TV Review - Revolution

The Matheson family has to deal with life following a massive power outage that not only takes out the entire grid worldwide, but, even individually-powered devices are permanently dead, which means no batteries work. Yes, this is against the laws of physics and, yes, the characters acknowledge this, but we're merely meant to accept it and move on. The show examines what life would be like, if humanity had electricity suddenly taken away, and the answer is after 15 years, the United States would basically revert to a feudal system, obviously agrarian-based. At times, it feels like the Middle Ages, but it also could be the Wild Wild West. The first episode could be the show competing with AMC's The Walking Dead, which at its core is just a post-apocalyptic survival tale. This show is also a post-apocalyptic survival tale, except it's a bit more hopeful than The Walking Dead. The writers are spinning a plot that humans could get electricity back. The problem is that the audience has to care if the characters get their electricity back, and not much is accomplished to get the audience to do so.

Creator and head writer Eric Kripke (Supernatural) wants us to care about Charlotte "Charlie" Matheson, the eldest daughter of the Matheson family. He also wants us to care about Danny Matheson, the teenage son of the Mathesons. We're supposed to care because they have an absent mother and especially because both witnessed the murder of their father, Ben. One would think that witnessing such a thing would be enough to get the audience to care about Charlie and Danny, but that only opens the door. It doesn't necessarily get the audience to enter.

The executive producer is JJ Abrams. His previous TV shows Lost and Alias had us caring about the characters almost immediately, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that a large part was due to the actors. The actor's performance is what gets us to be pulled along. Unfortunately, the actors who play Charlie and Danny don't pull along much of anything. Luckily, the show has Billy Burke who plays Charlie and Danny's uncle Miles Matheson and Emmy nominee Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) who plays Captain Tom Neville, the leader of a militia that rules the feudal system with an iron fist. Burke and Esposito add much needed gravitas, but their characters are so one-dimensional that it will take some time to warm to them. Yet, somehow, it didn't take much time at all to warm to Josh Holloway and Michael Emerson who played Sawyer and Ben respectively in Abrams' Lost. Sawyer and Ben are comparable to Miles and Captain Neville here.

David Lyons, formerly of NBC's The Cape, goes from playing a crime fighter in that cancelled series to all-around bad guy here. Apparently, there is an arc that his character named Sebastian Monroe has seen that gets revealed in flashback. Seeing how he became who he is might be interesting, but, as he stands now, he's simply boring. His villain-status is almost cartoonish or as comic book-like as The Cape was.

The first episode had Jon Favreau as its director, so there are some action scenes that are competently done. They're mostly ridiculous. There is an elaborate fight scene toward the end of the first episode and a slightly toned-down sword fight toward the end of the second that felt like fight scenes inserted for no reason but to have fight scenes. They didn't feel all that organic in its flow.

The show echoes all the same questions of morality that The Walking Dead explores. The morality doesn't pack as big a punch because of the cartoonish aspects. On one hand, those aspects are good. They give us Esposito acting as a psychopath. Yet, on the other hand, it also gives a mystery built into a premise with no real depth or substance. For those interested, I suppose the action scenes might excite, but, one can't take any of it seriously because there simply isn't a solid foundation. Without a solid foundation, the action just feels hollow.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Airs Mondays at 10PM on NBC.


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