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Revolution — A modest assessment, by Bunky Bunk (The Unrated, Unfiltered Edition)

Firstly, I'm sorry, I meant to include my review in this thread, then my message became overly long so I thought I'd update this post, but that thread would have been way too long afterwards so instead I'm creating this thread. Whether you agree or disagree, if you read my review (and perhaps leave a comment afterwards), that'd be very kind of you.

Revolution (NBC) : 4.14/10.

So this is it, the new "high-concept" (as opposed to "old / lazy ideas") serialized drama of this fall, backed with big Internet buzz and Lost connections. It has become a habit. Back in 2009, I liked, hell I loved, the pilot of FlashForward, I thought it was amazing and showed an incredible potential for a series. Turns out, I quickly started to hate the show because of many things (Joseph Fiennes' diarrhea face is at the top of the list) and the way it was obvious the writers thought viewers were brain damaged (or that they were occasional viewers, in which case we wouldn't want them to be confused, would we?). Back in 2010, I loved the pilot of The Event… and I'm going against the majority because I liked the whole series. Yes, it was sometimes stupid and the acting wasn't always top notch, but the story was going somewhere, it kept me interested, it was filled with twists and turns and it was entertaining, something Revolution's pilot is far from being. Back in 2011, I disliked the pilot of OUAT, I gave it 4 episodes and then I stopped (I'm sorry, I'm not that old but this is a show made for kids or teenage girls). I'd give an average of 3.5/10 to FlashForward, an average of 6.5/10 to The Event and an average of 3.5/10 to OUAT's first 4 episodes - yes, I guess I become less tolerant as time goes by, 2 years ago I might have watched all of OUAT like I did with FlashForward, which to be fair had a concrete objective in sight (arriving to the famous day seen in the flashforwards).

Anyway, I'm giving 4/10 to Revolution's pilot. This is not smart TV. The acting was bad, the special effects should have been better (especially for a pilot, usually more expensive than the rest), the action scenes were bad, the story was predictable and so not taking advantage of the potential of the premise (reminiscent of the work of René Barjavel, especially his 1943 sci-fi novel Ravage). It had no style, no personality. Just because it is sci-fi shouldn't mean we have to jump all over it. When it's done in the cheesiest, cheapest, crappiest way, it's best to watch a movie.

I'm already craving for lines like "you're not my mother !" during their numerous arguments.

Who said a 44-minute pilot had to set up the entire series ? How about the first 6-7 episodes delve into what immediately followed the blackout, the direct repercussions and people's first reactions in a power-less world (I thought that'd be more interesting than anything else), and then we see them trying to rebuild a society, instead of having that society already in place 7 minutes into episode 1.01. Or they could have introduced flashbacks (3-4 per episode), showing the lives of the people right before & right after the event (not sure that it's sending positive signals to NBC to refer to the blackout as The Event :D). But by giving the lead role to a teenager and setting the show 15 years into the future with no trace of flashback in the pilot (other than the one used to brilliantly introduce Monroe), they clearly didn't consider that option, which would have allowed the story to breathe a little more, instead of having to fill time starting at episode 1.02 (yes, I bet 50% of the upcoming episodes will have terrible B-storylines to fill time). And, oh right, allowing time isn't an option on network TV.

I'm not totally convinced by the way they exploited the premise so far. Steam engines should still exist, guns should still exist, so why are they living like a tribe in the middle of the woods with bows and stuff ? Like they're on an island far from everything, actually. And because we don't have electricity doesn't mean cities have to be filled with vegetation in 15 years (scissors and good will, anyone ?). I understand why people would leave the cities (with no electricity, thugs could get away with robbing homes) but why does it feel like many people have died in 15 years ? If not (I don't see any reason why), where did they go ? It's not like there are that many woods or unoccupied farms.

From now on, I'm going to refer to them as Annoying teenager #1 and Annoying teenager #2.

There was one action sequence I thought was well executed, that's when Gus Fring killed 3-4 guys, the camera moved smoothly between his victims falling down. Or maybe it's just because Giancarlo Esposito is such a badass, he'd make anything look great, but anyway, I thought that was pretty cool. Otherwise, Jon Favreau's directing is quite generic. I liked that Esposito's character isn't a complete villain, his brief conversations with Annoying teenager #1 (who just had to reply something bitchy) and the woman hiding Annoying teenager #1 (explaining what was his job before the Event, thus humanizing him, was a great idea) were nice additions to otherwise completely bland dialogues ("Because we're family !", oh please…) and bad character introductions. I'm not pissed about the lack of development yet, it's just a pilot, but I can say that after 44 minutes I don't give a rat's ass about any of the characters… I guess I'm rooting for Esposito's character.

