Ever since “Lost” was a hit, network and cable TV has been trying to find the next addictive serial drama. “Flash Forward,” “Alcatraz” and others came and went.
It’s easy to see why. While “Lost” had its problems – weak episodes where the show seemed to tread water early on, promising more than it could deliver in terms of its mythology and the final episode, which still ticks me off a little bit – it’s easy to see why its success has been hard to duplicate.
“Lost” had a fairly miraculous mix of premise, writing and cast – really, can you think of a show that cast even bit players so well? – and moments that lived on in the minds of viewers well past the finale of the show: Last night, a friend of mine saw a photo of my son with something written on his palm and quipped, “Not Penny’s boat!”
“The Walking Dead,” returning in October for a third season, is one of the few genre shows that has captured the imagination of viewers in quite the same way as “Lost.”
So now, from NBC, executive producer J.J. Abrams and “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau comes “Revolution,” which debuts Monday night.
“Revolution’s” pilot, which is available online through Hulu, opens with a frantic conversation between two brothers. One tells the other, cryptically, “It’s about to go out and it’s never coming back.” A moment later, the power goes out. Cars quit running, cell phones stop working, planes fall from the sky. The premise of the show is that electrical energy is sapped from the entire planet.
Fifteen years later, society has long since fallen apart. Governments and corporations have crumbled and dictators, supported by brutal militias, have taken over. Cities have fallen into decay. Neighborhood cul-de-sacs are small farming towns.
Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable company. (Actually, there’s a reference to Google, and I’m looking forward to the episode that shows us how the present-day lords of Silicon Valley have turned into future Roman emperors.)
The mysterious General Monroe has dispatched his enforcer, Captain Neville (the wonderful Giancarlo Esposito), to find Ben and Miles, brothers who apparently hold some kind of key to what made energy disappear and what might bring it back.
Ben gets killed by the militia and his daughter, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), and son, Danny (Graham Rogers) are separated. Charlie sets out for Chicago to find her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke from the “Twilight” movies, bringing some much-needed sarcasm to the show).
Not surprisingly, the ending of the pilot indicates the show’s over-arching mythology will revolve around what caused the blackout and what might reverse it.
I liked a lot of “Revolution” and will probably tune in to the series. But a few things came to mind while watching the pilot:
Many of the buildings in big cities are overgrown with wild vegetation just 15 years after the end of energy. This seems unlikely to me, frankly, unless kudzu pushed pretty far north fairly quickly. I think the makers of “Revolution” were watching “Life After People” on fast forward.
Likewise, “Revolution” shows a rusted-out car body used as a planter. Again, after only 15 years, a car would be totally stripped of paint and covered in rust? There’s a car outside my house that’s been out in the elements, year-round, for longer than that and it doesn’t look like a rust-colored flower pot.
I know Chicago was a big part of the plot and showing an overgrown Wrigley Field was too good to pass up. But it seems ironic that a ballpark that didn’t have electric lights for most of its existence is shown as an example of what happens after the power goes out.
The young leads are cute as can be, in a “Hunger Games” kind of way, but I’ll be waiting for every scene with the wry Burke and the wily Esposito.