‘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. This looks like it might be worth a watch, although nothing that is earth-shattering great. I will watch a couple episodes on the website, or when it comes out on Netflix, and see how it is.

  2. I watched it when it premiered online a couple weeks back and it gave me a big sense of “meh”…I think J.J. Abrams is tapped out and wants another Lost with the same elements but with a bland Twitard cast…

    That is the problem with this current batch of shows like Terra Nova, Alcatraz and Revolution…it tries too much to appeal to the Twilight crowd and to the Lost crowd and fails to realize that these are two completely different and not overlapping fan bases…

    Lost hooked from the first moment and had such a compelling cast that came on strong and while faltered in later seasons, it was still a phenomenal show with great actors and great roles (Hurley, Ben Linus, John Locke, Sawyer, etc)…

    Revolution has none of this in the first episode while still trying to give us stereotypes and cliches in a ridiculous high concept plot line (really?? everything stops working, even steam power and combustion engines) and wants us to stick around while they develop the secrets for the long haul…

    I saw less of Fringe and Lost and more of Twilight and the Hunger Games and that is what is going to kill this sorry series…

    • You forgot Falling Skies on that list. There seems to be a glut of shows with more than one annoying teen character that must be there to appeal to a certain demographic. Things wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t write them as such generic whiny teenagers. Seriously if something major is going on I would expect at least one or two teenagers to get their head on straight.

      • that’s exactly what completely turned me off to Terra Nova.

      • Cmon you can’t be hating on Falling skies and matter as well be saying that Walking Dead was a bad show, but it definitely shows they have made it this far by both coming back for another season…

    • I really did like the ep, but I know what you mean. I enjoyed Charlie a lot, but any second with that weird forced ‘love interest’ thing was bloody annoying and pathetic. Can we not have a main badass female character without a bloody love element, at least for a little bit, especially one so formulaic??

  3. I’m watching right now actually and it’s pretty good. Definitely something I’ll give a few episodes at least to see where it goes.

  4. I saw the preview earlier. Did any one notice, after 15 yrs without power how clean the main cast were?

    • You don’t need electricity to bathe.

      • You do need electricity to style hair. Everyone seems a little to well groomed. Scissors can only do so much. I don’t know what the shelf life of makeup is but the women seem to be coming by it pretty easily.

        • Humans have only lived with electricity for the last 100 years or so. I am pretty sure that before then we weren’t all haggard beasts.

        • We’ll let that be your little secret, because people have had pretty extravagant hairstyles for hundreds of years now.

  5. Well I gave it a try but it just doesn’t work. The basic no electricity idea just isn’t that interesting. The lead actress is terrible. I didn’t hear a single convincing line of dialogue from her and the post apocalyptic setting has been done to death. It’s pretty much a one trick show. Once we find out what shut off the electricity the show is pretty much over.

    • Would you rather have what happened on the show happen for real and that would make it better for you? After all this is just an action/adventure/scifi show, and shouldn’t be taken as a science documentary…

    • Um no, she was very blood good, actually… wrong!

  6. I’d like this show to be good but… I can’t see that happening =\ Most anything worth watching on television these days are on premium networks, or AMC.

  7. i thought the pilot was “Good” at best. I got a crappy Katniss Everdeen feeling from the lead girl but without all the cool stuff that made The Hunger Games compelling. As for the rest of the cast, the saving grace was the militia leader from Breaking Bad. IMO he was the only one that gave a performance worth following. I think the concept of the show has some cool places it could lead but like someone mentioned above…coal, steam, nuclear and hydrologic power all stopped working…highly unlikely and a little far-fetched

    • It would have to be some sort of world wide energy dampening field.

      • But fire canstillclearly be made so why atentthereany combustion engines or steam power? Hmm the google guy does say batteries stopped working. That is odd, though batteries stored energy chemically… Forget cars and such, If electrons can’t do their thing how is life possible period?

      • Yeah, with a nuclear blast, sunspots, or something very destructive I don’t see how mankind has not managed to get back up to at least early 1900′s standards. People back then figured it out from scratch, I’m sure there are still some books laying around.

        I guess they are trying to make some broader statement about mans reliance on technology, but it’s just a breadcrumb trail that everyone has already been shown. The working computer at that farm shows that whatever happened has either worn off, or can be circumvented. Now it’s a matter of taking a long trip to either get to a predicable ending, or they will try and be clever and do something that makes no sense.

        • Its JJ Abrams I guarantee it’ll be interesting non-sense. Alcatraz started to go into that direction. I was hoping that(SPOILERS Rebbacca died SPOILERS) cause that would have brought up the ratings. But ultimately fox canceled it so we will never know how weird it would have gotten.

  8. It was interesting. But I think they got to the Uncle too fast. I think that it would have been better if there was a 2 or 3 episode journey to get to him. It was almost like he was a cross the street. We need to understand that the world al thought smaller is a very dangerous place. Her dad needed to either be proven right that the world is dangerous or wrong and he was just being over protective. They either need to establish that the girl was a bad ass or have her get to be more of a bad ass as she searched for her Uncle. Her being a whinny rebel teenager was not what I was looking for. I think the whole project could have used at least a twice over before going to shoot. There was some plot issues that came close to breaking it and the poor thing is just getting started. I will keep watching. It will either be great or a great train wreck.