Now, about Annoying teenager #2, he acts like a pancake, and his character is beyond laughable : he's a bad buy, but a tormented one who saves our hero because… he found Love. How tormented, how cute, how unpredictable it promises to be : I am totally shipping them ♥♥♥ ! No seriously, I'm a little disappointed : no love triangle in sight, that is sloppy work. Too bad Annoying teenager #1 is Charlie's brother, that's such a waste of a possible love triangle… well, there's still a possibility for a love triangle that is not incest (not that it wouldn't be entertaining, it totally would be), but NBC have got themselves covered from the associations with another new show (and a lame one, based on the first 10 minutes of the pilot).

AC/DC T-shirt, beard & glasses (nerd ? Yes, he worked at Google), not shaped like a stud : the comic relief guy ! Thank goodness, the overly dark tone of the show was bumming me and thus turned me off buying the excellent products advertised in the commercials.

The lead actress is pretty, but I can't say that I thought she was great in that role (like when the dad died, I felt she wasn't convincing - btw, don't you think Tim Guinee looks like Nathan Fillion ?). She wasn't helped by the writing for sure. Her uncle might be an "anti-hero" but it doesn't stop him from being is a walking cliché : the reluctant guy who drinks whisky (because he's dark/complex) who runs a bar (because, you know, he's a quiet man who wants no trouble), who doesn't want to help (because he's an anti-hero) but who eventually does after decimating 15 guys (there's hero in anti-hero). The choreography/editing of that fight was pretty lame. Oh, and they used long dissolves twice - I don't remember when, but one of them was Charlie talking => dissolve (for way too long) => Charlie walking. That's plain amateurism, it didn't look good at all, it felt like unfinished work.

Btw, at the 33rd minute, when Charlie begs his uncle to go somewhere else and he gently tells her to "go" twice, I told myself "if he yells at them 'GOOOOO!!!!!' after she begs him to go for a third time, this is officially a bad pilot" (yep, I try to maintain myself entertained any way I can). And while Charlie didn't ask a third time (she just stood there), Miles did exactly that.

Drinking whisky in a dark environment ? Oh, you must be the reluctant anti-hero (who has a good heart deep down) / complex character with a troubled past.

About that fight, I love how when they come to get Miles on the stairs, the guy in charge sends 3 guys with swords to take him, Miles takes them out, so the guy tells the other guys with guns to shoot him. Yes, in that order, that makes sense, you want to have 3 of your guys killed before using a weapon you know your opponent can't face. Oh, and I don't get why Miles would put his sword right next to your crotch : I'm no knight, but if I were I would put my sword on either one of my hips. Plus, it must be tricky to sit down with a sword going down your inner thigh.

I was talking about the two cheesy, overly long dissolves earlier, or the mess that was the choreography of some sequences, but those weren't the only editing problems. The slow-motion after Monroe showed his tattoo in the flashback and the slow-mo literally a minute later when Monroe is pouring himself a drink in his tent were nothing but pure cheesiness, it felt like someone was screaming to me "hey, dummy, this is the big bad guy now, you got that, right? Right?".

There are things I liked, though : Giancarlo Esposito, the environment (open spaces all around), the ice-cream scene (btw, when Young Charlie was watching the cartoons early in the pilot, I immediately thought of FlashForward, anyone else did ?), Charlie looking at photos of enlightened buildings or cities, and the possibly intriguing mystery unveiled at the last minute. This was quite reminiscent of Fringe S2/S3 or Lost S2. And Revolution clearly wants to be compared with those two shows, so I'll do it : Lost's pilot was brilliant and Fringe's pilot was good whereas while Revolution's pilot is bad and doesn't show many signs of hope for the future.

FACT : When you try to please everyone (kids, moms, Twilight fans, Hunger Games fans, NBC execs, advertisers, etc), you please them all alright, but only in a very small capacity. Whereas if you have balls, take risks and try things, you might displease some people, but the people you please will be very satisfied. That is not the case here, and obviously no network would ever work to achieve that divisive result (or purposely anyway, e.g : Community). It was a predictable, clichés-ridden pilot. On top of being bad at least it's not a procedural in disguise (Alcatraz…), I guess that's something.

I'll be watching the next episodes hoping it becomes much better, because I want to believe they will use all the potential lying there in the premise of the show (and I hope for recurring flashbacks showing us the repercussions of the blackout minutes/days/weeks after it happened). Because so far, this show doesn't revolutionize TV in any way, if I may say so.

1/ Go On (NBC) : 6.16/10.
2/ Revolution (NBC) : 4.14/10.
3/ Animal Practice (NBC) : 3.03/10.

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