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TV Review: REVOLUTION – Pilot 1.1 on NBC From J.J. Abrams

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Amidst all the new and returning American TV shows this fall the one which I have been most excited about is Revolution, the new high concept vehicle brought to us from J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company. Mr Abrams is on somewhat of a sticky wicket right now, he really needs something to go his way, amongst the things I have watched lately his only success has been Person of Interest on CBS which is on it’s way back for a second season at the end of this month. Other than that Abrams has seen shows like The Event, FlashForward and Alcatraz cancelled after one season thanks to poor audiences, with his long running hit Fringe due to wrap with one more season he could really do with Revolution being the runaway hit which grabs everyone’s attention just like Lost did back in it’s day. Second to J.J needing this to work out NBC could really do with something which captures and audience right now too, as we all know what happened with their latest offering Awake.

They went all out on this “Pilot” episode as is usually expected from anything to do with Abrams, they even got movie Director John Faverau in to direct the first episode, a lot of what we saw in this episode was really the kind of scenery you see in movies and was shot really well, think overgrown cities in Will Smith’s I Am Legend, the way the vines wrap themselves around buildings, abandoned cars litter the overgrown streets and time seems to have come to a stand still, that’s the kind of scenes we get here. Away from the cities people have created little villages/settlements for themselves in vacant houses or simply just pitched tents in fenced off fields, back to a more basic time before the all important invention of electricity. Actually watching this opening episode cast my mind back to the summer and Danny Boyle’s extravagant London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, the staging regarding time before the Industrial Revolution had a very similar feel in what they were trying to portray.

To Revolution then, what did I think? I would say that I think the show looks like it’s going to be ok, not great but definitely worth your time on a weekly basis, we got introduced to so many people here in this opener that its hard to remember all their names and what their involvement may or may not be, but I’ll try and cover things in order that we don’t miss any key moments. I suppose the first of those would be the opening sequence where a frantic Ben (Tim Guinee, Person of Interest, The Fix) runs through his door announcing that “its all about to go off”, his daughter is sitting watching TV whilst his wife Rachael prepares their evening meal. Ben has in his possession a very modern USB stick which before all the power goes off he manages to download some data too, before calling his brother Miles (Billy Burke) to inform him that “It’s all going to turn off and never turn back on again”. Just then, all electrical appliances cease to work, mobile networks go down, cars bring themselves to a standstill and planes drop out the sky.

We then pick up 15 years later, when the villages I mentioned above have been formed, some people have remained living in the city’s and others including Captain Tom Neville (Breaking Bads Giancarlo Esposito) have formed the feared “Militia”, a seemingly renegade bunch who are after Ben and his brother Miles and we know very little about at this point. Ben is killed thanks to the efforts of his son Danny (Graham Rogers) who then takes off with his sister Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) in order to find their Uncle Miles in Chicago. Kind of a quick killing I suppose, really didn’t care much because at that point I really didn’t know enough about the characters, never mind I suppose its not really going to matter, I’m guessing he’s not that big of a part in the story (although according to IMDB he is in more than the “Pilot” episode, flashbacks obviously).

I’m intrigued enough to continue watching, although batteries no longer working would suggest energy source problems rather than electricity, I’m sure all will be revealed, probably not this season though, that’s what J.J will be hoping. There were a couple of nice twists, just enough to keep you with bated breath. The fact that Miles was obviously once friends with Captain Neville who now wants him would suggest that one or both of them know something that no one else does, the lady in the house situated in the middle of nowhere who has an identical USB device to that of the one Ben had in the opening sequence and uses it for electricity in her attic, before she finally boots up her computer to inform someone of the Militia’s presence at her home, could be interesting.

It’s definitely enough to keep me watching, I just hope we don’t end up with another FlashForward or The Event where it’s cancelled after one season and no answers ever come, we’ll see how things progress when the show premiere’s on NBC September 17th, I’ll speak about it again there. What did you think of Revolution? Will you be watching? Or, do you think this is another high concept idea which will last no longer than one season? Your comments and discussion are welcome below as always.
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