  9. this was the same thing that was put up on hulu a couple weeks ago?

  10. Managed to get through 24 minutes of “Revolution” before turning it off. How JJ Abrams is involved in this turkey is beyond me. The lameness and inconsistencies displayed cannot be overstated. Not even Giancarlo Esposito can save this one.

  11. I watched it today. It wasn’t bad. It was good but it has the potential to be great. Hopefully it gets better. I’ll give it a few eps. How did they get to Chicago in one night? It should have been a few eps at least. It does leave me wanting more and why that woman had power. Just curiousity. Plus I’m a fan of Burke so I’ll watch a few.

    • The show started off in the country of Illinois outside the city and thats how they got to Chicago in one night..

  12. First ten minutes had me interested then just wfter Gus came in, instead of growing more awwesome, out of no where it became a CW pretty teen hunger games ripoff complete with the chick wearing a similar outfit to the broad from hunger games and carrying a bow? (composite bow yes I know but come the F on!)
    After vomiting I switched to Netflix survivor man reruns

  13. Considering the talent behind the show I expected more from them. Taking basically the backdrop from the movie, “The Postman” and re-purposing it for this show is an unimpressive and frankly a bit of a hack maneuver. Hollywood might be stuck in reboot/remake mode but we do NOT need that lack of originality to start bleeding over into all visual mediums.

    They also steal the secret tech angle from the show, “Jericho” which, at least for now, makes no logical sense from a global EMP stand point. They may be able to eventually explain their way out of it but many (like myself) might not be willing to suspend their utter disbelief until the get to that point.

    • Do you mean Kevin Costner’s Postman?

      • Yep, right down to the antagonist being the leader of the biggest militant group.

    • A friend of mine keyed in on the Hunger Games parallel with the main female lead after watching the online preview just like others here have noted. The show is such a mash-up of previously explored ideas and archetypes that it will be hard for the creators to distinguish this show from everything else if they keep going the road they appear to be on.

      I feel that various forms of media in some way take for granted what fans of any given genre will happily accept just because it fits a certain mold. This show as it stands is no better than some of the programs on SyFy in many ways, and the biggest draw they have is the names of the producers and creative team that they have used to push the show more then the actual content of the show.

      Maybe it will get better and catch on with fans, or even more troubling it will catch on and never actually evolve. There have been several shows over the past few years that really were mediocre in many ways that got really popular for one or two seasons, and then at some point viewers wise up and get tired of it and they are gone as quickly as they came.

      • lol, sounds like oyu are refering to “Heroes”. The first season was great with all the origins but then just got stupid.

        And yes, they seem to be borrowing the lead character from the Hunger Games. So take that and add it to Jericho and The Postman and we pretty much have it. :P

    • you underestimate the technology possible that could be creating an EMP like on Jericho or creating something similiar to Revolution because with today’s weapons that are being created its only a matter of time before they are stolen and misused to create an event similiar to Jericho or Revolution… What will all the naysayers do on here if something like that does happen? Will you all go “ohh well” and just live your lives as you are now? I take these shows as showing me in a way how to survive if something like this does happen…

      • Not exactly sure what I’m underestimating. I know that a global EMP is something we can’t exactly do atm but unless there is a continuious field, we should be able to just replace all of the zapped tech and move forward (a small but painful stumbling block). If there is a global field in effect then those cute little USB egg protectors would then zap the drives the moment they tried to be used.

        Doesn’t make a lot of sense (at least to me) I only hope they can explain it before we get bored with the show and it’s highly derivitive premise.

        • I also wondered why someone didn’t just re-invent technology. The old stuff is fried, but that doesn’t mean new stuff can’t be made. Even elementary school kids learn how to power a lightbulb with an electrolyte solution. Surely, there are enough electrical engineers out there to recreate an electrical circuit.

      • I truly hope you aren’t this or any other show that seriously, they won’t help anyone survive anything aside boredom if even that. And if you are implying something like this might happen in real life, I doubt the people critiquing this show will have time to worry about programs on televisions that will no longer work…

  14. I think that the premiere of Revolution started off good, giving us enough to come back next week. I have heard a lot of mixed reactions to the show, including my coworkers at Dish that I got to watch the show too. I was one that really enjoyed it, but it can go another direction within a couple episodes, so I’m really glad that it recorded with my Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature, so that way I don’t have to choose this show over anything else I’d like to watch this year. I can’t wait to see how the show moves on next week; I think it could run for a long time if it keeps it up from this week!

    • Clever post. Spam and eggs are an interesting breakfast too……

    • Nice Plug.

