Revolution poster CityTV at Fan Expo

A couple of weeks ago at Fan Expo in Toronto, City TV held an advanced screening of the premiere episode of J.J. Abrams’ new TV series “Revolution”. This episode was directed by Jon Favreau, actor and director of movies such as Swingers and Iron Man. As I was not asked to sign an NDA I’ve gathered some thoughts on it and tried to keep spoilers to a minimum but if you’re still not looking to read on I’ll just say that I enjoyed the first episode despite some minor issues and that I’m willing to give the show a chance, hoping it doesn’t become horrible.

I original wrote this review almost two weeks ago but I dragged my ass on posting it for so long that you can now watch the first episode on the NBC web site so forget my review, just go watch it.

Revolution Chicago

The premise of the series is simple and can be inferred quite easily from the trailer. Something, we’re not told what, happens which makes the power go out and then 15 years later we’re shown the world which now exists. This pretty much happens right away as only a short few minutes are shown at the onset of the episode and then quickly this event occurs, and we immediately begin to follow the real flow of the story of this post apocalyptic future world.

Revolution - Title screen

The opening scene included one of the main characters’ mother who we’re later told has died. Somehow I’m thinking this is not completely true, though time will tell. Regardless I feel that the narrative of the show will frequently be used to show us characters who are or are thought to be dead because there will likely often be flashbacks to events occurring shortly after the blackout to help explain the story which is unfolding in the future. In this sense the storytelling seems similar to Lost in it’s ability jump around in time though the frequency of these will be far less, if this episode is to be any indication.

Revolution pilot lights going out in cars

While we’re talking about Lost, another J. J. Abrams series, it should be noted that a lot of aspects of this series are somewhat similar. No, they’re not on a desert island but the entire world is essentially similar to the Lost island as seen in the first season or so. We have people sort of trapped in this world without technology, where certain skills are wasted but others are hugely beneficial, such as every character’s ability to track! Perhaps every character’s backstory will also teach us that they all learned this skill from their father, with whom they have a complicated relationship. Hell, a few of the main characters have a pretty damned complicated relationship with their father, who will likely not be in many episodes after the first…

Revolution empty city

The world is pretty interesting. This is kind of the hook that will make or break the show. The apocalypse is cool, people like this kind of thing, apparently, but by that same token a lot of shows are doing this kind of thing and it’s possible people are getting burnt out on it. By taking away technology you give the show a mix of new and old, picking and choosing what you want. Guns still work, to some extent, but hey the Militia doesn’t want people to own them, so we now have a plot device which makes the use of bows, crossbows and swords useful again. Who brings a knife to a gun fight? Everybody when there are no guns!

Revolution - Bows are the new guns

Combat… that sure is crazy in this show. There are a lot of crazy fight scenes just in this one episode. At one point a single man who’s “good at killing people” (like that’s a thing…) is seen fighting off a veritable army of armed invaders with only a sword. Realism very quickly flies out the window as the attackers brandish firearms and are still powerless to stop this man.

Revolution - Crazy choreographed fight sequence

Also, bows are cool! Lots of bow play, because bows are hot right now what with the Hunger Games and that loser Hawkeye from Avengers. The show’s pretty girl, Tracy Spiridakos, has a crossbow in the first episode and uses it with some ability. There’s also a guy with a bow with some crazy abilities.

Revolution - Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson

So yeah, the pretty girl. She’s … pretty? I’m not entirely clear if she’s supposed to be the main character or if her uncle is. All I do know is her uncle is played by one douchey guy! The starting of the screening was delayed quite a bit. Finally we learned why, they were waiting for Billy Burke to come in and introduce it. In he comes wearing sunglasses indoors apparently straight off his flight. He says about a sentence and a half and then is out the door before some host from City TV asks us to give him a hand, but he’s gone.

Revolution - Billy Burke as Miles Matheson

Also on the show is a guy who’s 41 who was supposed to a billionaire or something before the blackout. He claims to own a plane… at 26? Yeah not really buying that.

Revolution - This guy owned a plane 15 years ago

Which brings me to a major issue I have with the show. They make zero attempt to make anyone look older during this 15 year break. All of the people who were adults before it don’t really look like they’ve aged a day. Did power stop people from aging? Would you give up your iPhone to achieve immortality? If you even stopped to think about that I’ll shoot a crossbow bolt right into your throat, and I can do that even if you have a gun!

Revolution - The lights go out

Let’s also look at the source of the power outage. It’s obviously a main plot point that we’re not supposed to know the specifics of, but there really isn’t anything that makes much physical sense that could explain this. All power going out could be attributed to some sort of EMP, but then new devices could work. Even fundamental changes in the way electromagnetism works to make electricity impossible would only explain some of the things in the show such as powered devices and batteries, but don’t do much to explain why cars don’t work. Modern cars all use batteries and often computers, but nothing would stop someone from making a more low tech car and driving circles around all the horses these bitches are riding.

Revolution - Modern computer

Finally, the show seems to have a Lost level of mystery to it. We have secret characters revealed to have interesting connections, people who seem to have some limited access to power and unseen people responding to computers. While people were looking to the horrible Flash Forward to be the new Lost it certainly was not it, but this show looks like it could be.

Revolution - There's lots of crying

But people liked Lost because it was something new, something different. A show that is like Lost is neither of those things, but that’s not to say people won’t like it just the same. For now I was pleased with the premiere, despite it being riddled with many bad cliches, and only time will tell if the show can sustain this premise to keep the story interesting or just fall on it’s face.

Revolution - Crappy little town

The event was quick to constantly remind us of the show’s premiere on the Canadian channel City TV at 10pm on September 17th. Americans can catch the show at the same date and time on NBC.

Billy Burke and Tracy Spiridakos at the Revolution Q&A at Fan Expo

The next day at the convention there was a Q&A with stars Tracy Spiridakos and Billy Burke who also stuck around to sign these cool glow in the dark posters they were giving away.

Glow in the dark Revolution posters

Revolution poster glowing