Imagine a world with no ice cream.
It’s just one of the concepts that Revolution asks you to consider, along with a future void of power and technology, where run-down cities and abandoned airplanes are staples of the landscape. The post-apocalyptic series, helmed by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) is JJ Abrams’ newest offering to primetime television and one that sets up an intriguing premise: what would happen if one day, all the electric and electronic power on earth simply disappeared?
In the Revolution world, families living together are struggling to survive in rural farming communities while an army-like group known as the Monroe Militia (helmed by Captain Tom Neville, aka Breaking Bad’s wonderful Giancarlo Esposito) presides over every free individual, attempting to establish order in the place of government rule. While the show certainly plays up the mythology card with several key scenes that seem to set the stage for bigger mysteries and questions (including hints to the fact that not all the power in the world may be lost forever if the right equipment exists), the core of the series is centered on the Matheson family where 15 years after the blackout, single father Ben (Tim Guinee) is raising his two kids, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Danny (Graham Rogers) along with his best friend Aaron (Zak Orth) and doctor girlfriend Maggie (Anne Lise Phillips.) Charlie gets involved with the Militia after a conflict with Danny that involves Ben being mortally wounded, and along with Aaron and Maggie, she sets out on a journey to Chicago in hopes of finding Ben’s brother, Miles (Billy Burke.)
For the most part the cast gels nicely, with Burke making a big impression as Charlie’s reluctant-to-help cousin. Spiridakos’ take-charge personality, instinct for adventure and ever-present weaponry makes it easy to see why numerous comparisons have been drawn between the character of Charlie and The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen and similarly, while it’s not a surprise to say that Esposito has a distinct presence as the menacing “Sheriff of Nottingham,” it’s quite nice to see him back on television playing another character with a quietly evil demeanor. We don’t see much of Charlie and Danny’s mother, Rachel (LOST’s Elizabeth Mitchell) and while it’s indicated that she’s more or less out of the picture, I personally refuse to believe that the show would go so far as to recast the character (originally played by Andrea Roth) without having more of a plan in mind. Despite being in only two small scenes Mitchell instantly captures attention and I’m excited to see not only more of her story but also how her character inevitably figures into the bigger picture at some point down the road.
As a whole, Revolution is enjoyable and certainly sets up an interesting concept, though one not unlike what’s come before it (ie: Flash Forward, The Event, Terra Nova.) With such a heavy science fiction premise, the success of the show will undoubtedly hinge on the way the show moves into its mythology, as well as the relationships of the characters and their development going forward – and although I’m not entirely familiar with Kripke’s work, I’m hopeful that component will be recognized. Still, the pilot (directed by Jon Favreau) is tightly packed with multiple fight sequences and sweeping landscape shots (downed planes, abandoned buildings, deserted baseball stadiums), all which serve to draw us into the story and introduce us to the type of world we’re going to be involved with. It’s ambitious and attractive and perhaps what many would consider a gamble for network television – but when has that ever stopped a show from becoming a success?
It’s my personal feeling that most critics will be quick to dismiss the series as another doomed science fiction venture, or regard it in comparison to the pop culture phenomenon that was LOST. In truth, right now Revolution is neither Flash Forward nor LOST…but the characters and intriguing premise give it the potential to become something that can both stand on its own and be interesting enough to keep the attention of the audience. And the promise of that (along with one of my favorite actresses in a series regular role) is enough to keep me tuned in.
Photo Courtesy of NBC