Spoiler-free Revolution pilot review

Review Kaci Ferrell
26 Jul 2012 - 16:46

At Comic-Con, Kaci caught the Jon Favreau-directed pilot of Revolution, NBC’s new sci-fi drama produced by J.J Abrams. Here’s what she thought…

The trouble with Revolution is that, like many mythology shows, it all hangs on the big reveal. Incorrectly marketed as taking place in a world devoid of all forms of energy – as many people have complained, this is patently impossible - Revolution is set in a world in which anything that throws a spark outside the human body has mysteriously stopped working. No electricity, no cars, no airplanes, not even battery power. In one moment, all of these things simply cease to function for absolutely no apparent reason.

Obviously, this makes no sense. Try as I might search my brain, I can't think of anything that could explain the laws of physics breaking down short of magic, though creator Eric Kripke has promised in several interviews that the blackout does indeed have a scientific basis.

Because of this, when the big reveal finally does happen, be it at the end of the first season or several seasons down the line if the show is so lucky, it either has to be an amazing explanation that blows our minds, or it's going to leave a lot of people yelling angrily at the TV screen.

Let's hope for all of our sakes that the reveal comes sooner rather than later, because otherwise, I don't think we're going to get to hear it. Because unfortunately, even aside from its universe-defying premise, at this admittedly early stage, Revolution is simply not that good.

This is not to say it's entirely bad, either - Billy Burke is surprisingly entertaining as Miles Matheson, formerly of the armed forces and now running what is left of a bar in the ruins of Chicago. This role receives what is easily Kripke's best writing in the pilot, and Burke handles the stern, ass-kicking, but surprisingly comedic part well.

The same, however, cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Led by Tracy Spiridakos as main character Charlie, the bulk of the cast is somewhat stiff, and none more so than Spiridakos herself. The character is fairly unlikable to begin with. Having grown up in a sheltered community after the blackout, Charlie defies both her father and common sense because of her desire to see the ruins of big cities. Doing so is dangerous not only because of the gangs that now run wild throughout the country, but also because of The Militia, a mysterious, threatening organization that exists purportedly to uphold order but which reminds the viewer more of the Sheriff of Nottingham than a proper law enforcement agency.

But it's not just the writing or editing of Charlie's character that leaves me cold – Spiridakos' portrayal of the character is wooden and vacant in the pilot, something that will need to improve along with the writing as the season progresses if she’s to become any more likeable a lead.

The effects of the blackout on the planet are well-thought out, and I enjoyed the world-building of a post-blackout society. Without giving anything away, there are a handful of genuinely surprising twists and turns to be had. But unfortunately, none of that can compensate for an unlikable lead character played by an actress with limited range, nor for a premise that feels impossible to pay off in any satisfying manner.

I want Revolution to succeed and to blow my mind with a huge reveal that somehow explains everything, but after seeing the pilot, I'm honestly not sure it'll stay on the air that long.

Revolution begins on NBC at 10pm on Monday the 17th of September in the US.

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