CAUTION: SPOILERS ABOUND.
I deal with TV shows the same way I deal with friends: I don’t have many, and the ones I have get my undying loyalty. I thought Revolution might be a new addition to my life because J.J. Abrams produced it. While I couldn’t get into Lost–I don’t like a large cast on TV any more than I do in my own life, apparently–I adored Alias, and spent the past summer binging on Fringe.
The first few minutes of the pilot of Revolution shows the power shutting off all around the world, which is pretty cool-looking the way big disasters often are. We meet a family: a mom, dad, a girl named Charlie, and a boy named Danny. Fast-forward to the kids as young adults; mom is dead. Taking in this opening, plus the efficient if somewhat heavy-handed exposition, I think, Huh, this kind of reminds me of the pilot of Supernatural. Right then, Eric Kripke’s name flashes on the screen as the creator, and I get really excited.
Although we’re told millions of people died after the blackout, I’m still a little freaked out at how everyone is fishing, bow hunting, subsistence farming, folk-medicine-brewing, and riding horses like a boss. Only the former Google exec looks at all rough around the edges. Why does Charlie have such a cute jacket? Why does she look like she could be in a shampoo commercial?
After her dad gets shot dead by a militia guy, Danny gets abducted by his troop. Charlie, her dad’s girlfriend Maggie, and Aaron the Google guy go on a quest to find Charlie’s uncle so he can help find Danny. I learn that Charlie is brave, tough, loyal, earnest, and honestly, kind of a drag. Her “you’re not my mom” exchange with Maggie is just as boring as you would expect.
Maggie, who is British for some reason, has a good scene in which she foils attackers and would-be rapists by getting them to drink poisoned hooch. If there’s one thing I like to see, it’s a rapey dudes sputtering and dropping dead.
Our three adventurers here are white, and non-white actors have some of the supporting roles in the episode as the meanypants militia guy (Giancarlo Esposito), the a former doctor who plays Good Samaritan to Danny, and Nate, a militia kid who seems destined for more screen time as Charlie’s love interest.
Here’s Grace, the former doctor. Did I mention she has a computer she’s able to power up? What’s up with that, huh?
My geek heart compels me to give Revolution one more chance. Grace intrigues me, and maybe Charlie will grow on me, I think. After all, although I liked Olivia Dunham pretty well from the first, it took several episodes of Fringe to reveal that she was quite messed up in interesting ways.
In the beginning of the second episode we have another flashback to a wee Charlie being told to look out for her younger brother, bolstering her status as a thoroughly humorless Dean Winchester. I forgot to mention that our crew did find Charlie’s uncle Miles.
The militia tramples justice and freedom and such.The uncle leaves to go find a lady named Nora, who’s “good at blowing stuff up.” In the middle of the night, Charlie takes off after him, and Nate follows her but Charlie is tricksy and foils him. She catches up with her uncle and, in a painfully stilted scene, professes how she’s responsible for her brother.
Aaron has a magic pendant and he tells Maggie how he’s supposed to find Grace and give it to her. Can we just lose Charlie and Danny altogether and get to Grace?
Charlie and her uncle find Nora, played by the drop-dead gorgeous Danielle Alonso. Clearly after the blackout, some survival-of-the-hottest principle went into effect. The uncle busts her free from a chain gang, which she does not appreciate because she got arrested on purpose so she could steal a rifle from a guard. It seems like there might be easier ways to do this, but OK. Charlie, who balked at her uncle killing an enemy in the beginning, is willing to shoot people to help free the prisoners, and this goes pretty well.
Finally we get to Grace, and so do some bad guys. It’s a very short scene and disappointing. We learn that Charlie’s mom is still alive. Usually I love it when a character thinks someone is dead and she’s really not. It’s one of my favorite stories! Sadly, in this episode, I didn’t even care.
Every scene in Revolution carries the same deadening seriousness. They cover a lot of ground quickly, and maybe that’s part of the reason that the characters are so flat. The show is called Revolution because it’s going to tell a story about a resistance movement against the militias. In order to care about that, I have to care about the people first, and it’s just not happening for me.
I tried, Eric and J.J. I really did. Hey, I’ve got some good show ideas for you, though! Call me!