Revolution? It's on... er... off...

Two episodes in, and I have a whole side of beef.

I would have thought that the survivors would have broken down 
this amusement park for the steel to be used in other things... like fences
and structures and spears and stuffs.

Here is the premise of the show. All the power mysteriously goes off. Every thing. Nothing works that requires power. Nor do things that provide it. No batteries, spark plugs or lights. Cool premise.

What happens next?

That is what this show is supposedly about.

In the pilot we get a modern day family living their lives. Then dad comes home in a hurried rush, babbling about how "It's" about to happen. He quickly downloads some data on a mini flash drive and pops it into a medallion, calls his brother the green beret ninja to warn him, then it's on... er... off...

Power goes out. Cars stop. Fast forward 15 years. Queue the ridiculous over the top Star Wars: Episode 3 sword fight scenes and and iconic land marks overgrown with vines. And bad dialogue peppered with bouts of illogical decisions and blammo, we have pseudo Sci-Fi, network TV schlock. Oh how I miss Stargate SG1.

Not that there is any thing wrong with that Sci-Fi Schlock mind you.

I mean, I have enjoyed the first two episodes, and it is not like there is much else on TV to watch while I count the seconds until The Walking Dead comes back on.  But that doesn't mean I can't pick it apart!

So without getting too much into the particular story line allow me to rant a bit.

First of all, and this is always the first thing to pop into my head when I am introduced to a new "apocalypse" show/movie/book, what about the nuclear power plants.  Last year in Japan a flood knocked out the fail safe effects for one for a short time and god only knows what could have happened. In the 80s Chernobyl melted down and spewed radiation for weeks before they were able to bury it in a mountain of concrete. Again the fail safes failed. A perfect storm of errors and misjudgements. The effect was to destroy a huge area of the Ukraine, rendering it inhabitable for hundreds or thousands of years, and polluting the water table of most of the hemisphere, effecting generations of kids in ways we still don't even know.

That all happened, and those places still had power. Hell, Chernobyl was even still generating power for years after the meltdown! Now, imagine if that place melted down, and in a Revolution type world, there was no way to dump tons of concrete on top of it, sealing the radiation up and saving the world?..

No choppers to fly over head and dump the cement... no fire trucks to combat the flames... well, it would have burned, and burned, and blown radiation into the atmosphere indefinitely. We are talking true end of the world shit. The actual disaster spewed amounts of radiation into the air that were measurable here in the US.  Hell, the mini meltdown in Japan did too.  Imagine if one of these things were allowed to go unchecked? For years? I don't know because I am no scientist, but I believe that if Chernobyl had not been capped off in it's cement sarcophagus, thanks to the brave actions of the men in the Soviet Army (Who are probably all now dead) the world today would be a very different place. At the very least, hundreds of thousands of men would have died running in a bucket of concrete at a time and dumping it on the reactor,  then dropping dead from the lethal dose of radiation they received.

That is just the initial issue. Then you have the fall out. For miles and miles around Chernobyl, even now, you can sort of travel on the roads safely, but walk ten feet into the fields, and the radiation levels peak at dangerous numbers. The foliage holds in the radiation while the tarmac sort of repels it.  We understand this and in a Revolution world would know, even without Geiger Counters, to stay away from the woods around a meltdown plant.  But the deer wont!  And we would eat the deer. (we have no way to know if it is irradiated)

This brings me to the point.  In a world where the power suddenly stopped working, what about all of those nuclear plants that were in the process of creating power. Did the black out stop Fission? (Or is it fusion) The fail safe mechanisms that would retract the rods and stop the process wont work!  The rods would burn unchecked, and the water would evaporate, exposing the rods to the air with no way to cool, and MELTDOWN. Nuclear plants would start going off like a pack of Orvile Redenbacher Microwave Popcorn. Slow at first, then furiously for a while, then none at all, eventually. And left unchecked for long enough, the popcorn, and world, will all be black. (Or glowing green.)

