Published Sep 03, 2013Reflecting a public mindset resigned to, or hoping for, the inevitable collapse of societal constructs, an increasing number of screen stories (Falling Skies, Stake Land) are embracing the new beginning that must follow the end. Eric Kripke's Revolution is a glaring example of that idea phylum at its most convoluted. Overcomplicating a plot doesn't implicitly damn the impact of a story (just look at Lost), but two-dimensional characters, thematic ambiguity and exasperating leaps in logic certainly do.
Basically, Revolution's central MacGuffin exists to justify a swashbuckling adventure that nostalgically reveres antiquated weaponry and ideals. For reasons unknown (but not for long), the power goes out and doesn't come back on. The specific rules of what and why certain types of equipment work or don't work are extremely vague, but in the supplemental material included, Kripke assures us that the creative team exhausted every angle of research, a difficult-to-evaluate claim that does nothing to make the viewing experience any less frustrating. Anyway, the story picks up 15 years after the big blackout (you bet your ass there are flashbacks) in an America reshaped by civil war. Representatives of the Monroe Republic, the most fearsome military force in the land, raid a small community in search of a scientist thought to have knowledge of how to turn the electricity back on.
When he's killed and his son taken hostage, Charlie Matheson (a perpetually overacting and unconvincing Tracy Spiridakos) sets out to rescue her brother and avenge her father with the aid of her reluctant retired military leader uncle, Miles (Billy Burke, Drive Angry). Initially, Charlie is positioned as the main character, plucky and determined to a fault, always screwing up missions and needing her companions to bail her out. But as the season progresses and she hardens, the focus steadily shifts away from her rash idiocy and Romeo and Juliet-romance with a boy from a rival faction towards the endeavours of Miles and a side plot that's essentially a high-tech version of Frodo's quest to Mordor.
It's made abundantly clear in the special features that Kripke is very aware of what he's borrowing from, and that he has no qualms with such a transparent lack of creativity. "Creating a Revolution" is the de facto "Making Of" and it boils down to about 20 minutes of discussion on the show's art design; that more time is spent on wardrobe than character motivation is quite telling. Sound bites from producers Jon Favreau and J.J. Abrams add no significant insight. The content is so specialized that the average viewer won't likely be too interested, but anyone fascinated with the minutiae of set decoration will be in heaven.
Each disc comes with a few deleted scenes, none of which are compelling in the least. Of slightly more interest are five webisodes that fill in a bit of backstory between adaptable survivor Major Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad) and the mentally unstable General Monroe (David Lyons). Judging by the crowd response during a 30-minute group interview from PaleyFest, Esposito's Breaking Bad fame is at least partially responsible for this awful show being renewed for a second season. It's also revealed in this interview that the creators had a mid-season break to re-evaluate what was working and what wasn't, explaining the shift away from Charlie's character. Also included is a gag reel of the regular sort of chuckles and flubs and an "In-Depth Look at the Pilot" that tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to justify the show's logic and rules. Maybe it'll all make sense eventually, but you'll probably stop caring long before. (Warner)