‘Revolution’ Series Premiere Review

Published 3 years ago by

Maria Howell Zak Orth Tracy Spiridakos Billy Burke Graham Rogers Giancarlo Esposito Revolution NBC Revolution Series Premiere Review

The most compelling thing about J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke’s Revolution is how, despite a spectacular opening filled with plenty of mystery and suspense, the pilot pushes into a somewhat listless story of a world irrevocably changed.

15 years into the future, everyone refers to the world as having once plunged into chaos, and for obvious financial and storytelling reasons, this event is not depicted, so we are left with the aftermath: a society where most folks seem comfortable enough – though certainly not by today’s standards – but in creating that atmosphere, the larger notion of conflict with implications for all mankind is sapped from the pilot’s narrative and the show is basically forced to start over.

Revolution has a fascinating concept and there’s an abundance of intrigue: clandestine groups controlling the world’s fate through energy deprivation, a massive militia being run by a despotic individual with a penchant for branding those in his charge, and a group of survivors banded together to unravel the mystery that plunged the world into chaos in the first place.

What Revolution manages to do with all of that intrigue is point toward what could be a compelling series. As it stands now, the pilot episode is a mostly perfunctory endeavor that is overflowing with character beats and reveals so that we’re left with only the faintest, most basic idea of who these characters are, and why we should care. Most troublesome, is that the pilot seems convinced in having the least interesting people set the plot in motion. As such, Revolution is primarily concerned with making the two teens, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and her brother Danny (Graham Rogers), as exciting as possible, but does so without much success.

Danny doesn’t qualify for anything more compelling than being asthmatic, which seems to be an affliction that humanizes him, but isn’t debilitating enough that he can’t function – or his asthmatic episodes offer plenty of chance to put him in the good graces of more interesting characters. His sister Charlie has the independent spirit required of such an adventure program, but also a worldly innocence that puts her in search of an uncle and kidnapped brother with nothing more than a former Google employee named Aaron (Zak Orth) and her late father’s crafty girlfriend, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), in tow.

Maggie and Aaron each bring something special to the table: Maggie’s a doctor and can whip up some potions to quell Danny’s asthma attacks, while Aaron is basically wistful for products of convenience like Charmin and can identify things like airplanes for members of the younger generation. On their journey, they come across the mysterious Nate (J.D. Pardo), an obvious person of interest for young Charlie, but, as with the issue facing her and Danny, Nate suffers from having all the charm and flavor of white toast and water. Thankfully, the plot speeds along at a good clip and much of the episode is spent getting these disparate people together to form what will be the series’ core group – the reluctant cornerstone of which has the tired and unappealing attribute of being good at killing people.

Giancarlo Esposito Revolution NBC Revolution Series Premiere Review

Despite the character handicap, Billy Burke’s portrayal of Miles, as the roguish, sarcastic uncle with some serious distilling skills is, in addition to Giancarlo Esposito‘s Monroe Militia commander, Captain Tom Neville, the saving grace of Revolution. Though their paths never cross in the first episode, they grant the program (as was likely intended) its two most dynamic and interesting characters so far. Esposito is every bit the polite, but ruthless character he portrayed in Breaking Bad, but considering Neville is operating under the auspices of the Monroe Militia, there’s no need for secrecy – and that, has Esposito turning in a good performance, despite having a much a duller edge to work with. Still, for a pilot in desperate need of some defining characters, Esposito and Burke are certainly putting in double duty.

What’s most interesting about the program is that it’s been 15 years since the lights went out, but, as opposed to other similar storylines, the world doesn’t seem to be in bad shape. Sure, it’s a little disorderly, plants are growing in and around everything and some cars are now used as flower boxes, but it also looks like a quaint, agrarian civilization where the most immediate threats are conscription and reeducation by the local militia, or the occasional bandit one might meet on the road. Who hasn’t thought of a world where the various annoyances, complexities and dangers of modern society simply don’t exist any longer? Suddenly, the world is a much bigger, and in some ways, less complex place, and in order to make it, one has to have some relevant skill to offer. Of course, as Aaron’s contributions to the group so dutifully illustrate, many of us would be about as worthless as his $80 million dollars in such a world.

