Entertainment Magazine

Review #3691: Revolution 1.1: “Pilot”

Posted on the 20 September 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Eric Kripke
Directed by Jon Favreau

It’s getting much more difficult to impress viewers with pilot episodes in the wake of Lost’s departure from television. Shows that have huge casts and sprawling mythologies are becoming less successful with every passing season. The JJ Abrams name and brand lives on though, and “Revolution” has that attached to it so that comes with the baggage it entails.

Review #3691: Revolution 1.1: “Pilot”

The pilot episode is based on the entire premise (and it’s a relevant one in this day and age of increasing dependence on technology) of what society would do if a complete worldwide power blackout occurred. Unfortunately, the show elects to fast-forward into the post-apocalyptic future to show how people cope (the budget for the pilot would probably balloon if they showed the immediate aftermath of the blackout in full) with the occasional flashback to illuminate what occurs when the world goes dark. Time will tell if this proves to be an effective and consistent storytelling method or a one-off for the pilot only.

The show is going to need a couple of episodes to flesh out the characters because the cast is big and doesn’t make much of a first impression. Aside from Charlie, the attractive presumable lead hero character who seeks out her long-lost uncle in the wake of her father’s quick death. I’m also intrigued by Captain Neville, the character played by Giancarlo Esposito, who plays this underling to the mysterious General Monroe. Neville could be the sole character who toes the line between bad and good, which I think is the way Esposito plays it in the Pilot episode. Beyond that, I got the typical whiplash from keeping up with all of these characters and their relationships with each other. Charlie’s father downloads some data from his laptop just before the blackout and seems to be one of the few characters on the show who knows the cause of the blackout. Then he goes and dies in the middle of the episode, thus telling his daughter to seek out his brother to “help” with the cause.

That’s the problem with keeping knowledge of a key event in only one character’s hands. Charlie’s father doesn’t prepare her for the dangers of the world they live in, and Charlie is too trusting of the people out there. It should be common knowledge by now that in a post-apocalyptic world, society’s rules break down and it’s usually every person for themselves. I worry that “Revolution” will just become one long road show. Where the characters are constantly on the move, encountering new aspects of the world they live in, one where the sole different part of it is that it is without power. So this involves a lot of gunplay, swordplay (at least according to Miles, who is quite handy with a sword), and alcohol. All staples of any show or film that depicts a post-apocalyptic world. What is different from anything else we have seen already? What will draw us in? It cannot be answered in a 45-minute episode.

Ultimately, the pilot episode stops short, just before it gets more interesting. I should think that it wasn’t a coincidence that Danny, Charlie’s asthmatic brother, gets rescued by a doctor who happens to know exactly what to do with the power pendant around Danny’s neck. Perhaps that’s why Charlie’s father doesn’t tell her anything. The show becomes a journey of discovery about this new world and how to live in it. The pilot for “Revolution” is surprisingly sparse on details about its characters. Charlie has some skill with weapons that aren’t guns. She could have a budding romance with Nate, a guy who may or may not be on the side of the evil General Monroe. (By the way, I think all of these people are too good-looking to be in a world without power, but I digress.)

I also don’t quite get the motives of General Monroe, but again that is the fault of having just 45 minutes to tell a story. It’s apparently a big twist that he used to be Miles’ friend (at the time the world went dark) and somewhere along the way, Monroe became the antagonist of the story. The twist is well-hidden up until the final moments of the episode, but I got the sense it didn’t make as big an impact as it should have. I think it’s partly because we know nothing of Monroe except that he controls many of the militias that have popped up since the blackout. The pilot episode for a big mythology show like this has to do a lot of heavy lifting. That includes introducing the characters and making them appealing, designing a good hook for the audience in terms of storytelling, and then building the world. This pilot episode succeeded in some parts, but it needs major development in others. The episodes that follow should tell us if that can be done.

Score: 6/10

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