NBC launches a compelling post-apocalyptic head-scratcher.
It will be interesting to see whether audiences give NBC's new drama Revolution -- a tale about what happens when power goes out across the world, ostensibly forever -- a little patience, a little time to find out just what the producers are trying to say.
Does that make sense? If not, well, Revolution doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's a lot of fun. The producers, peppered very early by critics wanting to know if they actually had a plan -- on behalf of those people burned in the past by epic, serialized stories with a lot of mythology -- have endeavored to prove that they know what the hell they're doing.
But first, a note about said producers: Revolution is touted as a show from J.J. Abrams, but he was mostly there (like Steven Spielberg and all of his recent TV series) as the guy whose name gets it launched. Iron Man director Jon Favreau is a producer on the series and directed the pilot, but it's unclear whether he'll direct more episodes. The series is really from Eric Kripke (Supernatural), with help from the very talented Bryan Burk (Star Trek, Lost).
It's Kripke who told critics that the series brought in a physicist who was delighted by the surprise answer to why the power went out and said, "Yes, that's plausible." And plausibility is going to be a big issue in Revolution. As the pilot opens, we see Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee) rush home to his wife, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell). Ben downloads obviously super-important information from a computer into a really cool thumb drive right before the epic turn of events happens: Every piece of electrical equipment in the world goes out. Planes fall from the sky. Cars die in their tracks. Explosions occur. Governments topple. People fight for food and water. If you dared to stay in a major city, you would probably die. Hope is out in the wild.
Revolution quickly jumps to 15 years in the future -- still no power, and America has turned into a strange, retro agrarian culture. But it's also littered with various militias, dangerous highway gangs and quicker than you can say "Hunger Games meets Planet of the Apes meets Lost," a quirky show with grand ambitions is on your screen.
It is mostly told from the standpoint of Ben's children, daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), who is fearless and appears to have seen Hunger Games 30 times, and son Danny (Graham Rogers), who looks like he didn't understand Hunger Games. They are about to face off with ruthless Capt. Tom Neville (the superb Giancarlo Esposito). While we wait to find out what is preventing electricity, Kripke says, we are to view Revolution not as a post-apocalyptic disaster series but more of a positive series about nature and simpler times.
Oh. See, that's the part that's not readily explained in the pilot. And it turns out, based on comments from Kripke and Favreau, that it's pretty important. Revolution, they say, is only partly about the "why." It's mostly about creating a new utopia of sorts.
Look, we're all going to have to just go with it. The pilot is a winner and it will pull you back the following week.
Airdate: 10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 (NBC)