It’s impossible not to take notice when JJ Abrams puts his stamp as executive producer on an upcoming movie or television series. Him and fellow Bad Robot Productions founder, Bryan Burk, are producing a new high-concept series for NBC, Revolution, which debuts on Monday, September 17 at 10 p.m. Eric Kripke (Supernatural) is the creator of the series and Jon Favreau (Iron Man) directed the pilot.
Revolution takes little time to dive into its premise: what would happen if the world lost all of its power? There is no explanation of this, but they hint that certain characters hold the secret to this catastrophe. But the show doesn’t continue right when the world goes dark, instead the show picks up fifteen years later when there are already established means of militia ruling and people are used to their way of living.
This is an interesting choice, since we’re used to seeing the characters deal with the immediate change in their lives and how they struggle with the fact that their former way of living is gone. There is more time for character development in shows like Falling Skies and The Walking Dead, but Revolution seems to be concentrating more on action and story. Aside from personal preference, one isn’t better than the other.
So fifteen years later, we see the family that we were introduced with before the blackout. Charlie (Spiridakos) and Danny (Rogers) are siblings living with their father Ben (Guinee) and his new interest Maggie (Phillips). We find out that Ben’s wife passed away, but the details aren’t revealed in the pilot. This family lives in a village with crops for food and rule peacefully until Captain Neville (Esposito) and his militia arrives.
Chaos breaks loose, Ben is shot and Neville takes Danny as prisoner. Ben’s passing words lead Charlie, Maggie, and friend Aaron to Chicago in search for Ben’s brother, Miles (Burke). The trio doesn’t know why or what’s going to happen next, but under Ben’s direction they travel to Chicago and find Miles, who is less than enthusiastic during the family reunion.
Revolution isn’t a show that many people will immediately become engrossed in. The pilot episode sets up its world, characters and conflicts, but answers few-to-none of the questions it presents. Every network is looking for the next Lost, but time and time again those shows fail. Revolution isn’t the next Lost and if people continually compare the two, then Revolution will be cancelled like the rest of the other ambitious shows. Revolution is an action-adventure series with an upside to inject a level of intelligence because of its premise. But I’m afraid it’s becoming too confusing, too quickly, which will not fair well with the general public.
Performance-wise, it’s nice to see Billy Burke step away from his vampire daughter to become a killing-machine. Giancarlo Esposito does a good job acting the villain as Captain Neville, but the strongest of these unknown actors is Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie. She embodies the strength of a Katniss with the unique situation of growing up in these ruins and not knowing a time of technology. It should be interesting to see how she reacts if she has to work a cell phone in a future episode.
Overall, Revolution’s pilot episode isn’t anything special, but nonetheless has enough qualities to keep the viewer interested throughout. I’m looking forward to see what direction Revolution takes and if it could last longer than the first season. I’m not getting my hopes up because there are many ways Revolution can fail, but I am rooting for it.