Revolution “Pilot” Review

Logo for NBC's Revolution

Several months ago it was announced that Eric Kripke, one of the creators of Supernatural, and J.J. Abrams, master of the lens flare, were teaming up to create a television show set in a post apocalyptic world where electricity ceased to work. Oh, and Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man 1 and 2 was directing the pilot. After changing my pants, I set about trying to find a way to distract myself until the creative tour-de-force delivered the pilot. I must wait no longer, but can Revolution meet my expectations from this creative team?

Revolution hits the ground running, only pausing briefly over the 45 minute run time to add a few little human moments. Within the first five minutes we’re introduced to the main character, Charlie, as a child, her father, Ben, and uncle, Miles, the power goes out and there is a 15 year time jump. We are then quickly introduced to characters that are plot important before the militia shows up, kills Ben and kidnaps Ben’s son Danny, leaving the now teenage Charlie to take over as our main character.

 

NBC's Revolution Nate holding a bow and arrow
Is Nate a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Does he look like Jacob from Twilight?

After assembling a ragtag group of individuals, Charlie sets out for Chicago to accomplish Ben’s dying wish for her to find Miles. Whether it’s introducing Nate as a pseudo enemy and love interest or watching Danny try to escape the team of militia headed by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, it felt as if there was a two hour pilot crammed into a single hour. I’m all for not stretching out storylines more than they need to be, but this isn’t some light romantic comedy or sitcom, in a post-apocalyptic world, I need to know why I should be rooting for certain characters. If I don’t care about the characters, I won’t care if they succeed or fail.

Jon Favreau certainly showed his experience from the Iron Man movies in the action scenes and while the final fight of the episode did carry some of that Hollywood uber-choreographed magic, every other fight had a brutal realism that would be at home in a Bourne movie. The action seems to be the focus of this episode and it certainly is the best element. While I usually wouldn’t mind, I wanted a bit more setup for the rest of the season. Especially with the final shot revealing that some people still have electricity. Such a revelation seems like a mid season or end of season twist reveal. It makes this episode feel more like a movie adaptation of a book, rushing through necessary plot points without giving them room to breathe.

NBC's Revolution's Danny in a bed
Danny held at gunpoint by Asthma

Revolution is a fascinating concept. It’s nice to have a post-apocalyptic world that doesn’t involve bombed out, desert-like wastelands. The breakneck pace that the pilot forces the plot along seems unecessary and worries me. We go from the end of electricity, to fifteen years later with a death and a journey to find guidance, to yet another journey, to finding out that the electricity isn’t actually gone, all in 45 minutes. There is very little setup and only hints of character development. Sure, I love flashy action scenes as much as the next viewer, but the pilot seemed to focus more on that than introducing the world. I’m still interested, but Revolution has a lot to prove.