ADVANCE REVIEW: ‘Revolution’ (NBC – Monday, 10:00 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: OK, kids, this is how it works:  With all of the new shows of the season, we shared our first impressions of every new show of the season based on the show description and the trailer released by the network in our network previews.  With our fall reviews, however, we include both initial impressions and what we think after actually seeing said show.  The main reason why we do this is to A.) show how mystical our powers of perception are and B.) to show that we aren’t total pricks and can admit IF we’re wrong.

Also, where possible you’re going to see not only my review but either RedEye Rogue or Victor De Leon’s review, as well, so you can make up your own mind and not just go on the opinion of one idiot… we’ll give you two idiots to choose from… maybe more.

Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why?  Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it?  On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman’s life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously – and unbeknownst to her – had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future.  From director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2”) and the fertile imaginations of J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Person of Interest”) and Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”), comes a surprising “what if” action-adventure series, where an unlikely hero will lead the world out of the dark. Literally. The series stars Billy Burke (“The Twilight Saga”), Tracy Spiridakos (“Being Human”), Anna Lise Phillips (“Terra Nova”), Zak Orth (“Romeo + Juliet“), Graham Rogers (“Memphis Beat”), J.D. Pardo (“A Cinderella Story”),  Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”), David Lyons (“The Cape”), Maria Howell (“The Blind Side”), Tim Guinee (“Iron Man”) and Andrea Roth (“Rescue Me”).  Kripke, Abrams, Favreau and Bryan Burk (“Lost,” “Star Trek”) serve as executive producers.  “Revolution” is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Bad Robot Productions, Kripke Enterprises and Warner Bros. Television.  The pilot was directed by Favreau. – NBC

Score:     90 out of 100

Initial Impressions (May 20, 2012):  Fact: we like everything with J.J. Abrams’ name attached to it so we’re ridiculously biased about this, however… c’mon, now! This looks awesome… despite the fact the fact that it looks a whole lot like Terra Nova.  Let’s be honest: this is post-apocalyptic/new-earth stuff going on here, so, even though the basic concept is novel, the overall premise is pretty recycled… but that’s OK.  As we’ve noted, all Science Fiction today is recycled, it’s how it’s packaged that counts.  This is feature film quality all the way around with Abrams, John Favreau and Bryan Burk attached to it and it is great to see Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring) getting a regular gig, again. We can only imagine how much this costs to produce and props to NBC for picking it up.

Shawn: Well, this wasn’t particularly hard to call, but it should be noted that Revolution has far exceeded the expectations noted in the preview.  It’s really one of the best pilots that NBC has had in years.  In comparison, for example, it’s far better than The Event‘s was (which by the way, back in the early days of The ‘Tastic we gave more credit to it then it deserved based on the pilot) and believe it or not, it’s pretty straight-forward and linear so it won’t be particularly confusing and difficult to keep up with as you would imagine a series like this would be.

The characters in this show, although many of them taking their cues from Lost, are compelling and well-written and all swimming in various shades of gray.  It says a lot that right off the bat, 10 minutes into the pilot episode, a dilemma is immediately presented for the audience where they are forced to actually take sides against a hero and in favor of the villain.  That’s hardcore and it’s engaging and few shows would take a risk like that during the meet and greet.  Revolution is very reminiscent of AMC’s The Walking Dead in that it’s  just as much of an examination of the human condition as it is a mystery/adventure and story of survival.

Despite the fact that it’s always hanging over our heads and is an integral part of the show, Revolution is very careful not to dwell on what caused the blackout, only going so far as to provide a brief glimpse at the initial event and having the characters refer to it in a manner as to remind the audience exactly how devastating it would be if we suddenly were thrust into the 1800’s.  Early on, Aaron mentions that he used to work for a company called “Google” and had $80 million in the bank and would trade it all for a roll of Charmin.  It’s quick little pot-shots like that and a few limited flashbacks to fill in some blanks surrounding the plot and the characters that serve to effectively tell the story without being intrusive.

There’s plenty of well-choreographed action in Revolution and they have done a fantastic job creating a believable post-apocalyptic universe through the use of gorgeous set and scenic design, natural landscapes and very well-done CGI.  The performances range from serviceable to outstanding and unlike its predecessors, this is one epic SciFi serial that may actually stand a chance of survival with audiences.  Are there some corny, cringe-worthy moments?  Sure, it’s on network TV… what do you want? Overall, though, it’s an outstanding package.

Redeye Rogue:  Revolution  has indeed far exceeded expectations with the pilot episode   –  the buttery first episode, of which runs 43 minutes but feel like 43 seconds, covers all you need to know about this upcoming NBC series being brought to us by J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau. The brilliant gem stands out among the class of sitcoms and police procedurals.  While not as good as The Walking Dead, there is some real potential here.  Simply put, RedEye Rogue would love to get this series alone behind the middle school. Loved the Jedi lunchbox… interesting that it wasn’t Star Wars, but Return of the Jedi.  Was this foreshadowing something?

Chance of Renewal: 60%

We were very concerned about Revolution based on the trailers and the show description because network audiences have not traditionally embraced SciFi serials.  That being said, post-apocalyptic themed shows that focus more on the characters and story development and use the SciFi theme as more of a backdrop than a device to beat the audience over the head with have been finding a loyal following over the past few years (see: Falling Skies and The Walking Dead as examples of success and Terra Nova as an example of the failure, focusing far too much on SciFi with traditional audiences).  Although we are cautiously optimistic, this show is so incredibly well-done and compelling that even we think it can overcome its handicap of being a SciFi show on network television.  So now, we’re calling it at better than 50%.

Watch the pilot of Revolution, right now, ahead if the September 17th premiere, here.

5 comments on “ADVANCE REVIEW: ‘Revolution’ (NBC – Monday, 10:00 p.m.)

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