NBC is a television network in distress; after several years of massive blowups like the Jay Leno/Conan O'Brian it found itself bought by Comcast who is attempting to rebuild the network; have taken a page from 1995 and added tons of sitcoms like "Whitney", "Guys with Kids" and "The New Normal". Oh and they have also added this show, "Revolution", the show seemingly designed to gather that rookie audience that NBC desires. Now this show has everything for NBC, it's placed after The Voice, it has J.J. Abrams onboard, it has huge promotion that equals much of NBC's budget for the year.
But that's the problem.
Just like Luke Skywalker.
First off, the premise is terrible
; this has been talked about before many times, the inconveniences of what happens (electricty going off, jets falling), the obvious message about people being obsessed with technology, the ignorance of logistics and watching the pilot in full does nothing
to change what has been talked about before. People are supposed to suspend disbelief for this to work but it's hard to suspend disbelief when you've painted yourself in a corner from episode 1. Fortunately... The show does have it's characters which hopefully should prevent me from asking questions. We have Charlie, the red haired girl who's the daughter of the one who plays a major part, we have Rachel who reminds me of Lost's Claire and has a protective side, we have Aaron who is the requisite geek character and we have the star attraction Danny who has deep connections, mystique and expertise. All of these characters have interesting backstories with Charlie's deep connection with her father, the various places she wants to visit; Aaron with him being a Google executive with lost money and it is these backstories that give a certain kind of charms that invites us to these characters and make us care for them throughout the show.
Unfortunately, everybody here acts incredibly weak with a forced
sense of dramaticism, emotion, tensity and even normal line delivery that all of the actors suffer from, Charlie consistently seems like she's trying so hard to inject character in every place that she's seeming like she's drawing from reference and speaking as if she was reading it from the page. Whenever she tries to emote, she overacts with a wobbly voice and an emotional state where no tears bother to come out. Aaron is overly cliched
, annoying and lacking of any redeeming traits whatsoever; it's as if he's specifically designed to appeal to a specific audience as he acts overly weak and scared while speaking in a tone that seems socially awkward. Danny is the ultimate stereotype
acting like a wiseguy who knows how to fight, cracks up jokes and claims to not join but joins in the end. The best character in this isn't even a main character but a minor character who's an African American woman that has actual personality and an interesting backstory; there's a certain charm to her that just infects your mind, the way she let out her words, the way she interacts, it suggests tons of character, character that you can actually feel, character that just begs you to follow her.
Our heroes in Tatooine.
As J.J. Abrams fans know, there is a certain complexion that surrounds his work from "Lost
" to even his 2009 remake of Star Trek. People can watch the entire thing and enjoy it but it takes a trained eye to notice the subtleties... this show does not have any of that complexion, in fact everything seems to be pushed in your face. The entire show has the feeling of a Star Wars without electricity, an evil empire who has taken over the world and one girl being raised in a simple farming environment, unaware of her true purpose; heck it is evident when you first watch the show itself from the first scenes of Charlie to when her father dies to when everybody joins up together, they even had a lunchbox with "Return of the Jedi
" on it, just in case you didn't notice the obvious
clues that could only be more obvious if a sign in Vegas blared it out. The settings that they're in are seemingly designed to fit a certain scene whether it's the first sight of love, the creepy setting or even a highly choreographed fight sequences.
As I watched our characters graced through trees, rock like settings and even dark rooms with stairs and candlelights on them. I can tell that these environments weren't natural to the world themselves, that they only exist to serve the mood of whatever the producers want; to me it suggests that the producers lack the soul
to create an environment that was unique and didn't have obvious overtones (just look at Minority Report) and the fight scenes are overly flashy
and detrimental to the premise as a whole; never in 15 years have I seen guys who were so used to electricity suddenly know how to swordfight and take guys out with ease; these were people who lived normal lives, didn't know how to fight and now they know how to take out a guy with style and grace usually reserved for James Bond? And just look at Danny and his cohorts, he's swinging that sword around quickly, gracefully avoiding his cohorts like a gazelle, putting more focus on his moves than the actual fighting himself... It is this fighting which gives action movies it's cliche name, it is this fighting which was the most criticized of the Star Wars prequels, style over substance, excess over believability.
It's a trend that makes it really hard to take the world seriously even though it's decently executed.
And we can't forget about the mystery itself; we have various militia who has taken over the world, we have this odd orb thing that is praised highly, we have odd symbols, we even have a shady group. Normally the people watching this would find this mysterious, just the sheer sight of these items and mention of the conspiracy that presents itself; it's kind of obvious
what makes these things mysterious but they point it out almost every time. Throughout the episode you have the close up shots which clearly reveal items and gives a subtle hint to the viewer that this is important; it would be good if they referenced it only once but they do it 3-4 times even when the close-up in general is established and it quickly becomes tiring and gimmicky because it makes it clear that the producers have no idea what subtly is, heck the fact that they have to make it aware doesn't say much for the producer's abilities in general. Then there's the whole sheer logic being exchanged drama and vaguness, the main character seemingly stumbling over his words as he tries to explain the situation. We get that it's a mystery, we get that it's suspicious, we're an intelligent audience, we're capable of figuring things out for ourselves...
The militia do prove to be somewhat interesting, it has a connection with the group behind the blackout, one of what will be the main guys are in it and the African American guy is quite arguably the second best character with his Clint Eastwood-like behavior and his humble yet domineering performance yet they do nothing but scream generecy
with threatening standoffs that involve generic phrases and scenes that have a bad guy face to face with a good guy with the prisoner transport scene inbetween. They barely do anything to separate themselves from Star Wars "Galactic Empire
", in fact it seems like the only truly different thing seems to be the inclusion of one of the family members who serves to be one of those recurring characters with a confusing mix of impeccable skills and natural weakness. It seems like the only interesting thing about them is that they exist in this world, all while a family member hopefully finds a way to get back to where he once was while suffering the same flaws as the rest. They fit the world, they have history but should we consider that enough?
Bow down to the galactic empire.
The pilot episode confirmed what I had feared about the show; this is a mess of a concept with a lack of focus, overly flashy presentation, tons of obviousness and a lack of faith in it's audience. The acting is subpar with the backstories being better than the characters themselves, the premise is more confusing than time travel, the story itself feels like a weak rehash of Star Wars and yet... I can expect this being renewed for a second season. I can't blame them, NBC desperately wants a hit show and sci-fi fans/the general public wants something that's at least entertainable and there is some stuff that I find interesting about this show but NBC and the public should be expecting a bit more from themselves. This stuff is detrimental to quality as a whole, it's a polished product sure but polish does not always equal brilliance and this is from J.J. Abrams no less. I am really disappointed but I am willing to see if this little train of hope goes somewhere; they certainly got something planned for the show right?