Billy Burke Tracy Spiridakos Zak Orth Revoltion NBC Revolution Series Premiere Review

That’s definitely an intriguing concept worthy of exploration, but perhaps what’s most troublesome about the pilot is that with names like Eric Kripke, J.J. Abrams and Iron Man director Jon Favreau helming the episode, the end result (at this point anyway) feels short of what the trio’s extensive and impressive resumes suggest they could have delivered.

Certainly, since the success of ABC’s Lost, NBC (among many other networks) has been trying to find that program’s successor and bring it on board to lift their once mighty ratings. While Revolution utilizes plenty of the same narrative elements, it’s too soon to tell whether a world without energy will capture imaginations like the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 once did. There are plenty of enigmatic clues pointing to what truly happened/is going on and the use of a green computer screen in the episode’s final moments is more than a little familiar. The question now becomes, can Revolution build on the premise and develop its characters sufficiently so that viewers tune in long enough for the show to expand and explore its characters and mythology to the point that it might become more compelling? Right now, there is intrigue, but Revolution has a way to go before it becomes genuine interest.


Revolution continues next Monday with ‘Pontiac, Illinois’ @10pm on NBC.

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  1. I too found the show off putting by how clean everything was. I felt Battlestar Galatica had a dirtier cast and they were in a spaceship!

    The tight leather pants, the barely worn boots etc etc … add to that the obese main character … after 15 years I don’t think anyone that wasn’t some time of royalty or upper class could eat that much and work that little.

    In my own experience if I go camping for a week I come back with holes in my jeans and lost 10 lbs. After 15 years of “camping” my clothes would be more patch than garment, and I would be in the best shape of my life.

  2. Life didn’t seem that difficult in the pilot. I found it difficult to care, but I’ll stick it out. It HAS to pick up eventually.

    • I’ll be sticking it out also. I hope the pretty boy soldier dies, if he doesn’t i see a love interest developing….

    • What you said was kiss-of-death for any new series. An audience member saying “I found it difficult to care” translates to an exec saying “I find it difficult to renew this series beyond episode 6.” Contrast that feeling with Abrams last series, LOST, whose pilot remains one of the most impressive in TV history. While feelings remain divided about the eventual course the island saga took, LOST made a spectacular landing when it premiered in 2004. I’ve watched people pick the story up from the beginning and, within the first 5 minutes, I invariably heard them say “Ok, I’ve GOT to see what happens.” And that’s exactly what you want a pilot to do. Your audience should never, ever have to TRY and care about your characters. Sadly, there is more wrong with Revolution than audience investment, but nothing more damaging. At this point, the verdict is one season, tops.

  3. Basically I found it a disappointment, I was hoping for a show that dealt with the REAL problems to be faced in this situation.
    But I got some teenageish, clean cut, bad melodrama. Swords, crossbows, and muzzle loaders, REALLY ? One guy kills a whole squad of trained solders, in a sword fight ! Give me a break !
    A waist of time, won’t watch it again.

    • You said it. I watched the first episode. Terrible. Couldn’t finish it. Why are they all acting like it’s the 19th century? Everyone is so clean there’s a fat guy, after 15 years, and basically this “Militia” thing is just idiotic. Where are al these crossbows coming from anyway? Found it boring, unrealistic, young adult fiction. I was excited when I saw that guy from Breaking Bad, a much better show, but even his performance wasn’t that good.

  4. Its ok for all you people saying you aren’t gonna watch this again at least those of us who did enjoy it helped it get off to a GOOD start since it was revealed that this show has received the highest ratings for its premiere episode on NBC since Lost went off the air.

