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Revolutionary…or just a shot in the dark?

A post-apocalyptic world, re-establishing itself in the aftermath of a global electricity blackout, forms the premise of new sci-fi drama Revolution. An interesting idea; current societal interest in new forms of energy, as a result of the persistent exhaustion of our natural resources, is high, the onset of global warming is also of prevalent concern at the moment, both of which lend themselves well to new dystopian, post-apocalyptic imaginings.

The first episode, however, leaves me wondering if that’s as far as it goes… an interesting idea that’s not too far outside the scope of the audience’s imagination, but no solid foundation.

Fifteen years after the lights went out, civilisation has seemingly reverted back to the 1500s; archers and bandits prevail, and careers are limited to farmers and cross-bow manufacturers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but prior to electricity we were not entirely without any form of power. The industrial revolution was powered by steam, and what about solar, and wind power? Would America really have taken such a large step backwards when forced off the grid? But perhaps that will all be explained…

Judging by the show’s credits however, explanations may be slow in forthcoming. Revolution was created by Erik Kripke – of Supernatural, and produced by J.J Abhrams, known elsewhere in the sci-fi realm for shows such as Fringe, Star Trek, and of course… Lost. This, I believe, is the dark cloud hanging over his new TV venture; Lost was a very good TV show, for the most part, however it’s safe to say the writers relied way too heavily on the use of mythology to explain away the show’s constant enigmas. We have already been introduced to a fancy sub-talisman possessed by some of Revolution’s new characters which enable the users to log back onto the grid – thereby accessing electricity for a short time. Simultaneously Lost-style bells were rung, and expectations of credible, sensible explanations were lowered. It is only the first episode however, and the shows’ writers have another 20 episodes to produce answers to our questions…

The show’s cast thus far consists of Charlie, a cross-bow wielding heroine who longs to explore the world beyond her village; Charlie’s family, including an estranged uncle who is implicated at the start of the show as a major player, and a couple of other villagers and militia – including one Captain Tom Neville, played by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito. So far we’re not particularly drawn in by any of them; we have the Katniss-esque heroine that seems to be so popular recently, her Hans-Solo, somewhat dejected, unlikely hero of an Uncle, and the typical comedic insert that is Aaron, a former successful Google employee, now rendered almost useless – all of which sound, well, typical for a show like this, but not exactly revolutionary.

Despite all of the above, the show is actually very entertaining, and I cannot in any way imply that I was not completely taken in by the inevitable cliff-hanger at the end of the first episode. The fact remains, however, that Revolution does appear to be fairly one dimensional, and my desire to watch the next episode stems mainly from intrigue, rather than interest, and of course the hope that beneath the fascinating concept, there is a solid, intelligible foundation. The concern, as with all such TV shows, is that any attempt to sufficiently explain the occurrences in Revolution will inevitably resort to Lost-style mythology, which, like as you might, is a bit of a cop out for a show that markets itself as sci-fi.

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