Revolution Premiere Review — How Much Mythology Can One Show Take?

Revolution, airing Monday nights at 10 on NBC, is the new high concept, high action show of the 2012 fall season.  The pilot, produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Jon Favreau (director of the first two Iron Man films), was action packed, with so many effects and perfect sets, it rivals the elaborate pilot of Lost (that one directed by J.J. himself) in it’s grandeur.  Featuring a cast of little-known actors (other than Twilight dad, Billy Burke, and Lost alum, Elizabeth Mitchell), the show doesn’t have much in terms of star power, for which, I am glad.  It’s one thing to have a crazy premise, and quite another to stick a celebrity in it.

The story of Revolution begins with an event: the power goes off.  No electronic devices work, the world goes dark, but no one knows why.  Anarchy ensues, though we don’t see it, and, 15 years after the blackout, a militia led by ‘General Monroe’ (David Lyons) has taken control of a part of the country.  One man who holds information of the blackout on a secret flash drive (hidden in a necklace), is Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee), and his knowledge makes him and his brother, Miles (Billy Burke) targets of a militia search.  When a militia team, lead by gun-wielding Captain Tom Neville (played by the fear-inspiring Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad and Once Upon A Time), finds Ben in his compound, he is accidentally shot and killed, leading his two teenage children on a wild adventure.  So as not to return empty handed, the militia takes Ben’s asthmatic son, Danny, which sends big sister, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) on a mission to find her mythical uncle, Miles, so that she can rescue her brother.

Charlie, who happens to be super hot and good with a bow and arrow, was painted as adventurous and a little reckless in the pilot.  She gets her group into trouble when she puts her trust in a stranger, Nate (JD Pardo)–who just happens to be a beautiful young male–which simultaneously shows that she is an optimist, and sets the groundwork for a nice forbidden love plot line.  Seriously…they are both too pretty not to make out at least once.  As far as kickass female roles go on television, I haven’t made up my mind about Charlie.  The pilot set up a lot of interesting things about her character (her mother’s death and her relationship with her ‘step mother’, her strength, her curiosity about the world around her), but it’s difficult to see how well Revolution will be able to follow through with it’s character development.  The main problem with shows like these (see: The Event) is that they are so heavy on concept, they can forget to make their characters likable.

The pilot truly was good fun, filled with a lot of great touches–Charlie keeps postcards she collects in a Lord of the Rings lunchbox–but it is definitely going to be a tough sell on the mythology front.  What happened to the power? No idea. Who are the real bad guys and what is their end game?  What was Charlie’s father’s role in all of this?  Is her mother really dead? (I’m pretty sure the answer to that last one is no.)  What electricity still exists and how do computers help/hurt this new reality?  And, finally, how does Miles know how to fight like Captain America?  With all these questions, it’s tough to see how Revolution will be able to unravel the mysteries while keeping the characters engaging and genuine–no easy feat, as proven by Miles’ strange superhero abilities…

Final Say: I think this show is worth trying, and I will definitely be following it for the next few weeks, but I would be surprised if it made it past one season, and even more surprised if it became a sensation.  If you’re interested, you can watch the episode online (on Hulu or NBC’s website), and check out the promo for next week’s episode here.

Other random questions:

During the attack on The Grand Hotel, why was Nate in the lead?  He was the youngest soldier there…is he connected to Monroe somehow?

What is Nate’s endgame (other than keeping young female viewers interested)?  Can we trust his feelings for Charlie?

Tell me your thoughts about the show in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Revolution Premiere Review — How Much Mythology Can One Show Take?

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  4. My Hopper automatically records all of NBC’s prime time line up, so when I was bored last night I stumbled upon Revolution. I think the show has some real potential but their delivery needs some work. I was talking to a few of my coworkers at DISH this morning and everyone thinks they were trying to force way too much into forty five minutes. I think Revolution could probably get a good cult fan base going, but as far as a second season it might be a bit too early to predict with only one episode. I will be following until I am certain which side of the fence I sit on.

    1. I agree, I worry about how much information they are trying to get across before taking some time to get the audience to really care about the characters. I think that ‘Lost’ took off because episodes focused on certain characters, allowing us to really get a feel of the characters’ daily lives before ending up on this mysterious island. And, it didn’t really start delving into the mythology of the smoke monster or island until much later. Another good example is ‘Alias’, which was extremely focused on one woman’s personal struggle in the pilot instead of the mythology they were starting. I worry about Revolution because I didn’t feel connected to Charlie or her uncle from the pilot. But, I too will continue watching before making a final decision. We’ll talk when I watch the second episode 🙂

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