REVOLUTION review: Knowledge is power in NBC’s new drama

Posted on September 17, 2012 by

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Revolution airs Monday nights on NBC.

What if one day everything just turned off?
What would happen if all of the world’s power suddenly stopped working? If all electrical and battery power simply disappeared, and all of our smartphones, automobiles, trucks, airplanes and computers were suddenly completely useless?

That’s the premise behind NBC’s new Monday night drama Revolution, which illustrates what happens after the fateful night all of the world’s power inexplicably blinks off, perhaps never to return.

Suddenly stripped of the ability to Google the location of the nearest Shawarma restaurant, it seems that the planet’s populace panicked, resulting in 15 years of widespread disease and death, the fall of official governments, and the rise of various warlords and militias. Cities emptied and suburbs turned into pre-Industrial age agrarian communes, complete with sheep-filled cul de sacs.

But never fear, it’s a pretty good bet that in this brave new world created by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and executive producer J.J. Abrams (Lost) there are plenty of attractive people all anxious to solve the big mystery and get the lights turned back on.

– SPOILERS FOLLOW –

Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) stores her precious keepsakes in a Return of the Jedi lunchbox. What’s not to love? Credit: NBC

15 years after the big power shutdown, we meet crossbow-toting tomboy Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) and her younger asthmatic brother Danny (Graham Rogers) living in one of the former subdivisions turned farming communities. Their dad Ben (the ever-reliable Tim Guinee) is guarding super-secret knowledge about the mysterious blackout in his amulet-shaped USB drive.

Unfortunately for the Matheson family, nasty Monroe Republic Militia Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and his soldiers show up in town looking for Ben and his secret knowledge. Things quickly go from bad to worse, and somehow Ben ends up dead, while son Danny is dragged away.

Monroe Republic Militia Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and his soldiers show up in town looking for Ben (Tim Guinee) in Revolution. Credit: NBC

“One really long walk”
With his dying breath, Ben sends Charlie off to locate her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke), who’s now living in what’s left of Chicago. It is hoped that Miles will help rescue Danny. He may also be able to reveal why the power went off 15 years ago, more importantly, how to get it restarted.

Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) sets off on a road trip with her dad’s doctor girlfriend Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) and his buddy Aaron (Zak Orth) in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Charlie sets off on a road trip with her dad’s doctor girlfriend Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) and his buddy Aaron (Zak Orth), meeting hunky potential love interest and possible bad boy Nate (J.D. Pardo) along the way.

Soon after Uncle Miles is found, the evil Militia shows up again. After some requisite male posturing there’s a fancy swordplay fight. Miles shows off his super-duper battle skills and all of our heroes get a few licks in before Charlie and the gang start off on their “let’s rescue Danny” mission.

Does this amulet hold the key to everything? Credit: NBC

Right before the episode ends we get a glimpse of Miles’ past connection to the powerful warlord leader Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons). One final tease is the appearance of another mystery amulet, capable of either generating a small working field of electricity or (more probably) countering whatever is blocking all of the planet’s electrical impulses, thus allowing a secret computer network to function.

One quibble… should not the Steampunks have inherited the earth?
Since mankind harnessed electricity just a little over 200 years ago, and seemingly managed pretty well before then with other power sources, it is a bit hard to understand why steam-powered tech should not have become the go-to power source in the electricity-free environment of Revolution.

It is possible that there are reasons we don’t yet know as to why steam and other sources of power aren’t being used. Or perhaps they are and we just haven’t seen it. One simply hopes that Revolution’s reasoning isn’t similar to the “because the writers said so” form of illogic that helped to hasten Terra Nova’s downfall last year.

“We’re all going to end up with our heads on a stick, but you’re welcome.”

Revolution stars Tracy Spiridakos as “Charlie” and Billy Burke as “Miles.” Credit: NBC

Expertly directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), this first episode of Revolution does a handsome job introducing the show’s premise and main characters with as little excess fuss and fluff as possible. Action sequences are tight and fun, and there’s a nice mix of drama and humor in Kripe’s’s script.

Disappointingly, the lovely Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie doesn’t get to do much in this episode beyond look pretty and get rescued several times by the boys, but it’s assumed that her coming-of-age journey will toughen her up.

On the other hand, Billy Burke positively shines as reluctant hero and swashbuckling swordsman Uncle Miles. Look to him and his portrayal of quiet strength as the bedrock of this new series.

Revolution airs Monday nights on NBC.

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Posted in: Opinion, Recaps, Reviews, TV