  5. Excellant concept, lost interest when the main girl showed up with makeup and looking as though she just stepped out of a spa,,,,,,,really?

    • I agree completely. I turned it off when the girl was trying to sneak up on the archer guy – the completely clean, perfectly coiffed, expertly shaved GQ looking guy. The utter lameness of it all. Everyone’s teeth are white, and there’s obviously an over-abundance of haircare products and laundry soap available. And don’t get me started about guns. If it was a one-time EMP, fine, but like so many others have commented, the world would be well on its way to rebuilding. If, however, there’s some kind of dampening field in place, the guns wouldn’t work either. You need a spark of some kind to ignite the powder in a bullet, and sparks are electrical. The show’s a turkey from the outset, I won’t bother again.

      • Why are muzzle loading guns so common in this show? Considering they are in a country where guns are plentiful, it makes no sense that everybody’s using guns that are rare and ineffective. Where did they get all these muskets anyway?

        To the poster above me, guns are not electrical. The hammer creates the spark.

        • To the poster above me, I know the hammer creates the spark. It’s the spark itself that’s electrical, and where an electrical dampening field, there shouldn’t be any sparks.

          • The sparks that ignite a round in gun are not from electricity, modern guns work under the same principle as the muzzle weapons they use in the show. So if the energy dampening field they are trying to establish in the show was supposed to be that powerful, none of those guns would work, and odds are they also could not create fire.

            At some point down the road when they explain the whole thing maybe it will be clearer what happened, but as it is the only thing they have built is that the man-made electricity went out and technology that relied on it became useless. One has to wonder if electricity still exists in nature under their theory.

  6. I haven’t seen anyone yet mention that near the end of the pilot episode, the militia would – if a quality script had been written – have more thoroughly searched the house the boy was found hiding in, and they’d easily have discovered that cobbled-together computer.

    Also, the woman who hid the boy, would probably have been heavily questioned for having lied to the militia commander, and she would have probably been treated far worse than that, if the computer had been discovered.

    Such serious plot loopholes are an embarrassment to such a pedigreed production.

    • Well if they found the makeshift computer, and subsequently the same USB drive they wanted from the father at the beginning of the episode, then the show would be over for all intents and purposes. Probably not the way they want to go if they want the show to last, but it does speak to some of the uneven writing choices for the pilot.

      It seems like they wanted to get people on board and give them a few breadcrumbs to get them to come back, but it just brings up a lot of questions right from the start that might be distracting.

      • Yes, Slayer, I agree with your points. Though, the writers, with a modicum of creativity, could have located the computer behind a false wall, or some such thing. But, a door with a bunch of locks on it, would only have motivated the militia men to kick the door down.

        Also, another plot oversight (which I saw on another site), pointed out that if all electrical power sources were extinguished, then every nuclear reactor in the world would have blown up. Now, THAT would have put a damper on the show’s premise.

        • I am guessing they will delve deeper into the overall mythology sooner than later and give some more back story on how things got from point A. The power going out (World wide?), and point B. Everyone living like it’s the 1800′s. The loss of electricity would cause a great deal of panic, disruption and possible upheaval, but it is hard to really tell what happened and to what extent so far on the show. Almost twenty years after the fact it seems like people have given in to the fact there is no electricity and made no attempts to try and rebuild even low-level technology for some reason.

          The hidden computer as plot device not only brings up the point you made, but it gives away a major loop hole in their narrative. If that computer was dialing out on a modem then it stands to reason that analog communication is still possible and there are enough phone and telegraph lines that the government would not have fallen apart all at once. It also gives away the fact that there is someone receiving the transmission somewhere else, and they must have continuous power to be able to get the message when sent.

          The after effects of the electricity going out should probably be explained better as the show goes on, unless they just want to keep it vague. Not only would nuclear plants melt down (which would be more of a reason for society to crumble), but what happened to places like Hoover Dam and naturally occurring electricity?

