Crashing Pilots: Revolution

By David Mumpower

October 10, 2012

At least two of the people in this picture are already dead. Maybe three.

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If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This was an axiom we all learned as children that we immediately disregarded the instant we gained unsupervised internet access. As a rule, I try to avoid what The Newsroom recently defined as takedown pieces because I find them petty and, even worse, a lazy style of writing. I even gave Uwe Boll a third chance before eventually naming him the mortal enemy of BOP. This philosophy of stubborn optimism occasionally creates problems, with the most recent example being Revolution.

Theoretically, Revolution is a project I should enjoy. Series creator Eric Kripke displayed an inimitable level of creativity on the perennially underrated Supernatural, among the cleverest programs in the history of television. Kripke possesses the rare ability to cultivate abstract ideas from overly saturated subjects. He can mine gothic concepts such as werewolves and vampires into fresh interpretations that are sprinkled with a heady mix of horror and humor. Eric Kripke is a genius.

Readers of the site are aware of my innumerable objections to Lost, a wildly overhyped, ineffective attempt to combine methodical character development and frequent Huge. Shocking! TWISTS!!! This proved to be the worst marriage since Ike and Tina. I was wryly amused when the most ardent supporters of Lost decried the lack of closure during the final season/episode. J.J. Abrams and his team had long ago punted any intention of matching the storytelling achievements of more impacting serial dramas such as The Wire.

Whereas the David Simon series meticulously explained each and every loose thread from the entire run of The Wire, Lost fans still wander around mumbling conspiracy theories about The Others, the Smoke Monster, and the Four-Toed Statue. Lost is the hallmark example of shortcut television. Triggering viewer conversation was always more important than connecting the threads of a tapestry. The creative team behind Lost celebrated post-episode conversation more than cohesive story structure. This is their right just as I as a viewer quit watching the show a couple of times. I eventually watched every episode. I regret that.




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In spite of my feelings about Lost, I still have a deep appreciation for the natural talents of J.J. Abrams. I have long maintained that Mission: Impossible 3 is one of the best action movies of this era while Star Trek is proof that even the most accredited franchises can and should be rebooted if the idea is strong enough to justify the concept. J.J. Abrams appreciates the importance of spectacle as much as anyone in the industry today.

The combination of Abrams and Kripke with some added assistance from Jon Favreau should guarantee the quality of a new television pilot. I would not have believed Revolution possible of failure before I watched any footage from it. With this much talent, the only other requisite for a quality program would be a solid premise. The premise for Revolution is clever.

A dystopian future exists when the laws of physics are thrown out the window by an as yet unexplained cataclysmic event that negated the power of electricity. As the son of an electrician, this premise bothers me on a fundamental level. Still, as a lover of quality science fiction, I recognize the storytelling opportunities presented by shaking an Etch a Sketch and thereby discarding all the known sciences.


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