Friendly Rating: Elementary and older
Safety Rating: Shooting, swords, crossbows and stiffs all over
Quality Rating: It’s got a lot of problems, but, man, I like watching it
New series premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC
I’ve got to give Revolution a lot of credit because it is unlike just about everything else on TV, except maybe Falling Skies – but that’s alien invasion. Revolution, about what happens when all the electricity on the planet gets turned off, is straight-up post apocalyptic nightmare. It’s got some consistency problems and a rather dark outlook, but it’s also got some great lines and interesting characters.
The story centers around Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), whose father Ben (Tim Guinee) knew what was up when the lights went out 15 years before. Since then, governments have collapsed, militias have arisen, and all sorts of badness has happened, particularly in the small suburb of Chicago where Charlie and her family have landed.
Things really get started when Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) comes riding in with his militia to take Ben with him to see General Monroe. Charlie’s brother Danny (Graham Rogers) gets in the way, his dad gets killed and the militia kidnaps Danny instead. In his dying gasps, Ben tells Charlie to find his brother Miles (Billy Burke) so that they can rescue Danny. Charlie is joined by her step-mother Grace (Maria Howell) and former geek Aaron (Zak Orth).
There are guns – mostly in the hands of the bad guys. In fact, having a gun is considered a hanging offense. There’s lots of sword play. There’s lots of crossbows. In short, there’s lots of fighting, because as is usually painted in these kinds of post-apocalyptic scenarios, the world is a pretty sad and nasty place.
Which I think is what underlies most of the problems the show has – it has no real connection to history, and as such, the assumption is collapse and tyranny run rampant, rather than cooperation and adaptation. But adapting to a world without electricity is not that hard – I know. I spent almost three full days with no electricity at my house after an extended wind storm knocked out power across our region.
It hasn’t been that long since the early- to mid-19 Century, when people first started putting electricity to use. And most of us know folks who do historical re-enactments, such as Civil War, Renaissance and even Dickens fairs. So there are plenty of people out there who know how to manage without electricity, even if they prefer not to. Plus, it’s supposedly the present time when the power goes off, which means there are still paper books readily available for people to find these things out.
Another thing the show’s costumers, in particular, seem to have forgotten is that when you don’t have cheap, mass production, clothes get expensive and rare. Yet everyone is dressed in nice new knit tops and manufactured jeans and squeaky new leather coats without obvious mends or wear. After 15 years without factories, we should be seeing a lot more homespun and patches.
There are other little glitches like this that make me question the world the producers have built. And yet, the show is still pretty compelling and all that swashbuckling is mighty cool. Which can be a problem if you’ve got younger viewers already overdosing on violent programming.
Revolution has more going for it than not, and one does hope that the producers do get their world set up more effectively. But we’ll see.