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!
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!
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.)
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?
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."
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.