Fall TV First Impression: Talkin' 'Bout Revolution

The broadcast networks have more than 20 shows debuting this fall, including a fresh take on the Green Arrow, a Nashville home for Connie Britton and a comedy starring Friends‘ Matthew Perry. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

THE SHOW | NBC’s Revolution (Mondays, 10/9c), executive-produced by J.J. Abrams (Lost), Eric Kripke (Supernatural), Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Bryan Burk (Fringe); Favreau directed the Kripke-penned pilot.

THE COMPETITION | Castle (ABC), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), Perception (new, TNT) and Alphas (Syfy)

THE CAST | Billy Burke (The Closer), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Tracy Spiridakos (Being Human), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), David Lyons (ER) and others

RELATED | Fall Preview: TVLine’s Snapshot Guide to All the New Shows

THE SET-UP | One night, everything powered by electricity or even a battery suddenly shuts off — or as one character puts it, “Physics went insane… and nobody knows why.” Well, one person, a scientist-type named Ben Matheson (The Good Wife‘s Tim Guinee) wasn’t entirely in the dark (heh) about a potential global blackout. Flash-forward 15 years, where Ben, daughter Charlie and son Danny are roughing it in a world torn asunder by lawlessness and overrun by weeds (apparently garden tools shut down too?), until an imposing militia boss (Esposito) comes looking for Ben and his MIA brother Miles (Burke). One tragic thing leads to another and plucky Charlie (Spiridakos) flees to find her uncle, who lore has it is good at one thing: killing. Sure ’nuff, in a rollicking fight sequence that caps the pilot, Miles shows off his mad skills and begrudgingly helps his niece rescue her kidnapped bro. Mitchell recently was tapped to replace Andrea Roth as Ben’s ill-fated wife (who in the pilot appears in flashback) and Daniella Alonso (Friday Night Lights) has been added to the mix as a rebel fighter, while Lyons plays Miles’ onetime Army buddy.

RELATED | Get TVLine’s First Impressions of ABC’s Last Resort and The CW’s Arrow

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Revolving as it does around a band of survivors traversing a powered-down, grungy world pocked with pockets of sordid strangers, Revolution evokes The Walking Dead (and in at least one sequence happens to use a distinct location from the AMC drama’s most recent finale). The mystery of “How did this possibly happen?!” also mirrors TWD (as well as FlashForward), while the technological improbability of it all reminded me of the Machine in Abrams’ Person of Interest — meaning it’s something you need to just “accept” as you buy into the premise. (You’ll also need to accept that the Cubs win the World Series in 2012, unless that visual nod gets scrubbed out in the final edit.)
     Among the performances, Burke, who has always been excellent in guest star roles, is poised to finally take a lead, provided Miles can be roused from his Han Solo-like reluctant hero slumber, while Esposito, so, so good on Bad, hits a perfect blend of officious and menacing. Spiridakos has her work cut out for her as the driver of the early narrative (and on more than one occasion had me visually mistaking her for Vampire Diaries alum Kayla Ewell). But of course the big question is how Lost fave Mitchell might amp things up in Mama Matheson’s to-be-reshot scenes — especially since, I hear, a key moment from the pilot is also being re-edited.

RELATED | Read Our First Impressions of ABC’s Last Resort, The CW’s Arrow and CBS’ Elementary

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | The Revolution pilot, as with every J.J. Abrams project, has promise, but this is one of those instances where you really need to see what Weeks 2 and 3 look like, after all the heavy, exposition-laden lifting is done — and especially in the wake of two provocative twists uncorked in the final scenes. I’m certainly curious to see where it goes, but the more relevant question is whether it’ll be enough to pry people away from the always-buzzy Castle and always-formidable Five-0. Lord knows, Mondays-at-10 has been a tough time slot for NBC to crack.

Watch a video preview for Revolution, then vote in our poll below.

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77 Comments
  1. AJ says:

    I’ll definitely be checking it out. The old school DOS computer screen kinda sticks out as a “Lost” moment for me. My only worry is that no matter how much I like most JJ shows, it may not see good enough ratings to last because it will be a show that you will have to watch every week to follow. Kinda like Lost really.

  2. MaryAnn says:

    I don’t understand why Abrams needs to go to a “mysterious” cause for the shutdown of everything electronic. It would make much more sense to have it be permanently heightened sunspot activity, which realistically could fry everything electronic and every power line in the world. Unless he as creator actually knows what’s causing this — and it is something that makes logical sense — the shutdown of power is going to permanently bother me. I hope it won’t bother me too much to suspend disbelief and enjoy the series.

