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
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.
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.
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.