That is about as good an analogy as I can make for my vision of an apocalyptic future. Burned popcorn. It could happen in The Walking Dead, and I don't see how it could be any different in Revolution. At least in TWD, you can imagine that the Government would have had time to lock down all the plants before they meltdown. So the chance for catastrophe is minimal. But in Revolution, it just happened, all at once. Some people knew about it, like Charlies dad, and I got the impression that the Government did, since the marine base seemed not to be surprised, and were prepped with flares and stuff.  However, with all the beuracracy in our ridiculous bloated government, I would have to think that more than one plant would have slipped through because of the hush hush nature of this event, even if the Government knew the blackout was coming, and managed to shut them all down in time.

But there is something that leads me to believe that the Government did not know about the shutdown, at least not entirely.  Her dad worked at a college, and rushed home to get the data, and protect it in the medallion from whatever force shut down the rest of the world.  Was he part of a conspiracy? The existence of the black woman with her own working computer and medallion, along with the guy who showed up last night to take her would suggest that they were working separately from the Government. This is also confirmed by the fact that the General had Charlies mom. (Which by the way I saw coming. You don't take a fairly well known actress in recent TV and pay her to do a pilot.) I knew she was going to at the very least be in every episode via flashback, but figured she was still alive and kicking some how.

Back to the blackout.  So yah, I think the blackout is some sort of terrorist attack for lack of a better word. Some people decided to hit the reset button. Charlies dad was one of them. I think the government has little to do with it, other than to know it was coming. The lack of meltdown infers that all of the nuclear power plants and missile silos were shut down, so the Government must have at least had some notice.  But the rest is up in the air!

Other beef?

The acting and writing. (Of course)

First, the writers unashamedly swiped three characters straight from The Hunger Games. Peter, Katniss and her other guy.. I can't remember his name. (The boy band soldier with the trendy haircut and Legolas like archery speed, Nate.) This was obvious, but acceptable. Why not cash in!

Hello. My name is Peter. 
I can throw big rocks.

Hanging Tough! The Backstreet
Boys are one of the most successful
groups of all time. I guess with all the old people
Revolution needed some one with a chizled jaw in an ultra
tight V neck. Luckily for me Abercrombie is still
in business fifteen years after the apocalypse.

But I'm too famous to die in the first episode.. Oh 
wait... SURPRISE! Bet you didn't see that twist coming.

I may have suffered one of the coolest TV deaths
in the history of well, TV, but I return, to play
the same character in the future, only,
I am no longer selling Meth. But am just as cool.

In 15 years I went from some one even the sentries at my own base
did not recognize, to a General, and did not age a second!

But then comes the usual absence of logical thought in the face of creating forced TV drama. Example. Our heros, enroute to Chicago, stop into O'hare airport. They inexplicably come across an intact plane that seems to even have neatly stacked cargo outside. Mr. Google suggests that they check the cockpit for first aid supplies. (He used to own a plane) As if after 15 years there would still be some? No one else thought about that?   Then directly after comes the scene with the bandits. (The drama) and the rescue (The resolution/hero/antihero) If I am two hot chicks and a nerd, I would think a bit of caution would be in order when I am traveling a post apocalyptic world. Taking cover and hiding when we camp is obvious. But in the plane? Logic would dictate that the plane was in use, after all, how could those cargo crates still be so neatly placed after fifteen years of Chicago winters? Some of them looked brand new! They couldn't find some nice copse of trees some place instead? Or an old abandoned building? If their route to Chicago took them through O'hare, they also would have gone through any number of old neighborhoods and towns. Fifteen years is a long time, but not THAT long...

Then come's Charlies stupid decisions. Sure she is a kid, (early 20s) I get it. But this is not 2012. This is a world where fifteen years of hard living should have taught this girl some sense. When her ninja uncle tells her to stay with Google and British plot device character, she should damn well listen. Especially since he gave them a place to be and a time. Nope. Instead she is going to chase after him, as if she is going to be helpful. (And of course she ends up being just that. Damn TV drama.)

I am she, who looks like Katniss, but speaks like Joey from Dawson's Creek

Aghast I have begun a series of rash mistakes in which
I get into trouble, but escape in the nick of time, usually
saving some one more skilled than I in the process.

What else? I liked Chicago. I loved how they created a thriving marketplace, with fishermen and such, and I love how they resisted the temptation to "Mad Max" it out.