  7. I don’t feel like reading the comments to see if anyone said this but my god i just finished this the ending is like literally stolen from Jericho. Not even a little bit kind of it’s like 100% from Jericho

  8. I was so excited to see it cause it’s from JJ Abrams, however I was really put off by how clean and nice looking everyone was. Eyebrows were perfect, no dirt on face – just threw me off considering the environment they were in. May give it a chance, but there’re so many good shows out there that I may just let this one go…

  9. Well, I DVRed episodes 1 & 2 and am about 15 mins into episode 1 and I would have sworn I’ve been watching it for at least an hour!

    OK, now I’ve watched them both.

    The nice, clean, well-fitting clothes—even a nice leather belt, nice jackets that look like they came from Banana Republic or somewhere and all in just the right sizes!

    Nate’s shirt that fits him like skin looks like Under Armor.
    With no electricity, how are all these nice clothes being made? Where are they finding make-up? Where did the blond dr broad get her hair spiral curled? They each have nice, sturdy looking backpacks.
    How have they been managing to extract enough oil from the ground and refine it to light all those lamps for 15 years?
    And candles—wouldn’t you think any available candles would have been used up after 15 years? Where would they get wicks and wax, etc to make new ones?
    There must have been a gigantic supply of matches too, for them to still be plentiful after 15 years!
    Since the fat guy would give his 80 million for a roll of Charmin, what are they using?
    How are they making booze?
    An athsma inhaler that still works after 15 years?
    And then at the end of episode 2, Rachel in her classy long sleeved white nicely ironed blouse and the curtains in her office—white sheers that were also clean and pressed. Not to mention still having reams of paper and working ball-point pens after 15 years.

    What a lame-ass show!

    • I think everyone on here has valid points. The reason the show is getting the ratings is there are millions of people who think this is what life will be like after an EMP, or global financial collapse. They want to see what it looks like. And because they have done such a poor job of showing what it will actually look like, people will probably stop watching.

  10. Had some promise… but the two main characters are killing it for me. They seem too spoilled, too pampered, too NOT post-apocalyptic. In my humble opinion, in a post-apocalyptic world people learn to be tougher. Charlie was trying to be the conscience of her uncle, almost getting him killed and before that pouting because he did not want to follow, her brother actually DID get their father killed and somewhere there all I have to comment is that them two are in the cast more for the looks rather than actual acting skills.

  11. this show looks so bad that it makes tera nova and falling skies look like a good shows, and its hard cause they are the worst shows even created (well them and whitney). the worst of all is the horrible casting. the acting is elemetary school level. stand above them all is Anna Lise Phillips which makes bad actresses looks bad. avoid at all cost

    • @ Shay I would have to disagree because they keep coming back with more seasons of Falling Skies so you can only say that show is so bad from your point of view but the majority of viewers would probably have to disagree

  12. Theres alot of dumb unrealistic things in this series. All of things that happen in the episodes are so stupid period that it makes me angry at the writers. I give you on this dumbass show, FALLING SKIES DID A BETTER JOB IN KEEPING IT REALISTIC AND EVEN THEY HAD A GOVERNMENT.

  13. Seriously? A series where built around the power going out? The writers are either dumb or believe that we, the audience are dumb. This is definitely a no-go ploy joke show stopper. I won’t watch it.

  14. Seriously? A series where built around the power going out? The writers are either dumb or believe that we, the audience are dumb. This is definitely a no-go plot hole show stopper. I won’t watch it.

  15. Well I hate to break it to you Gary but you not watching Revolution will not change anything because it was missing from the shows in trouble list so that is a good sign for those of us who actually do like the show :)

  16. 1. After 15 years even the most pitiful or idealistic personalities would have already been altered and hardened. Yet several people in this series remain completely worthless impediments to everyone else’s health and survival. Not even a pet dog would have remained that sheltered for so long.

    2. The brother, Danny has asthma yet the only disability he appears to show is his judgment of character or in judgment overall. We have yet to see him gasping for air though even after being smacked to a pulp, enduring the dust and soot from a tornado and cringed building, being strangled etc.

