I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting sci-fi and fantasy television so when I heard about Revolution last fall, I decided to give it a chance. It had a fairly intriguing premise where essentially the power goes out throughout the world and everyone is left to cope without electricity. It also had a couple of big names tied to it including Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural, and J.J. Abrams (I don’t think I need to list Abram’s credentials at this point).
When I heard about the show, I really expected it to be about survival, about people learning to live without electricity. I expected there to be plenty of dangers to keep the show exciting and I hoped that there would be some larger, underlying plot that really drove things. What I got instead was a show set 15 years after the blackout in a former United States that is now broken up into large territories all vying for land and control. That wasn’t what I expected, but it still sounded promising. Unfortunately, the show didn’t live up to my hopes.
One of the things that I love about scripted television is that the writers have time to really develop characters. You can learn about their pasts, their hopes, their dreams, their fears. You can find out what they are made of and learn to love them or hate them. Revolution didn’t do that. They had the time, but they filled it with action sequences instead. It wasn’t the compelling writing that I expected from the likes of Kripke and Abrams.
I think that was really my chief complaint. I simply did not like any of the characters. That’s a big hurdle to overcome. I made it through the Battlestar Galactica reboot without truly liking the characters, but they were still deep, interesting individuals that I cared about, even if I didn’t actually like them. Revolution didn’t have that. Instead, it was full of single-minded, robotic characters. They got one idea into their heads and that was all that mattered.
Now, I’m going to nitpick a bit here, but there were a few other issues that I feel compelled to mention.
#1) The main characters walked literally all over the country, up and down the East Coast, from Georgia to Philadelphia to Colorado, and it seemed like no big deal. I’ll tell you what, that’s a huge deal. It would take months to walk those distances. Months of struggle and hunger and hardship, but instead the characters would complete the journey during a commercial break looking none the worse for it, hair and makeup still perfect. I don’t usually notice that kind of thing, but after awhile it really stood out to me as completely ridiculous.
#2) The writers constantly relied on the “out of frame” technique to allow characters to sneak up on each other. If the character isn’t on screen, then they can’t be seen, right? NO. That’s lazy writing. Real people have other senses and peripheral vision. In the finale, they actually had Monroe get sucker punched by a guy that appeared from off screen in front of him. Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure he would see the group of guys in his direct line of vision.
#3) The show was full of stormtroopers. What I mean by that is the good guys always hit their targets and the bad guys always missed. Miles is apparently so accurate that he would only bother to fire a single shot at this targets with his machine gun. This is a common issue with movies and television and I think we are all used to seeing it, but after awhile it becomes a crutch and it gets old.
I will give the show credit for one thing though: the action was great. I was really surprised at the quality of special effects that went into the show. I’m not sure if a single episode went by without explosions and other mayhem. Perhaps the show didn’t really that much action, but it looked good nonetheless.
Really, the show wasn’t that bad, but I was constantly aware of the fact that it could have been really good. I think that’s why I stuck with it through the whole season despite all my complaints; I just saw so much potential and I hoped that the show would get better. Unfortunately, it didn’t get better, at least in my estimation, and that probably means that I won’t watch it next season. It’s just not the show that I want it to be.