Is Illinois the capital of the Crossbow? I mean, really... Almost every resident of these towns seems to have a compound crossbow made with gears and obviously machined parts. Have YOU ever even seen a crossbow before? Where did all these crossbows come from? Was there a crossbow plant in this area of the country?

I know it is fifteen years after the apocalypse,
but I managed to secure this snazzy 2012 state of the 
art Reverse Draw Crossbow, by Barnett Crossbows.

Notice the big handle on the front of this one. 
I think Charly would have a hard time loading the bow 
she has in her lap above without the draw handle.
But don't sweat the details prop designers.

Footwear? I don't know about you, but when I buy a pair of shoes nowadays, I am lucky to get two years of wear out of them. The blackout meant New Balance was out of business. This means that any boots on the feet of these people are either hand made by the multitude of Cobblers who were working pre-blackout and managed to create a business for themselves, (sarcasm), were scavenged, or have been on their feet for fifteen years. I can look past this though, as it seems there must have been a mass, and I mean MASS dieout as people died and warred. That would probably have left millions of pairs of shoes unworn, creating a huge surplus of footwear that could be used as currency. This goes for every thing, from AC-DC tee shirts to baseball caps. I suppose fifteen years is not too far into the future that there would not still be available goods to scavenge.

Grace's computer.  What the hell? It looks like she is using some cobbled together 80s tech that she found in an old IBM dumpster after they closed some long forgotten offices.  Yes, I know this is 15 years after the apocalypse, but she is part of "The Movement".  She had to know that she would be using this machine. Why the broken down crap?  For a couple hundred bucks I can get a pretty sweet computer now from NewEgg, and for another couple hundred I can get a steel box to seal it up in, then bury it 10 feet in the ground.  Then when needed post apocalypse, there you go! Top of the line, fast and well... new! The thing she is using in her attic when she presses the power button on her dampening field repeller is silly. What is with the old style 1985 green screen monitor with no casing? And the exposed "innards" to the computer with archaic looking fans and did I see 40s tech radar tubes? Did the writers feel that they needed to convince us that the computer needed to be ramshackle to work? Maybe they were suggesting that modern tech would not work with the medallion device... who knows. How about the dial up modem sound? What is the computer dialing into? I am waiting for an AOL product placement ad. Perhaps if she had a 2012 Dell she could have got more of a message out than "Randall is here."

The source of Grace's computer?

Ok. Lets cut to it. This is getting long and I need to post other stuff.

I like the show. The premise is interesting. I can grasp that there is possibly some sort of dampening field that is disabling the laws of physics and nature and making any electrical process impossible.  I accept that even the good ole potato powered alarm clocks won't work, if that is the world that Revolution has created. Though I wonder how this shut down of all power did not affect the electrical synapses and reactions going on in our own bodies...

 I look forward to seeing how they reveal this happened.  It will make for entertaining TV.  But I think this show is going to quickly go the way of Terra Nova. It is too Hollywood. Too big budget. They need to create real drama and believable characters instead of feeding us an hour of Michael Bay every week.

Eventually the special effects are going to be a liability and the sets are going to be too costly to maintain the show. The Ninja fight scene where one man kills a squad of trained swordsmen was too much. Too much of that will kill the show. I fear that they are going to write themselves into too many holes, and become too sappy with silly lines and forced situations. Especially in a post apocalyptic world. The RV any one? As if no one else would have looted that thing?  There is NO WAY that cabinet that broke open dousing Charlies brother with dusty powder thus provoking an asthma attack and setting the stage for future plot device would not have already been opened. Whether by nature weakening a cheap cabinet, or a looter opening it and not taking the time to close it.

I don't remember the line, but the British Chick spit out a barfy one when regarding her Iphone and lamenting kids she has not scene in fifteen years. Umm, a decade and a half are time enough to move on honey. I think that any rational person would have done so. Her sole motivation now is to get the power back on so she can go back to Britian and see her kids... Babe, they ain't kids no more... and how come she hasn't remarried and had more in all that time? She spent fifteen years sobbing and staring at a blank, useless piece of Apple tech because "it contained the only images she had of her kids and she could not remember what they looked like?" Ugh. Fifteen years with little more to do than work and screw, with no birth control pills and limited condoms... I would imagine this world would be baby land! At the very least I think this particular plot device is pushing it a bit much. Sure I can imagine her having that discussion two or three years after the blackout... but fifteen? It's a long time and she would have given up on pre apocalypse stuff, and gotten going with her new life.

