Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall TV: Revolution

When I first heard the premise of the new series written by Eric Kripke (who fashioned the first five seasons of Supernatural into a closed arc before the CW decided to keep it going without him and reversed a lot of what he’d done) and produced by JJ Abrams (who’s worked on a bunch of shows but I’ve never watched any of them… ha HA), I was excited. And also a little sad because a friend of mine had just written a book that was EXACTLY this premise, and now when his book comes out it would look like he poached the show’s premise, when in fact he’d been writing it for five years (it is still coming out and I’ll keep you posted on it!)

But I also thought the title was clever, because I didn’t see it meaning a revolution in the sense of rebels fighting to break away from a common system, but a RE-evolution. As in, they are being forced to evolve again. And sure enough, when I saw the opening credits (as usual with JJAbrams shows, they’re two and a half seconds long), you see the word “evolution” appear first — and in a clever touch, the O is a power sign — and the “r” flickers into place to let you know that’s, in fact, what it is. Now I wonder if I should be pronouncing it “REEvolution” when talking about the show.

I’ve had a number of people email me to ask if I’d be blogging about the show, and I wanted to actually give the show a couple of weeks to see what I thought about it. Several people had already seen the pilot in advance, but it’s usually the second episode that either intrigues me or leaves me cold.

I’ll admit, I was cracking jokes during the first week: “Oh look, a woman with a Commonwealth accent and long wavy blonde hair who says ‘Chah-lie’ a lot!” “JULIET!!!” “Oh look, a girl who refuses to stay behind and is an expert tracker in the woods!” “Check it out, the father doesn’t age: he’s RICHARD ALPERT!!” “OMG, she has an ABOVEGROUND hatch with the same IBM computer!!”

But seriously, those were in jest. I wasn’t looking at this being the next Lost, and it really isn’t. And that’s because like Lost, JJ Abrams is a producer, and he’s let Eric Kripke step up to be the head writer.

I actually quite like what I’ve seen so far. Here’s the premise in a nutshell: In the present day, a father comes home in a hurry and tells his wife that the power is about to go out forever. And then… it does. His brother is across town in a car with an annoying friend who is texting his girlfriend when everything shuts off, and he only hears the beginning of the phone call, as does the texting friend. Flash to 15 years in the future, the world is full of overgrown weeds and cities look disgusting, and in the countryside everyone has become Amish. Jebediah Aaron is the local smart guy who had been an exec at Google before the lights went out and all the money in his bank accounts became worthless, Ben has now hooked up with Claire Maggie, and his daughter Katniss Charlie is out with a crossbow hunting for deer. And then some military guy who looks remarkably like Gus Fring (and as a TV viewer, I instinctively shudder) shows up on a horse and says the dad has to come with him, that Monroe needs him. Ben’s son, Danny, grabs a crossbow and threatens the army guys, and then a bloodbath ensues, with dad being hit and killed. So… Gus takes Danny instead. Charlie hears the shots (military guys get guns) and comes running, but it’s too late, and now we find out her mom has died along the way, her dad is now dead, and the brother that she’d been charged with taking care of has been taken away. Just before dying, Ben hands Aaron a silver locket, inside which has all of the downloaded documents (we presume) of the thing that caused the blackout in the first place. This talisman becomes the hope of the series: if Aaron can get this to the right people, then all will be restored.

Charlie heads out with Aaron and Maggie, and meets up with Miles, her uncle, who had been in the car. Miles has these super mad skills when it comes to fighting, and Charlie had met up with a guy in the militia on the way (he was undercover so she thought he was a friend) and when Miles discovers who Nate is, he’s furious, knowing that he’s stayed hidden all this time and Charlie’s uncovered him. He kills everyone in an awesome fight scene and leaves with the new motley crew.

And throughout you can’t help but wonder, who is Monroe? And what does he want with Ben, Danny, and Miles? Turns out (in the final reveal of the ep), he’s the guy who’d been texting in the car, who would have overheard Miles’s conversation, who was also an army guy trained with Miles, and who would know Ben had something to do with it, and that Miles and the family must know something. Dum dum DUM!!

The second episode was far less formulaic (the first one had to be for a reason) and you realize Charlie’s smarter and more kickass than we were originally led to believe. After part of the group breaks off, we’re now in several parts. Maggie and Aaron are trying to get the pendant to the right people; Charlie and Miles have teamed up with Nora; Monroe is a crazy scary badass who, turns out HAS CHARLIE’S MOTHER! (and somehow Charlie’s mother was in a superior position to him, how or why we don’t yet know) and it’s enough to keep me tuning in week after week.

