Monday | 10:00 pm | NBC
As many critics have already noted, Revolution is the last in a long string of high concept Lost wannabes, all unable to recapture the 2004 series’ instant watercooler buzz. Revolution has that J.J. Abrams stamp of potential quality, but it’s worth debating if any show could ever pull off Lost-type success again, or if it really was lightning in a bottle. Revolution mostly disappoints, but there are enough appealing elements that there’s still potential for a hit. I hold up the shining examples of Parks and Recreation and The Vampire Diaries, both of which transformed from ooky pilots to must-watch television. And that is the point of this Pilot Test experiment, to find out if shows are truly able to course-correct from pilot mistakes and become great.
The most disappointing part of Revolution is the overall look of the show. The beauty of the post-apocalyptic genre is the incredible opportunity for creativity it presents. Writers can take any Big Bad they choose (in this case a nondescript, even-the-batteries power outage) and spin out how it would affect us both worldwide and on a personal level. The vision of Revolution can best be described as…trendy? The characters have an ample supply of cute leather boots and earth-tone clothes as well as shiny, shiny hair. They literally still live in a suburb, minus electricity, plus a cutesy re-purposed car garden. Their trip to Chicago is also incredibly pretty (there are waterfalls involved) and ends at a picturesquely decaying hotel, complete with requisite plant growth and many, many candles. It’s Urban Outfitters: Apocalypse.
The mythology of the show was fairly appealing to me. The power outage was a great spectacle for the opener, and could be explained through any number of conspiracies, governmental, ecological, extraterrestrial, whatever. More interesting was the last-minute twist that hero Miles Matheson (Billy Burke) and the leader of the nefarious militia and self-declared Monroe Republic were friends and together at the onset of the blackout. This provides room for ample flashback story-telling, both pre- and post-blackout. Finally, as a sucker for symbols, I thought the Monroe Republic brand and the magic flash-drive necklace were great and eye-catching. If the shows catches on, you can bet I’ll be buying my own little necklace from the NBC store.
While the mythology and concept are important, the casting is what really keeps me watching a show. It’s hard to care about whatever convoluted mysteries the showtosses its characters into if I don’t really care if they get shot by a crossbow or sliced by a samurai sword, as the case may be with Revolution. (For a detailed account of who already died a la crossbow, check out the hilarious recap on Grantland.) Most of the adult cast is great: Billy Burke has a certain gruff charm, Zak Orth as Aaron is charming as the obvious Hurley of the group, and Giancarlo Esposito will never not be an unnerving and terrifying villain. Plus, Elizabeth Mitchell’s bound to roll up just in time to save the day from one thing or another by fall sweeps if not before. The young member of the cast, unfortunately, are disappointingly wooden. I have my doubts that Tracy Spiridakos can carry the show as plucky teenage heroine and Graham Rogers was equally blah as her brother. Hopefully the show will give focus on the adults, or hire some acting coaches for the young’uns.
Long Term Prediction:
I will have enough crazy optimism to stick around for as long as NBC deigns to put Revolution on my screen. It could go preposterous in a terrible way, but that’s sometimes as fun as preposterous in a good way.