Then there are some of the doozies that Charly spit out.  No need to break open that keg. You get the point.

Get it under control writers!  You have a decent thing going here. It is ok to create a formula for yourself. Put Charly in and out of trouble every episode. Suck us in with snap shots of familiar land marks in ruin. Preach about our over the top reliance on Technology. Foster the ironic relationship between Charly and Nate and the duality of his honorable nature and evil loyalties. Allow us to believe that an over weight nerd would still be over weight fifteen years after his supply of Zingers has run out. Reveal mysterious snippets of the cause of the black out at the end of every episode in an attempt to suck us in for the following week. Throw unexpected (sorta) twists at us every time we think we have a grasp of the show. But hear me now. If a polar bear, smoke monster or some person with a secret room and an old dilapidated 80s tech computer with cryptic messages shows up, I'm out...

Oh damn. Right.



Hulksmash said...

We're pretty much in the same boat but for different reasons. I'll explain :)

Personally, I'm willing to forgive the nuclear meltdown thing. It's science fiction, a simple nod at some point to how people able to shut down electical movement could probably hack computers and shut down nuclear plants.

What I'm not willing to forgive? The absurdity of "making" it thru the loss of electricity within a few days walk of downtown Chicago. Really? No power in the 4th largest metro area in the country and they managed to fort up less than 80 miles from downtown?

If you haven't read it I'd suggest Dies The Fire by S.M. Stirling. Anyone who's read this would understand why I'm at least a little annoyed at the show.

That said, I'll watch it since there isn't much decent tv out there but I expect it to last a single season without modification, if that.

Jawaballs said...

So you are saying that there is no way that little hamlet would have survived so close to the absolute anarchy that would have devolved near Chicago? Elaborate! I will check out Dies The Fire. Whats it about?

Jawaballs said...

And yah, I am willing to accept the Nuclear thing. Sure if they had the power to disable all electrical function, they could have hacked and shut down the Nuke plants. But it is something that needs to be dealt with.

James Notmyrealname said...

Anything capable of arresting electrical devices like batteries or stop an alternator from creating power most likely would destabalize our planets electrical field enough to knock out our ozone layer killing everything on earth instantly.

Runitsgoggalor said...

On the nuclear reactor I work on if the power goes out then the absorbtion rods drop in. This stops any cascade reactions and renders the plant safe. Don't know how they all work everywhere else but a loss of power is not fatal to all nuclear plants. Although I am looking forward to this TV progeamme coming to the UK.

Ordo Bob said...

I had a giant response typed up...took me hours...but blogger won't let me post it: apparently my junk is too big.

This happens to me all the time.

So, the short version: I operated naval nuclear propulsion plants for 10 years. I have a pretty good working knowledge of how a PWR works, and a basic understanding of other types.

Skipping around a bit, you do not need to shut down a nuclear weapon. Quite the opposite, you need electricity to set it off (most use conventional explosives to compress fissionables to generate neutrons to fire fusion...that needs detonators and precise firing sequence). I don't understand what your concern about weapon silos are. They're just big (VERY big) paper-weights now.

Nuclear plants similarly do not need power to shut down. The "rods" that move inside are made of neutronium, a substance that absorbs neutrons that are required to sustain the fission reaction. When the rods go out of the core, more neutrons stay in, fissions increase, power increases. When the rods go in, more neutrons are absorbed, fissions decrease, power decreases.

If all electricity stopped working, all reactors would shutdown automatically.

There is still a problem of decay heat removal, but in MOST reactor designs this can be handled without electrical power, at least to the point of preventing release of fission products outside the primary containment.

Even those that do will be small localized radioactive hot-spots inside buildings that are inside buildings.

Moreover, the release of fission products and radioactive contamination from the plant that would most closely resemble this type of event (Kyoto) has been really minimal. Just because there's a detectable increase in radiation above background does not mean it is anywhere near enough to have any adverse physiological effect.

