Max, where they spent all their time looking for gas, yet drove everywhere, and bullets were treated like a rare commodity, but anyone ought to be able to make them easily. Did these writers do a bit of research before putting fingers to keyboard?
To be honest, it reminds me a lot of Flash Forward, a show with a similarly hinky premise that had no clue where it was going either. One thing I do know because it’s painfully obvious is that the audience will be treated to episode after episode of crappy excuses why the power can’t be turned back on. After all, that’s the whole set-up of the show, isn’t it? Once the power goes back on, the show is over! It’s like every quest show on the air, sort of like Star Trek: Voyager. You know what you’re trying to find, you just know that every time you find it, you have to quickly lose it again so you can stay on the air. That only works for so long.
Usually, even the very worst shows have something going for them, either an interesting premise, decent characters, skilled actors… something. Revolution has none of those things and I don’t see it developing any of them. Bad plotting, bad acting, bad characters, absurd concept, I’m giving this one a pass.
For my wife’s review, go here.