  3. Lee says:

    going against 5-0 & castle?? i was gonna check this out but my monday 9 central dvr slots are already full

    • Jess says:

      I agree Lee. I’m too invested into Hawaii 5-0 and Castle. I’ve been with Castle since season 2 (I didn’t see Season 1…I’m ashamed to admit. But I got the whole season on DVD, so I caught up) and I’ve been with Hawaii 5-0 since episode 1. I wish my DVR had another slot open, cause this show sounds promising.

  4. I’ve already given my opinion on this before, but I was one of the first to see the pilot and I am confident the first to LOVE IT. Are there problems? Sure, if you want to find them. But as a pilot it works better than most. As for the mystery, it doesn’t feel as important until the end of the episode. And I’m not even sure the show needs it in the way THE EVENT teased what the title meant, or even what all the things on the island meant on LOST.

    Also, as for the recast, I’ve heard what they are changing and I actually consider it an improvement. At first I didn’t think they needed to change anything but now I think this will be better for the show in the long run.

    Give this one a chance, people. And like this article says, give it a few episodes. These things survive when the audience sticks with it beyond the initial surprise.

  5. Zaki says:

    I’ll give it the same consideration I gave Alcatraz – as I’d give to any JJ Abrams show, especially after Fringe started slow. I’ll watch it for several episodes and give it a shot. (Also, Hawaii 5-0 isn’t a very smart show and Castle is for shippers only.)

    • Jim says:

      Castle is for shippers only? Seriously? It’s a really good show & always has some great laughs in it. One of the best combinations of drama & humor on TV. I just hope NBC puts Revolution in the On Demand menu.

      • Barbie says:

        Ugh! Shipping & shippers messed up Castle, that’s what happened. It WAS one of the best balanced shows, but now it has lost its focus and it seems it’s all about their relationship. I wish it’d go back to funny cases and their old ways. I miss those days! Castle lost A LOT of its magic when the whole attraction thing took over. It was much better in the beggining. I watch it, but Hawaii Five-0 owns that slot for me now. I fell in love with it now during hiatus. I just hope they don’t screw THAT up now by bringing Michelle Borth into the cast…

        And, nope, no more JJ Abhrams for me. When he comes up with something new, I’ll give it a shot.

        • Abby says:

          The idea and script are Kripke’s not Abrams’. He’s just producing. So it may be more original than you think.

          • John says:

            I wonder if they got the idea from Fantasy writer Ilona Andrews. She has an urban fantasy series that is based on idea that the magic and the laws of physics fluctuate in the world and in the medieval times the laws were based around magic and in her books that is now changing and magic is now becoming prominent and they are currently in a transition phase between the two. But it describes briefly the days when physics stopped and everything went black, planes fell out of the skies etc. which seems to be similar to this show.

      • Yes on demand please. I love Castle and Hawaii 5-0 so my dvr is full, but I really want to watch this show. It’s the main new show I want to check out.

    • davey says:

      My brain is melting in this heat….what is a shipper?

      • Renee says:

        A shipper is someone who “ships” a couple. They are into the relationship of a couple more than they are into the show. Most of the fan fights you see are between people who ship different couples.

        • John says:

          and sooner or later many scripted procedurals decide they need to “evolve” and start succumbing to demands two of their leads hook up. Sometimes for good and sometimes for boring.

  6. Renee says:

    This is one of my top three most anticipated shows. Can’t wait.

  7. just saying says:

    Why wouldn’t you just assume it was an EMP of some sort? Or yeah, the sunspot/solar flare theory works as well. I don’t know why you would assume it was something we’d have to just “accept” when there are more than one plausible theories of how this is scientifically possible. Not to mention the always obvious go to of “alien technology” which is beyond our realm of scientific understanding. I’ll definitely try the show bc I’ve loved Abrams work in the past, I love alt universe shows that think outside the box-whether a little or a lot, and I don’t watch H50 or Castle so there’s no competition there. Alphas replays later in the night, so I can check it out then.

    • Sharantyr says:

      I haven’t seen the pilot yet, but judging from the trailer and the early buzz, there’s suppose to be a fundamental change in physics, which is something that can not be explained by sunspot activity or an emp, for the simple reason that batteries,etc can be recharged without connection to traditional power grids. There are mechanical ways of powering machines, but, correct me if I’m wrong given that I have not seen the pilot, but those cease to work too. That, I believe, is what they mean by “just having to accept it”. Truthfullly, its already bugging the heck out of me, but I think I’ll give them a few episodes to see how they explain it.

  8. Lisa says:

    Wish I hadn’t read this. I was going to DVR it, will not miss Castle, but now that I have read of reshoots and additions to the cast I am worried.

    I think now I will DVR and then watch if it makes past the first cut of cancellations.

    This show seems more suited to the SyFy network, so even it if is a bust on NBC maybe it can go elsewhere.