My big problem with the show...what about the electricty in living know, like the stuff that makes our neurological systems work?

How can terrorists stop one of the primary forces of nature: charged particle interactions.

The show is bullshit. No suspension of disbelief for me!

Hulksmash said...

Dies the Fire follows a couple of individuals/groups after an "event".

The "event" is basically all energy function above a certain level stops (energy seems to bleed off but this is only briefly discussed later). Basically guns don't shoot, electricity doesn't work, even steam generation and we're pretty much back to wind, water, and muscle.

The first three books in the series are basically about the time directly after everything stops and the growth of various societies. It has a lot of interesting things going for it and addresses most of your issues with show :)

After the first 3 books it takes on a slightly more post-apoc fantasy feel as it opens up with the kids of the original series who have grown up in a world without anything and follows them on a trip from west coast oregon to nantucket off the east coast.

It's an excellent series in my opion but the first 3 books are amazing.

breng77 said...

I agree, I mostly like the show, but they missed on a lot of small stuff, my first thought was why do all these people look like they walked out of an Abercrombie add, when they ahve been hand making clothes for 15 years. That thought was quickly followed up by the thought that the amish would be thriving in this situation.

Hulksmash said...

Regarding the hamlet so close to Chicago let's really break this down:

Chicago has a total population right now of approximately 2.7 million. The estimate of the metro area is over 5 million. How much food and water do 5 million people eat and drink? 5 Million people without running water, food rotting within days, no food trucks bringing in food and who have never had to hunt or prepare food from scratch over a fire they made themselves.

Guess which food is the easiest to catch once stuff in the markets starts to run out? We are. Let's be generous and assume the electricity ran out at the optimum time. Enough time for people in farming counties to realize what's happened, get enough people together, and get a small percentage of the harvest in (no way they would manage more than 50% and that is way stretching). They have to keep enough seed so there will be food next year and now there is no way to transport food to major centers of people.

Do you know what's within 80 miles of downtown chicago? Suburbs....Guess how far most people would manage to walk in a day? Not far enough. The die out would be massive, the diseases would be insane, the total lack of available food and clean water would be unimaginable. With few exceptions cities would become giant graves. The ones that live would be the ones who got out early, fast and far.

A suburb wouldn't do it. And this is the simplified version.

Hermit said...

"Dies the Fire" is the story they seemed to have ripped off to make "Revolution". One day for no reason all electric stuff just stops working and the world goes to hell in a basket pretty quick. In "DtF" though it goes farther, steam power and even gunpowder doesnt work. What the people in "DtF" though do to to live through it is alot diffrent. S M Sterling is on book 8 of the series now, hopefully 9 will be out soon (cross fingers and toes). Its a good read. I would recomend it.

Jawaballs said...

Thanks for clearing up some of the questions on the nuclear reactors guys. Silos were a minor issue. Not too concerned with them. My basic knowledge of how a nuclear power plant works is that the rods boil water to create steam that turns turbines that generate power.

At the very least my understanding is that the rods have to be cooled while they do their job or things go boom. Meltdown. That is where I get the concern. If this power stopping event were to occur while the rods were engaged in doing their thing, wouldn't their thing go on and on, escalating until explosion? Unless of course the failsafes that disengage the process work without power.

And hulk you are spot on. I am thinking Donner Party meets The Road. Now, the narrator at the beginning did say that if you did not leave the city, you died. I think we can assume that this level of destruction happened. The people that we see now are the remnants of the people who got out.

I would imagine the first five years of The Revolution would have been truly devastating while the populations shrunk to managable sizes that could be supported by themselves.

I picture piles of burning bodies and Chicago would be a tomb.

BUT it is not unthinkable that a group of survivors could recover.

Some grizly numbers:

Lets say there are ten thousand able bodied survivors. They are put into bands of 10, and tasked with clearing out 50 bodies per day, per band. In a month, that is one million bodies cleared out of buildings and hauled off to a truly massive burning pit. In three months, chicago could be taken off the "Tomb" list.

Chicago in this show now is probably no more than a trade market and fishing village.

