Adverts for Revolution proclaim loudly about the credentials of the writers, creators and producers, creating a lot of expectations, at least for me. JJ Abrams is a executive producer on Revolution, and think what you will about Lost, one of its key features was the mystery of the island, particularly in its beginning, and if he brings even a small amount of the tension and mystery from Lost then it could be the making of this new show. Eric Kripke, meanwhile, is one of the creators, writers and executive producers on Supernatural, a show which I think is one of the most interesting and innovative on TV, particularly in its first few seasons with the unconventional approach it took to a lot of traditional topics. With other writers who have credits for writing Smallville, Charmed, 24, Alias and Lost, it seems there is a lot of talented people behind the show. Yet I’m left feeling decidedly lukewarm towards the show.
It certainly has an interesting enough premise – what happens when the power goes out? The show picks up 15 years after all power has ceased to function, governments have crumbled and militias have taken over small republics within the USA. The show certainly starts with a bang, with the audience being thrown into this new world feet first, with no explanation of what happened and why. It left me wondering if I had missed an episode. Clearly they are going to tell the story in flashbacks, which could work, but I do feel like the creators have missed out in creating some of the drama and danger factors that make or break these types of post-apocalyptic stories. Some of the show is visually striking. People ride around on horses, use bows and arrows and send messages the old fashioned way, on paper, all of which does emphasise the impact that the loss of power has had on the world. Similarly, planes which have been left to rust on the ground, overturned and abandoned trucks and an overgrown Ferris wheel are all dramatic reminders of the world before.
Billy Burke is a talented actor, his character in Twilight is about the only one I could stand, and his acting in Revolution is solid. He is engaging and intriguing, if very gruff. Tracy Spiridakos is a little uninspiring as the female lead, and her costuming and choice of weapon constantly made me think of Katniss from The Hunger Games, a far more convincing and powerful female character, who too has the motivation to save a younger sibling. Zak Orth is entertaining as the fish out of water so to speak – his character was a Google executive, and is very lost in the post-power age.
However, there is something very lacking thus far in the show. Maybe its the writing, or maybe because we haven’t got to know the characters yet, but I didn’t really care what happened to them. The show tells you that you should care what happens to the father, but gives no reasons why his death (which happens in the first ten minutes) should have so much impact.
It feels far too bright. I understand exactly why this is so, to indicate the absence of smog which comes with industry and power, but for me it just felt wrong. It took away from the post-apocalyptic feeling and jarred with the action. I found myself constantly drawing comparisons with Kripke’s Supernatural, which has a far darker and more gritty image to it due to the image filters used in post production. I felt that Revolution would have more impact if visually it was darker.
At the end of the day Revolution does not, so far at least, have the same feeling of high stakes as The Walking Dead, another of TV’s post-apocalyptic offerings.
Revolution is broadcast on Fridays at 9pm on Sky One.