    • Jason says:

      Oh please, SyFy hasn’t been interested in showing any science fiction for years now. Also, not every reshoot or addition to a show is a sign of something bad. Shows often get changed after the Pilots are made and they get to see first hand what works and what doesn’t. Besides, the reshoot is because the are bringing in Elizabeth Mitchell – which I see as a GOOD thing.

  9. xsikal says:

    I dropped Hawaii 5.0 in its first season, and Castle was pretty awful last year for those not tied up in the ‘romance’ storyline, so I’m definitely looking for something to fill that timeslot :)

    • Renee says:

      Me too. I dropped H50 in season one and Castle two seasons ago. So I’m definitely ready for something new.

  10. chatulim says:

    For an excellent take on what might happen if all electricity, etc., were to suddenly die (and more all-at-once than shown in this clip), check out S.M. Stirling’s “Dies the Fire” and sequels. The novels are grim at times, but very thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to seeing how this story plays out in a television format.

  11. Ally says:

    This is probably the show I’m most excited to check out. It’s up against some heavyhitters and though I timeshift, I would definitely pick this over Hawaii 5-0. I like H50 but as someone else said, the writing isn’t always top calibre.

  12. Kristina says:

    Very excited for this one.

  13. GeoDiva says:

    Mondays at 10pm is the reason I have 2 DVRs. I already record Castle & H50, and I am interested in this show too. I like the Flashforward-type mysterymixed with the survivor stuff like Falling Skies. Plus how can you go wrong with Elizabeth Mitchell?

  14. Poppy Bagel says:

    I’ll check it out, but I’d be anticipating it more than I am if I hadn’t been so disappointed by Alcatraz.

  15. Joanna says:

    Sounds like Jericho 2.0 to me.

    • I know. That’s the only reason I’d consider watching it, Joanna…because it sounds like, “This is what would’ve happened if the characters were different and the ASA hadn’t gotten the power back on.”

  16. jlopie1 says:

    I was so pumped for Alcatraz last season, and then…meh. So, I’m wary of Revolution. I love my H50 so I’ll give Revolution a try on the DVR…but no promises I’ll make it past the premier!

  17. Jazz says:

    Elizabeth Mitchell. That is all.

  18. Teag says:

    Is the pilot 2 hours long?

  19. Temis says:

    This show has two things going for it: a timeslot where it doesn’t have to compete for its core audience, and Giancarlo Esposito. It will do big ratings in the premiere, and from then on, it’s sink or swim on its own merits. The serialized sci fi shows of recent memory that sink on broadcast have done so generally because they sucked.

  20. DAV says:

    Anyone who is attracted to women just needs to scroll up and look at the picture for Jun 30th. THERE is your reason for watching this show. Seriously, even if she’s only on for 30 seconds. That’s why they invented the pause button.

  21. Dusan says:

    there is a huge problem about the “missing” energy, and it’s kind of a big one.. electricity is missing, so petrol engines are dead, but old school diesel engine should work fine… You can run a 1960s tractor by pushing it downhill to start it… and how about steam engines??? the trailer shows fire, so there should be no problem about it…
    The whole premise is not quite well thought trough..

  22. Siria says:

    I’m not exactly a fan of these ‘end of the world’ shows, but this has Billy Burke in it, so I’ll give it a try. Although I don’t see a second season for unless they move it. I might have dropped H50 last season, but I doubt that Revolution will be successful if it is running against Castle and H50.

  23. Alex Agostini says:

    Bit conflicted as NBC has not cared about the viewers for some time now. I like the premise but may end up not watching ’cause it’s in NBC.

    • I was just going to say the same thing. So, let NBC know, I’ll start watching when somethingon its network makes it to its third season. Then, I’ll catch up….

      • becca says:

        I have that same reaction to FOX, They kill a lot of good stuff before it really gets up and going (not just Firefly, but lets face it- it is the poster child of FOX killing off it’s offspring).

        I don’t really watch much on NBC anyway, they rarely have shows that appeal to me. I think I’ll wait a while and watch this when we get three or four episodes in. I’m also a fan of SM Stirling’s Dies the fire and Kripke so the potential is there for this show to be good.

    • Lola says:

      Add me to the list of people who are leery of watching anything new on NBC. They sucked me in again with Awake…Sigh. Just don’t know if I’m going to do it again.

  24. Maria says:

    Nope. Won’t watch anything that goes up against Castle. Mondays at 10pm are reserved for Mr. Fillion and Ms. Katic!

  25. amadeline says:

    Sounds like they’re ripping off S.M. Stirlings novels, which are really fantastic books. This sounds so, so.

