Monday, September 24, 2012

Revolution

Another day, another twisty sci-fi mythology-based story of survival. These shows are now a staple in our post-LOST world, and it seems that every Fall the networks roll out some new variation.  Usually with one of the LOST guys names attached to it. Revolution is no exception; this one comes from the minds of J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke (the guy behind the first 5 seasons of Supernatural).

But here's where Revolution is different: it's actually good.

I've heard that it's received mixed reviews, but I tend to avoid the reviews for shows that I think I might actually like so my perceptions aren't colored. I can't speak for anyone else, but when I sat down to watch Revolution this weekend with my friend Carl I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the premiere and how much I enjoyed it.

You've probably heard at least the basic concept, but just in case....*cue dramatic trailer voice over*
Sometime in the near future an unknown phenomenon disables all technology dependent on electricity on the planet, ranging from computers and electronics to car engines, jet engines, and batteries. People are forced to adapt to a world without technology. Due to the collapse of public order, many areas are ruled by warlords and militias. The series focuses on the Matheson family, who possess a special device that is the key to not only finding out what happened fifteen years ago, but also a possible way to reverse its effects. However, they must elude various enemy groups who want to possess that power for themselves.

The pilot does a great job of setting up big questions (what caused the lights to go out out? What's on the secret flash drive that the Mathesons's possess?) while teasing out twists and surprises right off the bat. Though if you think the Mom character (played by Elizabeth Mitchell ) is dead, you've never seen tv before. 

I also really enjoyed the overall vision of society that the show has created. Technology wise, we're Digital Age meets Wild West meets Revolutionary War. Manufacturing is gone, so people use swords and muskets. Your Prius becomes an herb garden. And horses make a big comeback. There's a lot going on in the background of the show and it's fun to look around at what's on the screen.

The narrative seems to focus on two groups, the family journeying across the country in search of answers and the bad guy shadowy military types trying to catch them. Add to that a generational divide; the main character of the show is Charlie Matheson, a twenty-something Katniss rip-off, who is sent to find her uncle who is possibly connected to the reason for the loss of power. It looks like we'll have some of the usual young people romantic nonsense (which I confess I am a total sucker for), but for now the adults are definitely the more interesting part of the cast.

For being in a post-apocalyptic world, everyone looks pretty good. Maybe just slightly disheveled. Oh, and the cast is chock full of "hey, it's that guy!" type of people. Have your IMDB apps handy while watching.

Maureen Ryan over at the Huffington Post has a really nifty article about the show and an interview with Eric Kripke. If you're wondering if you should watch it, here's how he describes it:
I didn't show up with my pitch as, "I'm going to learn from the mistakes of 'The Event' and 'FlashForward.'" I came to this as, "I want to do 'Lord of the Rings' on the American highway." I didn't approach it [thinking] "Here's this insidious mystery that I'm going to tease out over seasons." I came in with, "I want to tell an epic saga on the American road, and I want to tell a story about characters that are on this grand journey over this transformed American landscape, where there's swords, and magic and secrets and royalty …"
By the way, the "magic" comment of that quote refers to a big surprise at the end of the pilot which I won't ruin here. But it makes sense in the context and may not refer to what you think it does. 

At the end of the pilot I looked over at Carl and he had the same facial expression I did, mouth hanging open in surprise. Not just because of the final surprise of the episode, but also because...well. We really enjoyed watching the show! And based on the history of these types of programs, that was the bigegst twist of all.

Revolution airs on Monday nights at 10:00 on NBC. If you missed the pilot, you can watch it on the show's website and on On Demand.

3 comments:

Tim May said...

I feel it's worth noting that if you are someone who appreciates the details of world-building, their science just isn't there. None of the "magic" makes the slightest bit of sense, and from the quote you had about this being about the journey, not a mystery, I don't see a lot of reason to suspect he's ever going to explain it.

Again, this is only a "if that's what you're looking for" caveat. Obviously, you're invested in the story and characters and prolly don't read it with a physics textbook on your lap, so this is a good show for you. I just wanted to warn the people out there like me, who do appreciate it when attention is giving to background and details, this isn't the show for you.

Chris said...

I'm kind of stuck in the middle. I am left wanting to know more details, like why the power went out, and why NOTHING works anymore. Even though I enjoyed the story, I'll eventually want some sort of answers, or else I'll likely lose interest just like I did Lost.

Anonymous said...

@Chris the Revolution writers announces they would give the awnser before the season's done.