  15. I like it so far. Though it kinda reminds me of Planet of the Apes without the apes.

  16. I’ll watch episode 2 so I can say I gave it a decent shot but to be honest the pilot was pretty bad.
    Even with an interesting premise the 1st 10 minutes or so were terrible. Especially the actor who played the father. After that the only highlight for me was seeing Gus but that’s about it.
    I expected more from Kripke, Faverau and Abrams.

  17. A lot of mixed responses in the comment section here…
    I think I’ll check it out some time, but it doesn’t look like something I’ll be in a hurry to watch every week.

    • Not trying to be insensitive but do you people in SA get American TV? (and I mean like all the channels we have) Most countries only get a few channels just like we only get say BBC America from England.

      Or do you just go out and look for the shows on the internet?

  18. watched it and its interesting but wish they didint go to 15 years write away they only showed like 2 mins of the lights going out and planes crashing they should have showed more of the after affect. other then that it was pretty disappointing but ill still watch it

    • they are gonna show more flashbacks as the show goes on, and its not like they aren’t gonna show anymore at all what happened before the blackout…

  19. I don’t understand how Favreau keeps getting directing work. His films remind me of this phase my aunt went through in the 70s when she did The Last Supper as a paint-by-the-numbers but was convinced she created a masterpiece. All she had to do was not screw up but that doesn’t make her DaVinci.

  20. So someone has access to power. That was about the only interesting plot development and it was at the very end. I did like the way uncle fought the militia, badass moves there, guy.

  21. I watched until they set off for the Uncle. Then I shut it off. All the younger characters were too stupid to live and the older ones weren’t much better. Everything was far far far far far too clean. Even the kudzu at the amusement park was perfectly placed. Put a filter or SOMETHING on it.

    Again, too clean, too perfect, waaaay too many perfectly fitting clothes. Bright blue tank top fits perfectly? Of course. She dyed it and made it herself! *eye roll*

    I’ll skip this. It’s far too much like S.M. Sterling’s books. He did it first and he did it better.

    • Sarah is dead right, S.M. Sterling’s “Dies in the fire” from the Emberverse series is what this based off of, and typical JJ Abrams, he took a GREAT concept and ruined it with his want for flashy, cryptic and bad directing. I think Abrams is a one hit wonder, Lost, now he should go and find that island.

    • 100% agree

  22. The show’s basic premise has too many logical holes for me to enjoy it or reasonably suspend disbelief and nothing about the characters or the plot are interesting enough to overcome these initial failings.

  23. well, thats a rough review, but not unfounded in its writing and I agree some of the episode lags and tends to drag the audience off in different directions. The brother seems like a very unnecessary character, but I think he will be our eyes on the other side of what is going on with the Militia.
    THAT SAID, I think the biggest failing of the first episode was the fact that it was only an 45 mins long and not a 2 part 2 hour long Pilot which would allowed for more character developement and fleshing out of the world they are in , even though I think we got a pretty good idea where this world is. In watching this, it reminded me of what the world would like in other parts of the country from where the movie “the Postman”, takes place.

  24. I agree with the review about the two most interesting characters, and they are the reason that I’ll tune in again. I’m skeptic about putting time into another genre show like this to have it cancelled on me (Jericho, Terra Nova, Alcatraz) because that is what networks do.

  25. I was interested in this for the first 8 minutes when it opened with Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell) who we find out later died (though I’m sure she isn’t really dead, and we’ll see her in upcoming episodes – probably on the General’s Side – just guessing). The thing that really killed it for me was the death of Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee), the most interesting Character who dies within the first 20 minutes. Ummm really… I agree with Kevin that as of right now the only saving grace is Billy Burke & Giancarlo Esposito‘s characters. I’m looking forward to seeing Elizabeth Mitchell, hopefully come back and the writers giving a lot more character depth to the existing characters; However, I don’t see that happening with the three teenagers – or care. By the way, if the writers honestly think that in this case the kids are going to be leading the group with their vast experiance of NOTHING then think again. The Hunger games on the other hand, is a different scenario – there are no adults to help and each individual teenager is left on their own-they have to step up or die. The only thing I can understand is a sister wanting to get her brother back. But if this show is going to be focused on an 18 year old who knows nothing about the world but is going to be the one to lead- I’m not interested.

    • Rachel Matheson (Elizabeth Mitchell), i hope she is dead and stays dead…I don’t want her to return…crying over her son Tyler….(from V)

  26. I was ganna give it a shot but after reading some the comments above, I dnt think I will.
    Why am not surprised? Because its JJ Abrams. I think he’s overrated IMO. MI3, Super 8 n I kno I’m ganna be flamed for this but even star track was nothing especial. Just my opinion

  27. i liked the premise, but the katniss wannabe is not a very good actress. my 17 year old daughter commented on how everyone seemed to have perfect fitting clothes. my biggest gripe with the big fight scene near the end was when the girl was getting attacked by one of the militia, she was on the ground, back to a wall, and the guy was using his sword like it was an axe, instead of trying to stab. it was sooo corny looking. i am curios to see where it goes, so i will give it a couple more episodes, but so far, looks like an early cancellation.