Review: Revolution (Pilot)

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Pop Culture Posts, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

So, in general, I’m interested in this blog being a place of positive discussion–a place where I can be spaztastically enthusiastic about what’s going on in the spec fic genre. In other words: squee. I know more negatively oriented reviews have a place, but personally I’d much rather highlight material I love than bash stuff I hate. That said, I think it’s productive to talk critically about popular culture, if only for what it teaches us about ourselves.

It should go without saying that review posts may have spoilers. And snark. Definitely snark.

Revolution is a brand new series from NBC, produced by such industry BAMFs as J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke. The premise of the show is simple: what if all the technology died? Not just the lights or the internet, but also our cars, our jet engines, our iPhones–everything. What if countries broke up into fiefdoms, and independently organized militia prowled the land, enforcing their vision of law and order?

Given the general enthusiasm for dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction lately, it should be no surprise that something like Revolution cropped up eventually. (Thank you, Hunger Games.) What’s compelling about the series, however, isn’t the end of the world, but the fact that it’s a traditional quest story–a walking across the country quest story. With a heroine.

What’s happening with gender and dystopian science fiction is beyond fascinating and I hope we will talk about it at length very soon, but that’s in a nutshell what had me interested in Revolution.

Then, NBC put the entire pilot on their website. Seriously, go watch it. I’ll wait.

So, there are some exciting things going on here. The visuals are stunning and horrifying. Who isn’t in love with the notion of plants and wildlife retaking our major cities? (Or…is that just me?) The promised quest kicks off quickly. We’ve got a family dynamic, which has the potential to be emotionally compelling. Danger waits around every corner.

And yet, I had trouble caring.

I think some of it is the result of pacing. We get whipped through the end of our technocratic society and BAM! Suddenly it’s fifteen years later and the “village” is a reclaimed suburban cul-de-sac (btw, adorbs). Oh, look the family from the first ten minutes! Oops, except the Mom is dead! Oops! Except now the Dad is dead, too! And the asthmatic son is kidnapped! The daughter—whose mildly rebellious streak reminds me of Luke Skywalker’s “But I wanted to pick up some power converters!” bitchface–must find her estranged uncle to save him! Oh no! Rapists! Oh no! Militia attack! Check out how badass the estranged uncle is! WTF are these people’s names!?!?

(Btw, the estranged uncle is Bella Swan’s dad and, to be fair, this is a redeeming role for him.)

But essentially, I felt so jerked around that I had no immediate connection with the characters and so didn’t care when the Dad died, wasn’t worried when our heroine (Charlie) was in danger, and couldn’t give a womp rat’s ass if Uncle Miles tagged along on our epic quest or not. Why can’t 30 Rock and Community have full seasons again?

Even so, I’m going to watch the next episode. Why? For the same reason you watch the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy. The point isn’t that Luke starts out a hero. It’s that he becomes one. That said, the series is going to live or die with Charlie and whether she can become a compelling character and a heroine in her own right.

If you watched the pilot, what are your impressions? Are you going to keep watching? Why or why not?

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