Living just outside of New York, I shudder to think of the carnage that would happen here within days of this event. This is why I keep a survival pack ready to go. :) Rifle in hand I would load my son into his little red wagon, sling my pack, and head north on the quick.

Hulksmash said...


It is out :) Finished it last week.


I think you're taking way to much for granted. Where are you going to find 10,000 people after the die off to clear out a city like that? Where are you going to find the food for them? We're talking high calorie diets if you don't want them to die and compound the problem. How are you going to handle the disease that will happen handling dead bodies all day and without modern plumbing? Why reclaim a city where food transport is going to be nearly impossible?

Every hand on the planet that's still alive is going to be focussed on food. And that's going to take years to learn those skills and start to create a surplus.

How many people know how to live through an upper midwest winter without power?

Sidenote, the fact that they have an entire cul-de-sac of suburban homes that are in pretty perfect condition after 15 years of upper midwest weather. I call bullshit!

Hulksmash said...

Oh, and the die off would happen much faster than a few years. I'd say after the first winter you'd be looking at a 95%+ die off in 1st world countries.

Jawaballs said...

Oh I agree Hulk, I would imagine whatever population remained would move south and learn farming. I was just pointing out that it was not entirely unthinkable for an army of workers to clear out a sizable city. Say, a warlord wanted to claim the Chicago waterfront, and clear a zone from the the outskirts of the city to there. It would be possible. There are probably WAY better choices I know, but I am just trying to visualize how and why there would be inhabitants of Chicago 15 years after the blackout.

Why would they fish there, when there are no doubt countless small towns with workable marinas dotting the shore.

And I think the number would definitely be around 95%. Mostly due to just people killing each other though. Every time there is a fight at my school I catch glimpses of what it would be like in a chaotic post apocalypse. Order devolves and base human nature takes hold. We might as well cancel school for the day as there is pretty much no learning going on. I would definitely not want to be in that city after this blackout.

And agreed on the houses. I didn't bother going there were many deeper bones to pick.

I have to thank NBC though, it gave us something to discuss here that was not allies and fortifications! (Though Chaos reared it's ugly head)

Ordo Bob said...

I too have a survival pack and weapons ready to go, not so much for something fantastical like this, but a hurricane, earthquake (haiti scared me), or....yeah, despite my rhetoric...something bad at Indian Point (my worry is more terrorist related than 'accident').

I think The Road has been the most accurate portrayal of post-apocolyptic life. We're food, not much else.

As for nuclear plants, the Control Rods actually stop fission, they're pulled out of the reactor to increase power, and held up by electrical 'latches'. When power goes away, the rods fall in, absorbing neutrons, and stopping fission. After that, it's just decay heat (which is manageable, but still potential meltdown material...but containment should remain intact).

Remember, nuclear plants do NOT result in nuclear explosion. There's no where near the density of fissionables to achieve that (though Chernobyl came damned close!)...thank goodness.

Jawaballs said...

Ordo Bob you are near Indian Point? Heh we should plan and coordinate our escape routes! Fritz is in Westchester too! He has it in his head that he is going to defend his house just outside of Yonkers, I think he is crazy! I will actually be heading north through New Canaan and Ridgefield towards upstate NY where I have lots of family and friends, farmers and hunters type. It is pretty much a safe rural hike most of the way up past Albany on the eastern side of the waterways in Vermont, crossing over into NY around Ticonderoga. We even have a fortified island campsite! :)

Jawaballs said...

Oh and yah, I know Chernobyl was not a nuclear explosion, just a huge bang that resulted in a lot of nuclear waste being exposed to the atmosphere. I read a lot about it, info is surprisingly hard to find! I also saw a bunch of videos by a girl who sneaks into the area on her motorcycle. Interesting stuff. But I do know that had they not the ability and sacrifice to cap that sucker off with concrete, the would would be in much worse shape today.

Jawaballs said...

Hey Bob any interest in playing paintball this weekend? A big game is going on at Yankee Paintball and Im going.

Will Wright said...

Yonkers is he crazy way too close to the city,I'm on the Island that too would fill up from city refuges fast.
You need a boat and head north to Conn.
If you do not have your own boat,you better have a gun and take a boat.

But the ultimate apocalypse escape device that is possible for anyone to operate is a hot air balloon

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