The lineup behind NBC’s new show Revolution, which aired on Monday night, reads like a geek's post-apocalyptic-television-series dream come true. The show was created and written by Eric Kripke, the creator/showrunner from Supernatural; JJ Abrams of Lost fame is one of the executive producers, Ironman's Jon Favreau is another executive producer AND he directed the pilot episode; and the incomparable Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad is in it.
This sounds like a slam dunk, does it not? With that kind of pedigree, what could possibly go wrong with this new series?
PLENTY, as it turns out. Cranky, dissatisfied, critical spoilers ahead:
We start things off with a flashback to Pre-Event days, when everyone had electricity. Holy cow, look at all that electricity, life was so great back then! Check out the kid on the couch dicking around with an iPad, while another kid sits saucer-eyed in front of cartoons and ignores the iPhone being waved in her face! Man, those were the days.
Suddenly, Dad -- aka Ben Matheson -- busts in the door and starts babbling about how they need more water and oh my god, they don't have much time. Mom looks freaked out because that's the exact facial expression she always had when she was on that other sci-fi series, V. "It's happening, isn't it?"
What's happening? A couple of military bros having a sausage party in their car while blasting AC/DC, that's what's happening. Oh wait, that's Ben's brother Miles … and some random guy who probably isn't important to the show at all. Ben calls Miles on his cellphone (electricity!) and starts yammering incoherently: "It’s all gonna turn off. It’s gonna turn off, and it will never, ever turn back on!"
Miles is like DUDE WHAT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THESE RIGHTEOUS TUNES AND ALSO IF YOU ARE TRYING TO WARN ME ABOUT A MASSIVE CIVILIZATION-DESTROYING EVENT YOU ARE GOING ABOUT IT IN A REALLY INEFFECTUAL WAY and then the connection cuts out because fucking Verizon, man. Wait no, it's a giant EMP or something, which is hitting the line of cars on the highway one by one like dominoes instead of all at once because that makes for better visuals!
Just before the lights go out and planes start pinwheeling out of the sky, Ben manages to download something onto a mysterious device that totally looks like a necklace he bought off Etsy. Good thing he had such a sci-fi-looking data-storing pendant on hand instead of a corporate-branded novelty USB stick like EVERYONE ELSE EVER.
Fast forward 15 years! Now we're in a rural-looking place where people are tending to lush-looking crops and a bearded guy is teaching kids about the big blackout (whereas "teaching" = "providing the viewing audience with the information that no one knows why it happened"). Hold up, all they're eating is food grown by their own hands and this guy's still pudgy? THE PALEO DIET IS ALL A BUNCH OF LIES! *stuffs fifteen candy-corn flavored Oreos in mouth*
Ben's daughter Charlie and his son Danny are roaming around "hunting," because Hunger Games. Also, Danny has asthma, as evidenced by a lot of dramatic gasping and no wheezing whatsoever. Maybe you're just having a panic attack, Danny. Have you tried Ativan HA HA HA J/K LOL I mean have you tried, like, boiled dandelion leaf.
Now here come the bad guy militia, led by Captain Tom Neville (Esposito). Wow, I barely recognize him without all the good acting. He's apparently looking for Ben, and things progress to a showdown at the Utopia Corral when Danny gets a little goosey and starts pointing his crossbow at people and aw, would you look at that, Ben takes a bullet to the chest.
Danny gets dragged away by the militia and Ben chokes out his last words to his daughter: There. IS. Another. Sky. Walk -- no, he tells her to find Miles in Chicago because only Miles can get Danny back. What? But why is … oh too late, dead.
Road trip! Charlie, the bearded guy named Aaron (who has the Etsy Necklace of Mystery because Ben slipped it to him before having the good sense to die and thus leave this show), and Ben's girlfriend Maggie head out of town. We learn that Aaron used to work for Google and that he's here to provide some pop culture tidbits and comic relief, as is the plight of all hapless chubby guys in formulaic television shows. We don't, however, learn how Charlie and Maggie are making their long hair look like something out of a magazine, what with this being a dystopian future where there are no hair products or styling tools.
Charlie runs into a handsome, crossbow-carrying dark-haired guy in the woods because, again, Hunger Games. He seems nice! Just look at him smolder.
Meanwhile Danny, who is totally boring, manages to escape the militia and run to some house that's coated with pollen and so he promptly has an asthma attack. He wakes up in the house of a nice lady who gives him an inhaler and thus hopefully puts an end to all the gasping-related plot points.
Back in Chicago, the gang of three navigate the comically rough-and-tumble streets (no electricity = lots of Old-West fistfights) before arriving at a bar where they instantly find Billy Bob Thorton Bella's dad Miles. Boy, that was a piece of luck. Charlie tries to convince him to help get Danny back, but he's like, no way kid I have all this here whiskey to drink, plus no offense but your emotional range in this scene is seriously crap. But then it turns out that Handsome Smoldering Dude is a member of the militia, and a fight breaks out that is TOTALLY HILARIOUS. Guns! Swords! Crossbows! It's like the stairway scene in Kill Bill but performed by dudes who took one course of fencing during their freshman year in college.
Bad guys taken care of, Unky Miles decides he'll help the gang after all. Whew! But where's Danny, again? Oh yeah back at the nice lady's house, where she instantly gives him up when Captain Neville comes knocking on her door. D'oh.
Now it's flashback time again, so we can see that Miles' friend from the blackout night was actually the mysterious Monroe, the guy who's leading the present-day militia and making everyone get the same monogram tattoo he has. Ohhh, so I guess Monroe was able to somehow infer from Miles' end of the cellphone call that night that Ben knew what was happening and that's why he sent his troops out to find him? And I guess he probably waited 15 years to do this so Ben's daughter could be legally attractive and all.
Back to the present, it turns out the nice lady who turned Danny over to the militia has an Etsy necklace just like Ben's. She plugs it into a steampunk-looking pile of machinery and holy shit, it boots up a computer! Sweet, now she can use Google and watch movies and -- oh, dammit. DOS. She types a message to someone: SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?
Ha. No, she types,
>> The militia was here.
<< Did they find it?
(Well DOY, like she'd be sending the message if they had, whatever "it" is.)
>> So… what now?
What indeed, Revolution. Will the wooden, painfully made-for-TV acting get better? Will Charlie stop trying to be a second-rate Katniss and start being a character I don't actively want to die in a fire? Will useless Danny stop having asthma attacks every half hour? Will anyone explain how Bearded Aaron has a mint condition AC/DC shirt 15 years after the collapse of civilization?
What did you think of Revolution? Are you going to keep watching?
Image via NBC