Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Revolution" Pilot Reaction


One of the building blocks of fiction is suspension of disbelief. The creator of a fictional tale relies on the consumer to accept that which is not real. Sometimes it's as simple as starting your work with "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away". Sometimes, often times, it's a little harder than that. Still, if you've produced a good work, the reader/viewer shouldn't constantly be saying "I can't believe this."

"Revolution", the new post-apocalyptic-but-not-that-kind-of-post-apocalyptic series from NBC, never quite gets there.

The show's premiere was Monday night, though the pilot episode has been available for awhile as a "sneak peek" through NBC. I watched it when it was first made available, and gave it a second chance last night, but both times when watching the pilot episode I kept finding myself coming back to questions that, to put it quite bluntly, weren't really "the point" of the show. The creators of "Revolution" don't want the show to be about the mystery behind WHY the power went out or HOW the power went out. But, to me at least, that seems far more interesting that what was presented in the pilot as what they do want the show to be about.

Part of the problem with the construction of the show is that the pilot episode opens in present day, right before the power goes out. We meet Ben Matheson, who apparently knows the blackout is coming and also knows WHY it's coming. Then we jump 15 years into the future, where Ben appears to be pretty unburdened with this huge piece of knowledge that -- in the interim, at least based on what we saw in the pilot -- he hasn't shared with anyone other than his now-deceased wife.

As the episode unfolded, I couldn't help being far more interested in not only the cause behind the blackout, but the more immediate fallout from it, which was hastily addressed in a voiceover (which turned out to be a village teacher telling the history to his "students", in a scene aped straight from "Serenity"). I want to read "A History of Earth: 2012-2027" more than I want to see how the rest of "Revolution" plays out from here.

That goes back to the inability to suspend disbelief when it comes to the show's core premise. I'm sorry, but "physics stopped working" doesn't come close to cutting it, and the twist at the end of the episode only adds to my lack of belief.

In all honesty, this wouldn't be as much of a problem if "Revolution" was a better character driven show. It's always hard to judge characters on a single 40-minute episode, but in the 40 minutes we've been presented with so far, the focal characters of "Revolution" seem really bland. Bland to the point that I'm having trouble remembering their names. Compare that to a show like "Lost", which was obviously mystery-heavy from the start, but also grabbed you right away with compelling characters. The only character who jumped off the screen for me was Giancarlo Espositio's militia enforcer, and that's mostly because Giancarlo Espositio is awesome at whatever he does.

"Revolution" was the only new series whose premise really grabbed me this summer, and the only one I added as a season pass to my DVR in advance. However if it doesn't pick up quickly, it'll be the first casualty from my fall schedule. I'm not interested in watching another "The Event" play out its slow trek to an untimely demise.

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