    • Zturk says:

      thought the same thing about the concept sounds exactly the same.But the only thing I liked about the Stirling Books was the concept .They put way to much emphasis on religion for my taste.

  26. zath says:

    Why do people never learn, this is going to suck just like Heroes, and Flashfoward. Dont get why its so hyped at all,same formula as other failures its going to dry out very soon. NBC can’t seem to do anything right, this will not be a hit but a flop.

    • Marz says:

      I loved Heroes. As crazy as it got, I watched every minute of it.

    • waitingforaserializedfantasythatdoesntgetcanceledafteroneseason says:

      Exactly. In every article I have read on several web sites about this show, at least one person in the comments has written about Stirling’s novels. But none of the entertainment site writers I read have mentioned them.

      • waitingforaserializedfantasythatdoesntgetcanceledafteroneseason says:

        Sorry; my comment was in reply to amandeline; my technology obviously has been affected by alien space bats. Or it could be human error.

    • Actually, those shows (and don’t forget “The Event” and “V”) make it possible for me to keep my expectations reasonable. You don’t get a Supernatural, POI or LOST (well, much of LOST) every season. If it works, fine, if not, there’s plenty of other stuff to watch. As for the hype, that’s just the way the biz works.

  27. mia says:

    Elizabeth Mitchell + JJ Abrams are what will make me watch this. However, I think I’m going to record the season and then check it out if it gets renewed (which is unlikely).
    .
    Plus, it looks kinda racist from the trailer. All the good people are white and all the bad people are people of colour. Yay.

  28. Whimsical says:

    Cannot get past the ridiuclousness of the premise. Everything electric just shuts off, and they can’t generate anymore? Fine. I can accept that as a central mystery. What I cant accept is the ridiculously low level of technology displayed as a result. Have these people never heard of Steampunk?

    I mightve checked it out just to laugh at it, had they not put it on opposite Castle. Castle all the way.

  29. I can’t wait for this! Elizabeth Mitchell + JJ Abrams? <3

  30. Jo says:

    will check this out because of Abrams and Kripke, big lost fan and even bigger Supernatural fan! If Abrams can pull off something as amazing as Lost and Kripke can re-work some of his magic, should be a good show but guess we’ll have to wait and see :)

  31. coach says:

    This premise is explored in a series of books by S.M. Stirling. The 1st book “Dies the Fire” introduces a world in which most forms of energy just disappear. There are 9 books in the series. I find it hard to believe this idea came from Kripke without some exposure to the books. First book was written in 2004.

    • John says:

      The overall message I got was this was an artificial effect: anticipated (by people involved in the development of the process?) as the main character’s dad is preparing for it ahead of time plus some things at the pilot’s close: so I’d imagine part of the storyline won’t be simply coping with the situation but trying to reverse it.

  32. Ladybug Girl says:

    I’ll DVR this for Abrams, Billy Burke and Elizabeth Mitchell. Watching Castle first, then this. I hope it’s good and that stupid NBC gives it a chance to grow legs.

  33. Thanks for the early info, so annoying to wait for the official “preview” promo stuff. One thing interesting to me is this premise reminds of some French sci-fi I read as a kid. (Ravages, etc.) These guys love the literary homages, so now I’m wondering if we were reading the same stuff back in the day. Agree w@Ladybug Girl, if it’s any good, NBC has got to give it a decent shot and remember that genre is not going to pull the same kind of ratings pulled in the 90s by the procedurals.

  34. Amaia says:

    I wasn’t very interesting but Elizabeth Mitchell is there so of course I’ll watch. Besides Giancarlo Esposito is another great reason to watch it and Billy Burke deserves a lot of credit as well.

  35. joe says:

    This show, last resort and Arrow have me super excited for the fall season

  36. tvdiva says:

    I am gonna need a bigger or multiple DVRs for Monday night. Revolution, Perception, Alphas, Warehouse 13, Major Crimes, Castle, Grimm, Hawaii 5-0 – so many shows to DVR and/or watch!

  37. Jenna587 says:

    I have always said that we know the true sign of the apocalypse is when the Cubs win the World Series…obviously this show shares that sentiment with me. (and I am actually a Cubs fan, not a hater).

  38. Nowhoha says:

    I won’t even go into how physics could change to the point where electrical chemical reactions don’t work, but our neurons still appear to function…
    How is it that all of the actors are well shaved and showered? Also, how is it that all of the paved roads have turned to dirt with no car traffic, but the suburban houses look new. It has been 15 years, where are they getting the supply of Spandex and Lycra?
    Has nobody looked at historical pictures from around the 1860s? People would look like hammered crap. There’s a reason people moved to the cities, farming is HARD work. A 40 year old man or women would look 60, and there hands and faces would show it (plus they’d have precious few teeth left).

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