The title ‘From Producer JJ Abrams’ seems to crop up more and more on our screens these days. His production company Bad Robot has a stake in numerous recent and current film and TV projects. They started out in television with the spy series Alias. A success over five seasons it propelled the company upwards to a more high profile project with the international phenomenon that was Lost. Recently Bad Robot productions gave us Alcatraz which didn’t exactly set the airwaves alight and ended up being cancelled after only one season. For their latest venture they have teamed up with Eric Kripke, the creator of the highly successful ongoing (in its eight season) series Supernatural. Will this pairing produce this years event television or this years The Event?

The story starts with all the lights going out. Ben is on the phone to his brother Miles trying, and failing, to explain that everything is about to fail. In the middle of the conversation while Ben is downloading information to a mysterious memory stick it all goes dark. At the other end Miles’s phone and car stop working as does all the cars on the road. Looking out Miles can see the lights go out all over and planes falling from the sky. Electricity has stopped working and no one knows why. The story flashes forward fifteen years. Cities are abandoned. People are living in rural, self sustainable communities. A simpler life for anyone who managed to survive the initial hard years. Ben is part of one such village keeping his former life and his secrets to himself. He is living with his new wife and teenage daughter and son. Breaking the peace, the local militia arrive looking for Ben. When his family and friends try to protect him Ben is wounded, apparently fatally. The militia leave with Ben’s son in his place on the search for Miles. The brothers are obviously important. Why we do not know.  To try to warn Miles, Ben’s wife, daughter and best friend set off to Chicago, the last known place he was sighted. Their adventure is just beginning.

The objectives of a pilot show for a new series is two-fold. Primarily it is a calling card to hand to the US TV networks to try to secure a full season order for the show. The second is to raise the profile of the show creating a fan base and getting people talking and writing about the new programme.  Unfortunately one out of two isn’t good enough. I don’t hold out much hope for Revolution. It never really engages  with the audience. The story as it is has been done before in several forms in the recent past most memorably in the 2006 TV series Jericho. It too had a cataclysmic event in a nuclear attack, lack of electricity due to an EMP and the issues and problems facing people in extreme circumstances. They also had a subplot regarding the origin of the cause of the event and how some mysterious  people are able to use technology that is obsolete to most survivors. The story itself doesn’t seem strong enough to stretch over the course of even one full season. Granted I have only watched the pilot episode but if the story is so familiar that you can easily predict what is about to happen then it is not a good indication that the plot will hold your attention for very long. The whole episode is a bit flat. This is a puzzler since it is directed by Jon Favreau. How can you go from two highly successful Iron Man films, full of action and drama, to this? Reasonably easily on this evidence.

The actors have little to work with as their characters are overly familiar and not very well-developed. It’s almost like the writers had a checklist of character types they had to use. Strong willed female lead, check. Cold and heartless militia leader, Oh Yes. Good guy who turns out to be a bad guy but then may really be a good guy, Yup.

To be fair there is a pretty good fight scene where the leads get to take on nine militia men. It is well staged and realistic up to the point where you realize some of the bad guys are using flintlock rifles and in this case only one each. Now the premise of no electricity as far as I know doesn’t extend to revolvers so why are the two worst shots given these guns only to miss and have to reload while the hero gets a chance to kick their asses.  It totally takes you out of the action.

Not a great start to a brand new show. Unfortunately I can see this getting cancelled by the end of the first season. Disappointing.

The trailer is below for anyone interested.

John McArthur
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