And what of the electricity going out? We don’t know why, but interestingly they’re not focusing on it too much: it’s not like every conversation is about the power going out, because they’ve lived with it for 15 years and this is the new reality. However, there will be flashbacks to the immediate aftermath that show us how they had to adjust to these new lives.

The highlight of the series so far has been the conversation Maggie has with Aaron, when he laughs at the fact she still totes around an iPhone with her. She doesn’t answer at first, and then eventually, in a very sad and angry way, says every single photo of her children is in that phone. She never printed them off, and they were always had her fingertips with a swipe of a button. She keeps it with her because is a Brit who got stuck in the US when the lights went out, and now can’t get back home, and has been separated from her children… as she puts it, she stares at the phone because she’s starting to forget what they look like. (My heart ached during that scene, just imagining what that must be like… and also made me wonder, is there no one in 15 years who could have started some sailing business to get people who were stranded on one side over to the other? Hm…)

I like this show a lot, and didn’t expect to. I’m looking forward to week 3. Have you seen the show yet? What did you think? 


Dusk said...

For me, it's good not great. Not a big physics person so don't really pay atention to people who pick at the science of the power going out, it's sci-fi anyay I just let that go.

Good: The iPhone moment.

Charlie was getting on my nerves at the whole "Because we're family" bit over and over but she admitted she let her gaurd down and was off sulking and thats why they got her brother. I can symphathize trying to look after someone with a medical condition that could just spring up as well.

Making Neville not a stock villian, he has a wife, takes the time to bury one of his soilders. Monroe doesn't go for torture, at least right away.

Having Juli-Rachel show up and the end of episode 2. In the promotion they kept teasing we might see her again. Any fanboy or fangirl of this genre knows you don't put EM in the main cast just for flashbacks only, good they didn't drag it out.

Bad: Stupidity of the bad guys. If you capture Myles by showing him hostages, bring the hostages with you to control him or at least knock him out. And if you want to capture him alive, cutting off limbs is not a good idea.

They made a whole thing of Charlie killing for the rifle in Ep 2,but did she not just crossobow a thug to help Myles in Ep 1?

A guy is threatening little kids for food a week after the blackout? Way too soon.

"Nate" saves Charlie and she leaves him handcuffed to follow her later. Way too cheesy and melodramatic.

Questions: I'm bad with geography but how far away is this Grace person from were they used to live? Danny got recaptured at her house a day or two after he was taken. But Aaron says it's going totake a long time to find her. (Also have noidea how long all this walking is supposed to take place-a day? A week? A few weeks? Some reference of time would be good).

Nora's joined rebels that want to bring back the US. Myles says they;ll kill her for "this". What? Getting a rifle, freeing slaves? You would think the rebels would reward her for those things.

Page48 said...

@Dusk: "A guy is threatening little kids for food a week after the blackout? Way too soon." He looked like the sorta guy who might've been doing that before the blackout.

Some guy here listed all of the recurring Bad Robot names appearing here in the very early days of "Revolution". For the sake of brevity, the list includes:


My guess is they'll run the full gamut before pulling 'Felicity' out of mothballs.

Nora is fresh off of "Covert Affairs", where she had a 2-eppie gig as Auggie's therapist.

The Question Mark said...

@ NIKKI: I was laughing right there along with you during the pilot LoL "Hey, look, an overweight, nerdy, comic relief guy who used to be a multi-millionaire but now lives in a harsh world where money no longer matters!"

I was also actually brainstorming an idea for a book with a kinda similar presence, and I froze when I heard about this show a few months back! Thankfully, Kripke looks to be going in a different direction. I'm curious about your friend's book, Nik, let me know how that goes!

The show's pretty good so far. I wouldn't say I love it, but I'm intrigued enough to keep on watching. The little twists definitely are nice. The whole idea of Monroe's regime and a bunch of patriots rebelling for freedom REALLY brings to mind the American Revolution (which is bound to be a hot topic this fall when Assassin's Creed III comes out and takes over my life for a few weeks :P). Even the name "Sebastian Monroe" sounds like it would have been pretty common back in 1776.

Speaking of names, is there an unwritten rule that every TV show has to have a character named Charlie in it? Seriously, I'm looking at all of the TV DVDs on my shelf right now, and every single one of them has a main character named Charlie in them. WTF? In real life, I've only ever met one guy named Charlie. I smell a conspiracy.

TM Lawrence said...

Greatest promise since a neurosurgeon opened his eyes to the canopy and sky above. I might start watching TV again. Moral ambiguity, an evil militia contorted out of hard realism of survivors in an evil more evil anarchic dystopia of the post-apocalypse, crossbows, Elizabeth Mitchell?

High hopes are often dashed but this one is off to a more-than-intriguing start. Hope you stick with it, Nikki...