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DoorQ.Com | The premise of NBC's 'Revolution' not revolutionary, but can it succeed where others have failed?
 
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The premise of NBC's 'Revolution' not revolutionary, but can it succeed where others have failed?

It’s become somewhat of futile effort for the networks over the last few years to try and replicate the success of ABC’s Lost. Not one of Big Four has triumphed, though they’ve made a concerted effort, so you got give them an E for effort. But for every Lost, we gotten V, Flash Forward,The Event, Alcatraz and Terra Nova.

Revolution is NBC’s latest attempt at the global conspiracy thriller, a serialized drama that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. The pre-credit teaser begins with a harried mother Rachel Matheson trying to get her kids to talk to grandma on the mobile phone. But one is watching Bugs Bunny, the other playing on his tablet. In walks husband Ben, who tells his wife to fill the tub and be prepared, because it’s all going to go away. She seems to know what he means. He also begins downloading a program from his laptop onto some sort of external drive and stores it in some pendant. Meanwhile, Ben calls his brother, who is driving back to his military base with a friend. Ben tries to explain to Miles that something is about to happen, when suddenly an unknown phenomenon permanently disables all advanced technology on the planet, ranging from computers and electronics to car engines, jet engines, and batteries.

Now, it’s fifteen years later and people have forced to adapt to a world without technology, and due to the collapse of public order, many areas are ruled by warlords and militias. Ben’s wife Rachel has died, and daughter Charlie and son Danny struggle to make a living with others in cul-de-sac. But when a militia force arrives in their little circle, searching for Ben, the man knows time has run out, that these men want him because their leader believes he possesses certain knowledge about what happened fifteen years earlier and the militia leader will do anything to seize that power for themselves.

But Ben is killed –in probably the most pointless, and unbelievable aspect of the pilot; but hey, you need a weekly premise. Also, Danny is taken by the militia. But before he dies, Ben gives Aaron, another friend, the pendant that contains whatever he downloaded 15 years before. And then with his dying breath, he tells Charlie to find his brother Miles in Chicago.

The show was created by Eric Kripke, who is responsible for the long running CW series, Supernatural. The pilot, which is available for watching at NBC.com, starts off promising, and despite some compression to tell the tale in 44 minutes, this might work.

One of the first things I noticed was how the show resembles the CBS series Jericho from 2006 and Showtime series Jeremiah from 2002. Insomuch, I guess that they too were post-apocalyptic series, one about groups of survivors living in the aftermath of a nuclear attack and the other about a group of survivors living in the aftermath of a virus that killed adults.

Yeah, we know there are no new concepts out there, so what the writers and the producers need to do is up the story and create interesting characters to potentially to get around the prospective problem of viewers saying “seen this, done that.” Revolution does have a thread of believability in it, as we’ve come to rely on electricity, computers and our cars for everyday life. And if something like this were to happen, I do foresee a world coming apart, because the center will not hold and mere anarchy will be unleashed upon the world.

And much like Lost (and probably because the show is executive produced by J.J. Abrams) the show will feature flashbacks to when the power went off and how all things fell apart. At least I’m assuming they will. I mean why hire Elizabeth Mitchell (who was on screen for less than five minutes) as Rachel Metheson or even Tim Guinee as her husband, if you’re not?

The cast is good, led by doe-eyed Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson. With the success of The Hunger Games and Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss, this was a wise move to center the show on her. The only drawback is that she seems too impulsive, especially when she, Aaron (Zak Orth) and Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips)- who seems to be in a relationship with her dad- are hiking to Chicago to find her Uncle, she stumbles upon Nate (J.D. Pardo) by a stream. Yes, she seems cautious at first, but because he well-built and extraordinarily handsome, she ignores this potential breach by not mentioning she saw, what amounts to Ambercrombie & Fitch underwear model, lurking close by to her companions when she comes back to camp. In a world ruled by violent militias, and having your father murdered by one, I think not telling your friends you saw him was stupid and unbelievable.  Besides, the viewer knows from the start that he had to working for the militia, so no huge surprise when Uncle Miles (Twilight’s Billy Burke) rats him out.

Meanwhile, Burke plays retired USMC man Miles Matheson. It’s hinted in the pilot that his brother, Ben was working for someone –he knew the power was going to go off, as I noted- and that Miles may know something as well. This is what prompts the arrival of Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) leader of the Monroe Militia to come and get Ben. Neville, who was some insurance man in another life, is portrayed as rather violent, even sadistic man (too much power corrupts maybe?)

While Revolution’s pilot offers little new in its premise, there is a kernel of good conspiracy show.  And the lines of good and evil maybe a bit blurred, as Nate may not be as bad he starts out to be –though I will be deeply disappointed he saved Charlie because he loves her. Though I suspect he might have something to do with the Maria Howell’s character of Grace, who rescues Charlie’s brother Danny (new comer Graham Rogers, who could be the younger brother of Queer as Folk star Randy Harrison) –at least temporarily- from the militia and who has a secret section of her house which where her mysterious looking broach (the same one Ben had at the beginning) can turn on power, and boot up a computer that could have come from 1991.

Still, it will need to keep the story interesting if viewers are going to come back every week. As a serialized show, it will need to balance the mythology with some great stories and not get mired down in ennui that these shows have problem with while working on a tight weekly schedule. It was also have to have very interesting characters. What made Lost work so well was its cast of flawed, yet believable people, caught in a mouse and cat game between two mysterious forces. Yet even as a science fiction series, the characters were grounded in reality.

That will be the greatest challenge of any show trying to replicate Lost.

2 Comments

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  1. Jack says
    September 5, 2012, 3:23 pm

    And this is the CRAP Kripke wrote, after leaving Supernatural…it really disappoints me that he doesn’t even metions Supernatural among the good shows on TV. I heard him at Comic Con, he mentioned Lost, but he couldn’t talk about his own creation, he is a hypocrite. I’m glad the show kept on going, I really am, shows like that should go on to 10 seasons, but if he really wanted the show to end on Season 5, he should have ended it. But he left, and you know what, it stills awesome, and at some stuff its even better.

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  2. Alan says
    September 7, 2012, 11:15 am

    1981 computer, not 1991 (I used to use them). Read these two articles for a dose of reality about white supremacist gangs in the military instead of this TV fantasy: http://tinyurl.com/c8fa9wr and http://tinyurl.com/8ktv6zp

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