When we saw the pilot for NBC's new show Revolution at Comic-Con, we thought it seemed pretty fun. But since then, most people we know seem to have decided to hate this show, either on the basis of the silly premise (almost all technology on Earth stops working) or other stuff (like the wide-eyed pout-acting of star Tracy Spiridakos.)
But we still have some faith that Revolution will turn out to be a neat ride, if you can just grant them the silly premise, and here are a few reasons why. Spoilers ahead...
So first of all, a quick summary of the pilot, which a lot of people probably watched a couple weeks back when it first went up online. In a nutshell, there's some unknown catastrophe in which all the lights go out, and any technology beyond, say, the 18th century is fucked. Somehow, Ben Matheson knows that this is going to happen and he hides some vital data on a USB drive disguised as a fancy locket, just before the power dies.
Fast forward 15 years, and there's a small idyllic community living in the middle of nowhere, with a beautiful farm and ridiculously nice-looking accomodations. The country is now governed by local militias, and one of those comes looking for Ben and his long-absent brother Miles. In the resulting altercation, Ben gets shot, but he gives his magic USB locket to his friend Aaron, a former Google employee and Snarky Nerd [TM]. Afterwards, Ben's son Danny is taken prisoner by the militia soldier Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito).
So Ben's daughter Charlie goes off to search for her ninja uncle Miles (Billy Burke), with Aaron and the medicine woman Maggie in tow. Along the way, they meet a cute but treacherous kid who turns out to be a militia spy. Eventually, they track down Miles but have to fight their way out a huge ambush. And meanwhile, Danny escapes from the militia and meets up with Grace, a nice older lady who turns out to have a working computer hidden away, along with another fancy USB locket — but we only learn that after Danny is recaptured. And meanwhile, Miles' former Army buddy Sebastian Monroe (the Cape!) is the leader of the evil militia.
So in a nutshell, why are we still optimistic about this series? A few reasons, off the top of my head:
1. Eric Kripke. Even if you didn't like the pilot that much, bear in mind that the first season of Kripke's show Supernatural was rough as hell — and that show did eventually become a fantastic piece of television. The fact that Kripke is on board as the show's creator is basically a sign that there is a plan for where this is going — a non-hand-wavy plan. Kripke pulled off something few other people have managed: creating five seasons of a television show that work as a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end. If he gets five years on this show, I am sure he can do it again.
2. Giancarlo Esposito. Especially rewatching the pilot, Esposito's turn as the Militia bounty-hunter really stands out, and he elevates every scene he's in. He's got a very Firefly/Serenity vibe of Wild West courtliness mixed with menace, and it's hard to watch him without imagining him crossing paths with Mal Reynolds.
3. Some of the other supporting cast. Google Boy is continuing to be one of my favorite characters on this show, on a second viewing. He's just so snarktastic, and so determined to point out the stuff that everybody else overlooks. He's sort of the voice of the audience — let's hope he gets developed beyond the "stroppy nerd" stereotype, though. And I also like Maggie the tough medicine lady, with her bottle of poison whiskey stowed away for random airplane rapists.
4. There's a lot of sword-fighting. Sue me. I like sword-fighting. And crossbows. And scenes where Billy Burke kills a dozen guys single-handed. Nothing wrong with watching Billy Burke slash his way through an army of enemy redshirts. It seems likely that sword-fighting will be one of this show's go-to motifs.
5. I'm sort of intrigued by the notion that the bad guy wants to restore electricity and the good guys want to stop him. Because if the Cape gets access to modern weapons and tech, he'll use it to impose his dictatorial rule over the whole country. So it's better to keep everyone in the dark? That's kind of a ruthless calculation for the "heroes" to be making — and let's hope they're confronted with quite how heartless that choice is, at some point.
6. It's more light-hearted than Lost but seems like it might have some of the same unfolding storytelling. As far as I can tell, this show is not setting up to have any "thing of the week" stories — instead, every week will be another step on the journey to getting Danny back, finding out what turned the lights off, and stopping the Cape. And at the same time, it's nice to see a vaguely post-apocalyptic, "cut off from everything we knew" show that's self-consciously upbeat and zippy, rather than maudlin and navel-gazey.
7. There will be tons of flashbacks. I know this because the version of the pilot we saw at Comic Con didn't have Elizabeth Mitchell as Danny and Charlie's mom. She was added at the last minute, and her brief scenes in the pilot were reshot — presumably so they can make more use of her in future episodes. I'm guessing this means more glimpses of the events leading up to the power outage, as well as the immediate aftermath.
All in all, I still kind of like this pilot, although Spiridakos' acting does grate a second time around. But even if you don't like the pilot, there's still plenty of reason to keep hoping this show will become decent or even great — as long as you can get your mind around the basic premise, of course. But what did you think?