NBC’s new show “Revolution” is about as new and interesting as its title

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The four very bland leads on NBCs new show, “Revolution.”

There’s a lot of trash on TV right now, but it’s generally very diverse trash. You have the 20 identical cop/courtroom/medical shows spread across the major networks; you have the terrible reality television like “Jersey Shore” or “Toddlers in Tiaras.” Along with those of course, you have the high-concept shows airing on networks who refuse to give them anywhere near the budget they need to be remotely believable, ever since “Lost” became so popular. “Terra Nova,” “V,” “Alcatraz,” and now “Revolution.”

“Revolution” is essentially what would happen if you decided you wanted to serve a really fancy meal at dinner, but didn’t want to spend much money on it or work too hard to make it. Sure, you picked out an interesting dish from your cookbook, but you didn’t let it cook, you bought cheap, expired fruits and vegetables, you didn’t bother asking anyone for help, you just tried to make it look like the pictures you saw online. “Revolution” is a fairly interesting concept executed so poorly and formulaically that it’s actually somewhat shocking, even for a show on NBC.

The show is essentially a mishmash of shows like “Terra Nova” or “FlashForward.” One day, for some reason (a reason that, similar to “Lost,” will unlikely be remotely satisfying), all the electricity goes out in the entire world. For some reason, cars stop working too, as well as just simple batteries. It doesn’t make much sense, but hey! Look! Here’s a CGI image of the entire globe’s lights going out!

We then jump ahead 15 years (with the occasional flashback to the blackout), where society has devolved into a more dangerous, but simpler, place. This would be the point in the review where I’d explain a bit about the overall way the society works…if the show had bothered to fill its audience in on any of that. The world-building here is pretty terrible. For the most part we just see forests or decrepit city streets, and get no real sense of how the society is run now. There’s the offhand mention here and there about warlords, taxes, about guns for some reason being illegal, but for the most part we have no idea what’s going on.

Characters? Ah, who cares. There’s the father whose wife died in the blackout, his kids who, of course, want to be independant and all that stupid stuff we’ve seen a million times. Really, the only bright spot is a warlord/government worker/who even cares played by Giancarlo Esposito (drug lord Gustavo Fring in “Breaking Bad”), a great actor, who manages to do his best with some unavoidably terrible dialogue. He’s the big villain for the show, and is intimidating, entirely due to Esposito’s menacing glares and excessive violence.

Essentially, the show revolves around a group who are running from Esposito. Meanwhile there’s some very boring “mystery” we’re supposed to care about involving the blackout, but it’s about as stock and bland as everything else in the show.

I like to imagine, for a moment, a world where this show is actually good. Imagine if the show decided to chronicle the collapse of the civilization, rather than some boring adventures 15 years later. That would not only be a cheaper show to make, but a far more interesting show as well. Watching a society crumble isn’t something we get to see everyday, especially not on a television show.

“Revolution” had serious potential. The first episode was even directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), but the writing was so poor, and the budget so clearly strained that it was impossible to be convinced or affected by a single thing happening on screen. I struggled to even find a bright spot; I can’t even call Esposito one, because everything he does just makes me wish he was on a remotely adequate show. Don’t watch “Revolution” on September 17. With luck it’ll be cancelled soon just like “Terra Nova” and “V” were.

 

1.5/5 Stars

 

“Revolution” premieres Monday, September 17, on NBC at 10 pm. Or maybe it’s a different day, and I’m just lying so you don’t have to go through the pain of watching it.