Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: Revolution

When I first saw the promos for Revolution this summer, I was insanely excited. Why? Because I thought that they had decided to turn S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse series into a television show. I have only read the first two books so far (my mom introduced me to them only recently), and I have found them to be highly engaging. And with the media’s current love affair with apocalypses (apocalypsi?), I thought it was an obvious choice for network television.
Of course, I then went on Stirling’s website to see what he thought of the adaptation. And that was when I found that there was no connection to the book series. It was strange, I thought, that they would make something so similar without any connection to Stirling’s camp.
I decided to wait until the show premiered to make any judgments, though.
The first episode of Revolution aired on Monday night (NBC 10/9c). The episode opened with scenes from the “night the lights went out” and then progressed fifteen years into the future. I found the first scene to be very effective—it really showed the enormity of the situation. I think the planes just dropping out of the skies really did it.
The future, however, was a little strange. I like that they decided to go forward far enough that civilization was starting to come back—it distinguishes this show from other post-apocalyptic shows.
The main character is Charlie (the creators decided to show you she’s sassy by giving her a boy’s name), and she reminds me of another Kripke creation. I’m talking about Jo Harvelle from Supernatural. Apparently, Kripke likes young female characters who can talk the talk, but often need to rely on others to save their butts. Luckily, Charlie runs into the obligatory Mysterious Forest Hunk. Just like Jo, however, Charlie has a sharply intelligent matron at her side—though this is her disliked step-mother Rachel. I found that no matter how much Charlie seems to dislike her, I liked Rachel more than I liked Charlie. I also always enjoy Billy Burke (here as Uncle Miles).
Their group is threatened by the militia, run by the (also obligatory) ruthless individual who seized power after the “apocalypse.” They kill Charlie’s father, and take her brother—which is the catalyst event which sets her on her journey and connects her with her long-lost uncle. They think that Charlie’s dad and her uncle know how to turn the lights back on.
At there end, though, there is some evidence that electrical power is not completely gone—which is something I don’t quite understand. How can only a few people have a power grid that connects them across a country? Of course, there are some other issues that may or may not be answered later on. If you want to enjoy this show, you’ll probably just ignore them. Another issue I have, though, is that individuals don’t have guns because it’s illegal for civilians to own them. Since when does that stop people? Also, can’t we use wind or hydropower?
The rules of Revolution seem to be that the electrical grid is gone (and very difficult to turn back on). The rule of the Emberverse are different—all technology since gunpower is obsolete. It makes things more interesting, but the laws of Revolution are probably easier to get past a mass audience.
I would definitely suggest that you give Revolution a try. The news outlets seem to think that it will be a hit, and I can see why it would be popular. I, however, won’t be watching. It’s mostly due to the scene at the very end of the episode (which I won’t spoil), but also due to the fact that I see it as a poor man’s Emberverse. I would give it a score of 5/10, though that may just be the stereotypical pissy geek. I didn't find most of the characters to be enjoyable or intriguing--Charlie especially turned me off to the series--and I'm not sure if the creators even know what's going on with the power. 
If you don't mind a little fantasy mixed with your sci-fi apocalypse (though that element doesn't present itself until later), I would suggest that you check out the Emberverse series instead. 

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