- Air Date: 9/17/2012
All discussions about REVOLUTION begin with its pedigree. It is the newest in a long line of Bad Robot productions, J.J. Abrams’ stronghold and brain trust. The man who brought FELICITY, ALIAS, LOST, FRINGE, and PERSON OF INTEREST to TV (and directed STAR TREK, MI3, and SUPER 8) is hoping to bring another hit, rather than another dud (ALCATRAZ, UNDERCOVERS). The creator and executive producer is Eric Kripke, who cut his teeth on SUPERNATURAL. The pair nabbed Jon Favreau to direct the pilot, a man who’s certainly capable of spectacle, having directed IRON MAN, IRON MAN 2, and COWBOYS & ALIENS. NBC clearly has high hopes for the serialized, heavy mythological “event” series, as networks continue to look for the next LOST. We’ve suffered through THE EVENT, FLASH FORWARD, INVASION, TERRA NOVA, and countless others. REVOLUTION may have the best shot at recreating that success in an ongoing series.
The pilot doesn’t waste any time, as we’re quickly introduced to Ben and Rachel Matheson, and their two young kids. Ben (THE GOOD WIFE’s Tim Guinee, who’s a little like Michael J. Fox) arrives home, harried and panicked. “It’s happening,” he tells his wife (who’s played by LOST alum Elizabeth Mitchell, a late substitute for Andrea Roth), carrying a bundle of survival rations. He races against the clock to download files onto a USB drive, while calling his brother Miles (TWILIGHT’s Billy Burke). Miles is on the highway with his friend, who we are purposefully not introduced to. He’s played by THE CAPE’s David Lyons. Ben warns him that it’s about to happen, then the phone dies, their car dies (along with every other car on the freeway), the power in Ben and Rachel’s home dies, planes fall listlessly toward the ground, and BOOM – a global blackout has occurred.
While it’s a different set up — the world’s power, energy and technology has been completely subverted, rather than everyone has blacked out for a certain period of time — I can’t help but be reminded of FLASH FORWARD every time someone mentions the blackout and who caused it. Thankfully, we zoom to 15 years in the future, with Ben and his kids, Charlie and Danny (Graham Rogers, looking dope-y), now all grown up, in a quaint little village (the show is like FLASH FORWAR, or FALLING SKIES without aliens…for now). Ben’s wife and the children’s mother is nowhere to be seen (which sucks, because I love Elizabeth Mitchell). Instead, we meet a different blonde woman named Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), and it’s pretty clear that their mother has been gone a long time, and that Maggie is Ben’s current beau.
Charlie Matheson is played by BEING HUMAN’s Tracy Spiridakos. Everyone and their cat has been comparing her character to Katniss Everdeen of HUNGER GAMES, just because she’s beautiful and is good with a bow. It’s unfair, and I’ll just take solace in having another strong woman on TV, played ably by the rising star Spiridakos. Other than Miles, it’s clear that Charlie is our guiding force in the series, and I think it’s a smart choice by NBC and Kripke. I’ll admit, I was sold the second I realized she had a guy’s name, a weakness of mine grown out of DAWSON’S CREEK.
We’re also introduced to Aaron (Zak Orth), the goofy, rotund member of the ensemble clearly there for comic relief. I’ll probably love him. Aaron and Ben share a meaningless conversation that shows how simple and easygoing their life is now, and are rudely interrupted by some cavalry coming down the road and their peaceful hamlet, led by Tom Neville (the fantastic BREAKING BAD star Giancarlo Esposito). He wants to talk to Ben Matheson, and isn’t very nice about it. Clearly this has something to do with the information he knows, and the USB drive he owns, that he gives to Aaron just before the men arrive.
An old fashioned standoff occurs, ending tragically and propelling Charlie, Maggie, and Aaron en route to Chicago to track down her uncle Miles to help rescue Danny from the clutches of Neville and the forces of Monroe (who is a kind of overlord using the blackout to his benefit). The only thing that Charlie and company know about Miles is that he’s good at killing. That’ll be helpful. By the end of the pilot, we get proof in a swashbuckling Han Solo-esque lead (as is Kripke’s prerogative), and the saga begins, with a mysterious archer named Nate (JD Pardo) joining their company.
We get a few clues and hints as to what is going on, and there are a couple fun twists in the pilot, with the patented Abrams cliffhanger to tide us until the next episode. While right now it feels like a mish mash of all the LOST copycats, the ensemble has promise and I can’t deny the talent involved behind the camera. But, as with any of these types of shows, it will depend on the development of the mythos and how our questions are answered as to whether or not we are genuinely intrigued or just ticked off. We don’t know yet how it’ll turn out, but I’m hoping REVOLUTION gets a big enough audience so we get a legitimate chance to find out.