TV Review: Revolution, The Premiere Episodes

luke kalamar plugs into the new jj abrams series…

Plot: In the course of a few seconds, all electricity in the world turns off and never comes back on. What followed the blackout was a complete collapse of society throughout the world. Now, fifteen years in the future, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) lives with her brother Danny (Graham Rogers), her father Ben (Tim Guinee), and his girlfriend Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), among an assortment of other survivors, in a small, thriving community. Everything falls apart when Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) visits the community, demanding that Ben and his brother Miles (Billy Burke) come with him to see Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons). Monroe is the President and General of the Monroe Republic, the new ruling faction of the country. Neville’s visit ends with Ben killed and Danny captured. In his dying breath, Ben instructs Charlie to go to Chicago and find his brother, claiming he can help get Danny back. He also gave close friend Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth) a mysterious amulet with ties to the blackout, instructing him to deliver it to a woman named Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell). What follows is Charlie, Maggie, and Aaron’s quest to meet with Miles, and subsequently head off to both rescue Danny and learn the secret of the blackout.

Tracy Spiridakos plays Charlie Matheson

I had high hopes for Revolution before the series premiere last week. Out of all the new shows NBC was putting out this Fall, I personally picked this as one that stands out. First and foremost, I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s The Walking Dead in any of its wildly successful forms or the latest installment in the Fallout series of games. The idea of having to start anew fallowing a global disaster fascinated me. Obviously I would never want this to happen, it just makes really engaging fiction. They are really great “What If” stories that have strong potential for success. Seeing what Revolution was about was enough to get me interested.

The second reason that I pegged this show for success was because J.J. Abrams is one of the Executive Producers. That man has a talent for churning out quality content. Lost is still a highly praised television series, and Super 8 and Star Trek are only two of the incredibly successful films that he had a major hand in creating. He also has two other shows on TV now with Fringe ending this year and Person of Interest entering its second season. Clearly, the guy knows his stuff, and he being part of Revolution can only help the series.

Twilight’s Billy Burke stars in NBC’s Revolution

With this in mind, I have both good news and bad news for the first two episodes of this new series. The good news is that it really delivers in both action and mystery. In the course of two episodes, at least 20-30 unnamed characters have died in skirmishes with the main characters. It is clear this new world that lacks electricity is extremely violent and filled with unrest. The introduction of a resistance in episode 2, “Chained Heat,” is welcoming because it provides some very nice structure to the story. I can easily predict that a war will happen between the Monroe Republic and the resistance, and the main characters will be right in the middle. Clearly, this is the revolution that the show is named after.

In regards to mystery, this show will clearly have a lot of it. Pretty much all work Abrams is a part of has mystery around every corner. I already have several questions from these two episodes and I’m dying to know more. It’s not just, “How did all the power go off” either. Certain events or characters appear and I can’t help but think, “Whoa hang on! What is this?! I must know!” This is a classic method to keep viewers thirsting for more, and this show definitely has that.

The bad news is that it took until episode 2 for me to get really hooked. Episode 1, “Pilot,” wasn’t bad. I just feel it didn’t do a strong enough job introducing the characters or the story. For example, Charlie is supposed to be this extremely talented hunter who can easily fend for herself. This didn’t come across in “Pilot” however as her hunting skills were never showcased and she got herself into a very obvious trap. She came off instead as careless and overconfident. “Chained Heat” changed this by showing her as very resourceful and willing to do dangerous tasks for the greater good. Needless to say, I’m more of a Charlie fan following “Chained Heat” than “Pilot.”

The same thing went for the story. As previously stated, I love post-apocalyptic fiction. In most stories though, what happened couldn’t be reversed. People have to live with what happened and move on from there. Throughout the first episode the main characters kept saying how they might be able to turn all of the power back on, and it was presented that Ben knew exactly how to do this. I found myself wondering, if Ben knew how to turn the power back on, why didn’t he and prevent the entire world from entering chaos? If the power goes out in your house and you can turn it on, would you sit there in darkness and start eating food to stop it from spoiling? No! You would go and turn the power back on. It wasn’t until the second episode that the idea of someone intentionally causing a global blackout was introduced, and that makes much more sense. Now the writers can say that the blackout was caused to prevent a nuclear war or something as opposed to it being a careless mistake.

The acting is really great for the most part, especially whenever Esposito is on the screen. He is easily the best actor in this entire series. By channeling his Emmy nominated role as Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad and becoming much more outwardly violent, he creates a truly terrifying character. Whenever Neville is on screen, I nearly forget that Monroe is the real main antagonist. In all honesty, I can see his character becoming the main villain later on. Perhaps Monroe is assassinated by the resistance at some point and Neville takes over. That would be interesting to see. Other than Esposito, everyone else really fits into their roles nicely.

Overall, Revolution has a lot of promise. Despite stumbling in the first episode, the series really picks itself up with episode two and signals for more good things to come. If you were one of the several million that tuned out following episode one, I’d recommend giving it another shot. This show has strong potential to last several seasons and become really popular.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great review. I was really looking forward to watching this and programmed it on the HOPPER, but unfortunately, my DISH exploded and killed my entire family. Rescue crews have only recovered pieces of their bodies thus far, barring me from giving them a proper burial and, even more tragically, enjoying the fine television programming I had been so looking forward to. I guess that’s what you get for buying an inferior product 🙁

    • i understand you’re spam, but this was an absolutely amazing comment. it sucks when a your satellite dish MURDERS YOUR FAMILY but the worst part is that you missed the new JJ Abrams show.