    3. Danny’s sister, Charlie is just a stumbling young idiot behaving more like a foolish 6 year old utilizing not just tantrums as tools, but also changes her mind as the wind blows.

    4. People appear to be in nose-busting, bruising battles but turn up the next day unblemished. Some are maimed and appear unable to move to save the day but can get back up the next day to hike.

    5. No one gets dirty yet there are no showers in the woods (which is apparently what the world has become) though there are streams and hair remains clean (shampooed). Everyone also has great teeth.

    6. A tornado with lightening passes through, but I’m guessing the electricity in that lightening is an illusion.

    7. Personalities can take a complete 360 degree turn in a matter of minutes (or at least overnight) since Charlie went from an idiot toddler to a General soldier in that amount of time.

    Aside from the fact that the overall situation is pulled from boilerplate scenarios that so MANY are being fashioned under right now, I was hoping for something more than this month-old series has yet to offer. I am just simply bored.

  17. this series is tooo nice..i have a test tomorrow buh i just kant get ma head outta tis series…please, keep doin wat yo doin…:)

  18. From the UK and the first episode aired last night, i have to say i am extremly disappointed, it lacked…everything really.

    Billy Birk helped save it a little, and maybe because of him i will continue to the 2nd episode, hope it improves because the concept is good, but the pilot is absolutely TERRIBLE

  19. Revolution is a good series as well as the actors.
    I love Tracy Spiridakos is one of my favorite actresses adore.
    I hope more episodes of Revolution.

  20. One very unrealistic trait of the General Monroe and Uncle characters that bugged me was the pre-apocalyptic haircuts. Werent they supposed to be Marines? Im a navy guy and even I dont let my hair get that long or grow stylized sideburns. Its almost like the actors read the pilot script and took the job thinking “NBC will be lucky to get one season out of this, I’m not changing my look for the role.” Different hair, weight etc make flashback scenes much easier to buy. I for one know that if the goverment fell apart and I joined the rebel group trying to bring America back Im growing my beard for as long as I can get away with it;)

  21. Compelling? I just watched the show for the first time and I have absolutely no idea what the hell this show is all about. A waste of an hour.

  22. I love the premise of the movie and the idea of it. I, however, hate how the actors clothes are so perfect, they wear make-up, have nice hair, perfectly even shaves etc. There has been no factory to dye to make new clothes, their clothes should be ragged and torn. Charlie in particular looks lie she’s wearing a model’s get-up throughout their endeavors. Its so blatantly ridiculous and in your face I can’t even focus on the awesome storyline. Other shows like the Walking Dead capture the torn, dirty look that they would have in that setting. Also the shear bad-assery of some of the characters isn’t cool, its impossible. In a scene where Norah, Miles, and Jim lay waste to 30+ trained militia… nonsense. I just zone out during such scenes because its so stupid. Also it would be nice if they taught the actress for Charlie how to operate a rifle. In one scene she runs around with a assault rifle, wily nilly, holding it way out of the shoulder pocket firing wildly, not looking down the scope. Doing this, she manages to destroy a dozen TRAINED militiamen. This 16 yr old girl who has only held a automatic rifle twice prior and has no training can do that? Come on. This show has a few parts that could be so much better. If they were fixed I would be able to watch without getting frustrated. I don’t want to insult the makers, but it seems like they were lazy on some of the finer details. Finer details that could turn a show from a classic must-see to a show that frustrates people in stopping watching.

  23. Everybody is talking about the looks of the characters in the show, but nobody thinks it is not the way people would behave if a thing like this happens? You will start killing people, robbing, slaughtering, etc? I don’t think so. Are human beings mean by nature? I don’t buy it. I don’t mind the make up on the girl, or the just bought looking clothes, I actually like that, If I watch a tv show, I rather want to see beauty than reality, otherwise I watch the news.