Revolution “Pilot” Advance Review

It almost sounds like a bad joke: what do you get if you cross Jericho with Katniss from The Hunger Games? A Revolution.

The premise of Revolution is simple. One night, all the lights go out. The pilot opens on Ben Matheson coming home to his young family, telling his wife that ‘it’s all gonna turn off’, and then downloading computer files to an external flash drive. Moments later every vaguely electronic device goes kaput, from airplanes to household batteries, leaving the Americas (and presumably the rest of the world) in the dark. What is everyone to do?

The series proper picks up fifteen years later. Mankind has adjusted to a more natural, rural way of living, though change hasn’t been without its casualties. The USA is now a collection of republics, the main one addressed by Revolution being run by the mysterious ‘Monroe’. It’s he who calls for Ben Matheson to be brought to him by his Militia men. The arrest doesn’t go well, however. This leads Ben’s daughter, Charlie, a crossbow wielding beauty, on a quest to track down her uncle. Miles Matheson may be able to help Charlie, but first he needs to watch his back. The Militia are after him, too. But why?

The thing about a series created by both JJ Abrams (Lost, Fringe) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural) is that it inevitably has a huge mystery at its core. In this case it’s a question of what or who caused the power to go out, and how did it happen? How are humans still incapable of making electronics work, fifteen years on? The idea of the world being plunged into blackness, of us all having to give up our laptops and smart phones and return to striving and toiling, is a provocative one. It’s a worrisome thought and it should make us feel for the characters and the situations they face.

Except it sort of seems like Revolution missed a trick by skipping fifteen years forward. We don’t get to see how people came to terms with the event first hand, and instead we pick up after they have adjusted. Things in the post-electronic world aren’t easy, but they’re not as hard as they could be. This is where the Jericho comparison comes in.

Jericho was another dystopian post-event series (and the echoes of Jericho are loud and clear in Revolution), but where that series excelled was in showing us how the characters of the town adjusted to the changes in their situation. It lead us to care for the characters. After watching the Revolution pilot, I can only say there’s one character I truly care for, and that’s only because I empathise with his woes.

But that said, the pilot of Revolution was pretty solid. There’s a juicy mystery to get our teeth into, great visuals, and hints of a possible romance worthy of bestselling Young Adult novels. I can’t say it was the most thrilling pilot I’ve ever watched, and I’m slightly disappointed given what I’ve seen from Abrams and Kripke otherwise, but it’s definitely a pilot with potential. I’ll be tuning in next week to see how things progress for Charlie and her family. Will you?