TV Review: Revolution

September 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Reviews, Television | Leave a comment

Revolution: dystopian future without power and a whole lot of bad guys, or this show could use a little steampunk.

I’m only sort of joking here because right after the power went out (all power everywhere) and we fast-forwarded 15 years, I was wondering why everyone everywhere seems to have forgotten that steam is a viable source of power. I was also marveling over the fact that even in a dystopian future apparently teenage girls can still get designer jeans. And very fancy crossbows. They must have stopped at a Cabela’s on their way to ruralville. Also, while I’m no quantum physics theorist, I still think “quantum physics went insane” is a very slim explanation for what went wrong. With all that said, I was still interested enough to give the show an entire hour’s worth of attention.

Revolution actually has a decent and intriguing premise. Something made all power everywhere shut down, and now humankind has to deal with it. The idea that governments would fall in the wake of such a catastrophe isn’t much of stretch. And at least they didn’t go with nuclear catastrophe — can’t launch those puppies without power. Humans now live in a world much like our ancestors probably did: warlords with armies rule, and the common folk just try to keep their heads down and get on with the business of surviving.

Of course this show is not centered around your everyday Joe, and we learn that right at the start. Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee) knows why the power went down. As the world starts to fall apart he downloads something to a flashdrive that’s disguised as a pendant, and then calls his brother Miles (Billie Burke) to warn him about the impending power apocalypse. Miles, we learn, is in the military. Sometime after this Ben gets his wife (Elizabeth Mitchell) and kids, daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and son Danny (Graham Rogers) out of Chicago. Somewhere along the way the wife dies. Fifteen years later the militia comes calling for Ben — they want his knowledge and expertise (whatever that is). They also want his brother Miles. Fighting breaks out, the obvious occurs and Ben is killed, but not before he passes on the hidden flashdrive to his friend Aaron (Zak Orth). Oh, and Danny is taken prisoner by the militia (can you say bait?). Before he dies Ben charges Charlie with finding Miles in Chicago. Charlie, Aaron, and Ben’s love interest, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) take off to find Miles. They have a couple of adventures (like attempted rape) and Charlie picks up a love interest along the way, Nate (JD Pardo).

Meanwhile Danny has managed to escape the militia and find refuge in what looks like a plantation whose proprietor is a black woman (Maria Howell). Okay, I admit I snickered. I love irony even when it’s not laid on with the subtlest hand. When the militia shows up at her door, the woman makes a feeble attempt at lying, but quickly capitulates and gives Danny up. In all fairness, though, she is caught between a rock and hard place, and getting herself killed isn’t going to help Danny.

The group locates Miles and it turns out he wants nothing to do with this even after Charlie informs her uncle that his nephew, Danny, is in the hands of the militia. Miles has that bait thing figured out. Nate manages to persuade Miles, but not with his silver tongue. Turns out Nate is militia (are you keeping all this straight?), and he brings his buddies along to help with the persuasion. And this is where the coolest scene in the entire show occurs.

Turns out Miles is pretty darn handy with a sword. He take the militia boys to school with some help from Aaron, Maggie and Charlie. Charlie gets a couple of good shots off with her crossbow, but this is where I learn it’s better to have a regular bow ala Hunger Games. Those crossbows take awhile to load, and Charlie is about to become militia food when, surprise, surprise, Gale saves Katniss. I mean Nate saves Charlie. And takes off before Uncle Miles can take him to school. United at last, the heroes set off to find Danny, spurred on by Miles’ heartening words, “We’re going to end up with our heads on a stick.”

Just when you think it’s over, it isn’t. We’re back at the plantation where the woman is unlocking a door that has about a thousand padlocks on it. Okay, maybe it was only three, but you get the idea, and could anything scream more loudly “Very Important Secret In Here!”? Low and behold the woman produces a pendant identical to Ben’s and plugs it into what looks like my older brother’s home radio set. The power goes on, there’s a brief chat with someone about how the militia didn’t discover “it”, and that’s the end of the premier episode of Revolution. Oh, and Mile’s old military buddy is now a bombad general.

The people behind Revolution aren’t stupid, and although predictable (it is network TV after all), the reveals were just enough and timed right enough. The acting is decent with the more mature actors credible delivery of what are really pretty predictable lines. And I really like Miles (okay, I like bad boys). With the three young people inexperience shows, and they’re all Hunger Games clones — I swear Danny looks just like Peeta, but I have hopes that they’ll develop.

One of the best things this show has going for it are the sets; the world building is good and the sets are gorgeous.  For cities, we’ve only seen Chicago so far, but is was decrepidly decadent in its falling down glory.  The rural country is exactly what country should look like 15 years after the end of life as we know it.  It isn’t the tame, civilized farms of our current America; it’s nature taking back what rightfully belongs to it.

Basically Revolution succeeded at least in keeping me intrigued enough to watch the next episode. For a network TV show premier I’d give it a 4 out of 5.

Posted by Synlah for Roqoo Depot

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