Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not So Revolutionary

The much-anticipated new J. J. Abrams television series 'Revolution' does not deserve its grandiose title by a long shot. The show's premise is great; a world gone dark, the total loss of electricity and the fate of a planet reduced to a pre-industrial agricultural world. A major blow to the pride of civilizations grown soft and dependent on trivialities and luxuries, too busy to look up from their phones to realize that they've lost their strongest asset: adaptability. The philosophical, moral implications are huge. There's more than enough material in there to cover endless seasons of questions, not just on the premise, but on the foundations of civilization, their rise and fall, our relationship with technology and our connection to the earth that sustains us.

The show was bursting with potential. And then it aired.

The premiere was more than disappointing. It was annoying. It's hard to know where to begin: the wooden acting, the predictable writing, the cheesy fight sequences, the stilted attempt at a 'story', the lack of chemistry between everyone in the cast, or the way it overpromised on its superb premise to underdeliver with all of the aforementioned.

Let's start with the starry-eyed optimism of what appears to be the main character, Charlie. She's a young woman who seems to believe in the inherent goodness of people and remembers a time when electricity still existed before her not-so-bad-looking life on a farm. Her father was one of the few people to understand the blackout and appears to have a clue from that time on how to get the power back. So ends the life of the most interesting person on the show, as he gets shot in the pilot within minutes of it starting. As for Charlie, you would expect that someone who had witnessed what was probably a traumatic shift for humankind, would be a little, well, harder.

As a matter of fact, this is one of the main problems with the show. You would expect a show with such a dark premise to be, well, darker. In a post-apocalyptic world gone dark, you would expect that there would be chaos, violence, blood, harrowing tales of human survival. Instead, you have this watered down, family friendly drama where everyone looks ridiculously clean and the dialogue is the only thing stiffer than the acting. There are no emotional connections formed with any of the characters, with the exception of a mild affection for the soft-bellied former Google tech wizard who can't fight, or the mild respect for the bad ass black dude who rocks the militia.

The attempts at 'romance' between Charlie and the militia man who, for some reason, can't stop himself from saving her multiple times despite the fact that he's tracking her as some sort of enemy of the state, are pathetic. The very fact that she needs so much saving is also a contributor to the annoyance factor. J.J.Abrams brought us such strong female characters as Sidney in 'Alias' and Kate in 'Lost' and then with this production, delivers a character who needs to get saved in the pilot-twice.

The attempts at creating family drama are even worse. Two episodes in, I couldn't care less whether or not they save her asthmatic brother. I'm also not sure why Miles even bothers with his little family, unless living has suddenly become boring. Apparently he's the family bad ass, but even he can't resist the doe eyes of his niece.

The show's format breaks down roughly into this: 20 minutes of boring drama, 10 minutes of fighting, 20 more minutes of boring drama, and 10 minutes on the actual conspiracy story which is of some flickering interest to the viewer. Unfortunately, the conspiracy story is not going to be enough. After suffering through two episodes of periodically yelling at characters and saying their lines with them because the script was so trite, I couldn't care less why the world went dark. Maybe someone spilled coke on the switchboard. Maybe someone at Apple got pissed off. Maybe it's the Russians. In any case, this is a series that deserves to stay in the dark.

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