Monday, September 17, 2012

Revolution Premiere Review: NBC Tries to Nab Their Own Lost

J.J. Abrams seems to miss Lost.  He isn't the only one.  It seems like the network executives have been trying to stumble upon the next Lost for several years now.  Revolution is the latest series to give us an ensemble of characters and then throw them in a series spanning mystery that occasionally gives us a few tidbits via flashbacks.  NBC and Abrams are hoping that they can create the proverbial water cooler talk again, and a get show that has fanboys trying to solve the mystery and eagerly tune in each week to see how their predictions fare.

It has a novel concept.  Actually, one that is much better than plane crashing on a mysterious island with polar bears.  In one mysterious night, the power to everything mysteriously turns off, and fifteen years later the power mysteriously hasn't mysteriously turned back on.  Oh yeah, there is a mysterious USB key like thing that seems to be the key to power, but who know, maybe it is just one part to this mystery.  Have you got the impression this series is trying to create some mystery?

Okay, I really do like the concept.  Though the word of the episode was most definitely mystery.  As it tried cramming as many questions as humanly possible, and make it very clear there were several mysteries to be told.  I'm fine with that.  I really hope they have a direction in place.  More importantly, that at least one writer or producer knows where everything is heading, and actually, knows why the power did turn off or what the USB key necklaces are, or who was on the other end of the computer or exactly what Monroe's involvement is in everything or why Monroe has a tattoo of the first letter of his last name on his arm.  I'm sure I'm missing a few more of those mysteries.

My problem with shows like this is that the first few episodes are usually great at getting the interest skyrocketing, but then they don't actually have any answers.  So, they just pile mystery upon mystery, and hope they crammed enough shit in front of you that you forget half the stories they churned out.  I know Lost has some faithful fans, and it was a rating hit, and networks are desperately trying to find the next one, but it wasn't really an example of a well-planned out series.  They were just throwing stuff out there, and hoping they'd stumble upon a few answers along the way.  This doesn't really make for the most compelling series, unless you are really lucky or you have fans of train wrecks watching the program.

I didn't think it was the strongest of pilots, but I like the premise enough that I want to give it some time to mature.  I am also willing to give them a chance to prove that they do have things planned out to at least the season finale, and will provide some answers along with the mounting questions.

The show packed a lot of twists in the first episode.  My fear of twists is that some writers think it is a fine substitution for a well-crafted story.  It isn't.  I hope, we just don't have guys changing sides and revealing massive shockers, all in a hope that no viewer realizes there isn't a plot.  The twists were fine for the premiere, because things need to get established.  We now have an idea of who is militia and who is trustworthy and who has USB keys necklaces and who is just a bunch of mysterious words on a mysterious computer.  So, now I'm ready for a story to be told while an occasional sprinkling of twists and mystery get added.

We've got a band of heroes that at the moment are just trying to save the main female character Charlie's brother.  The brother looks like he'll pass the time by getting free and then getting captured again.  At some point, he will have to be transported by the dastardly militia man to the even more (I assume) dastardly Monroe.  This is all an attempt to lure out Miles who is the boy's uncle, and also a guy who apparently can kill thirty people in about 20 seconds by just waving a sword around really fast.  I'm sure I am supposed to ooh and awe about his awesome fighting skills, but I spent my whole time wondering if he was being played by MacGyver or not.  He just didn't seem to possess that "I even eat my corn flakes like a bad ass" kind of charisma.  I like that Charlie the girl seems to be the main star, though I kind of get the feeling she is in the position because someone realized Hunger Games is really popular.  This would explain why she always carries a bow around, and actually, the bow seems to be the weapon of this world.  The rest of the merry band of heroes consists of an English doctor who was banging Charlie's dad before he died (not due to the sex, but rather bullet -- or was it an arrow?  Anyway, he is dead).  Of course, the dad had to die, because he is the only one that may actually know why the power turned off 15 years ago, or at least, we thought that until the end of the show.  The final member of the traveling heroes is a rather chubby fellow who is allergic to bees, and a reveal that made me smile, was once a major part of a little company called Google.  Unfortunately, Google doesn't mean much in a world where horses are the only transportation and computers are used to hold flowers.

The series looks like it will have to be told as one large tale cut in episodes rather than a collection of standalone episodes.  I'm sure you could do one episode of the merry gang helping a farmer find his cattle and another where they must battle scavengers riding mountain goats.  It would be an appealing choice to a producer since it will help draw out the series, but it will also likely result in people losing interest quick.  They'd sold this show on the mystery of the power going out and Charlie out to find answers while saving her brother.  The series will work best if each episode plays off the next and builds the canon.  There is a definite risk that they'll need to start throwing out some convoluted issues in order to stretch out the series.  This is why I hope they do have an ending in mind, and maybe even the actual number of seasons they want to produce.  Of course, that is a rather optimistic belief for network television.

It was a decent start.  I didn't really feel attached to any characters.  The premise was enough to keep me interested, and I do want to find out the answers to the questions they dropped.  Of course, I assume most will be kept hidden for most of the season, if not the series.  In order to keep me engaged, they will need to throw an occasional nugget.

I don't know if this will be the next Lost.  I never even watched the show.  It is one of the more intriguing ideas on TV, and now, they just have to hope their current cast can help drive the stories.  If they have actual plans in place, then it has potential to be a fun and compelling sci-fi series.

3 comments:

  1. Brodahl1:20 am

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  2. I really enjoyed the premiere of Revolution, although not everybody did. My coworkers at Dish, for example, were pretty split on whether they liked it or not. I am one of the ones that did like it, but that can be changed at any time in future episodes, so I’m glad that it records with my Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature and I don’t have to choose it over any other shows on Mondays. I know Eric Kripke from Supernatural and at least for that show he had a clear cut plan for 5 seasons of Supernatural, so hopefully he does the same thing with Revolution now. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next week; this could be an incredible show going forward!

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  3. If they've planned out the major plot points for the next five seasons then this show really does have potential to be a hit. Of course, a plan doesn't mean much if it ends up all being that it was a dream or something else rather awful and contrived. It at least should mean they don't just start throwing shit at the wall in an attempt to keep the mystery going and stretching out the series.

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