I’ve got a thing for the epic NBC dramas. I watched all of Heroes, even after the show completely fell apart and everyone else abandoned ship. And I watched all of Kings, a show that might have succeeded if it weren’t for the writer’s strike. So when the ads started popping up for Revolution, I naturally got excited, thinking I might get something as epic as the first season of Heroes (say what you will about the rest of the show, season 1 was amazing). So when that first monday night rolled around I excitedly plopped down in front of the tv and started to watch… and it didn’t stick. But I didn’t give up, I figured I’d give it the old “three strikes” try and watch a couple more episodes to get a feel for it before I cast it aside. But episode three went by, and I still wasn’t hooked, but the preview for next week looked promising, so I changed sports to football and decided I’ll give the show four downs instead of three strikes. After last night’s fourth episode however, I just can’t do this anymore. There’s nothing compelling me to watch the show any further, also I can’t think of another sports analogy that would give the show more than four chances.
Cliche after cliche after cliche
Maybe AMC and HBO have spoiled me as far as what I can expect from a drama series, but the cliched feel to Revolution is what’s most disappointing to me. There are too many to count, so let’s just look at some of the big ones from the last few weeks.
Combine Romeo and Juliet with a non-vampire non-werewolf version of Twilight and you basically have the generic developing relationship Revolution between Charlie and Nate, or not Nate, who the fuck knows or cares. Two people have learn to have feelings for each other though they should be each other’s natural enemies, and the woman finds herself conflicted as the two male characters she cares about keep wanting to kill each other. I’ve always complained that Romeo and Juliet really doesn’t make sense as a love story as the two characters were 13 and 12 and only knew each other for three days, yet that’s still more believable than the nonsense going on here. She meets the good looking guy who has somehow maintained a perfectly quaffed head of hair (more on that later), he pretends to like her to get close to her uncle, betrays her, rats her friends and family out to the militia who want to kill and capture them, and yet they still care about each other. Obviously I don’t even have to watch another episode to know what happens from here. The guy cares for her, she’ll learn to care for him, his relationship with the militia will make him conflicted during different points on the show and he’ll have to make the decision of whether he’s more loyal to her or the militia. He’ll slip up a couple times early on, but eventually he’ll choose her. “What a great twist!” will say no one ever.
The rogue was once the villain
Everything, well close to everything about uncle Miles is something that could come out of a book entitled “Loner with Redemption Arc and a Heart of Gold for Dummies”. He’s gone through every cliched twist you’d expect his character to go through so far. First it’s “I don’t know your uncle, I’m just an ignorant barkeep who minds my own business,” which very quickly changed to “Just kidding, I’m your uncle and I’ll naturally trust you because you claim to be my niece, and I’ll reluctantly join your scooby gang even though I know it’ll make everything worse for both of us.” That makes him quickly devolve from mysteriously good fighter and cold-blooded killer to “I’ll reluctantly accept Charlie as my external compass even though I know much more about the world than her, and her decisions will inevitably come back to hurt us in the end. So even though I know I should kill this guy so he doesn’t come back for us, I’m going to listen to a teenage girl who has no worldly or military experience.” Next we get, “I’m actually mostly responsible for everything that’s happening, but I refuse to talk about it, because god forbid something in my past might reveal something helpful to everyone.” And finally, this last episode gave us “I’m the one who secretly took your mom from you, but only the audience will know until there’s a big reveal, followed by an argument in which I’ll rationalize the decision as a hard, yet correct decision that you’ll eventually agree with (these are actually the next two cliches).” Take every rogue, loner, or vigilante out of pop culture, pull out their most generic traits, and you have something closely resembling Miles.
Surprise! Mom’s not dead, she just abandoned you
I’ll make this one quick, because this was such an expected twist that it doesn’t deserve much comment. Episode 1, mother is dead, father is killed, brother is taken, uncle is found, and they’re chasing after the brother. Episode 2, mom is mysteriously alive, and she’s with the main villain dun dun dun. Oh but wait, she’s not with him voluntarily, so that’s okay. Episode 4, MILES IS THE ONE WHO TOOK HER OMG NO WAY I WONDER WHY HE DID IT! Oh right, because he used to be in charge of the fucking militia, and is obviously partially responsible for most of their actions up until his departure. I mean come on, even if they didn’t show Miles in that last scene taking the mother, we already know that he was second in command of the Monroe Militia, he’s obviously responsible whether or not they show him do his dramatically revealing turn to face her/the camera. Or that Danny saved Captain Neville from being crushed. It would’ve been so much better if the captain said “what would your father do, your father wouldn’t leave me here to die.” and Danny would respond, “He wouldn’t, but I’m not my father,” and just left him there. But no, we have to go with whatever’s most obvious.
Convenient Flash Backs
We remember this from Lost all too well. Current events reach a dramatic point, and right before the climax, boom, flash back to something that is somehow relevant and might conveniently fill what otherwise would be a plot hole. Again, it’s not even worth talking about, it’s just bad direction. In episode 3, Miles knows the militia commander coming after them, so let’s flashback and explain that he’s one of the founders of the militia. Miles knows Monroe, so let’s flash back and have Monroe reveal himself as the car passenger by showing the “M” mark on his forearm.
There are so many more cliches but you guys get the picture. There’s the asthma that only conveniently kicks up when the brother needs to be hindered in some way. There’s the Heroes-style secret villain lurking in the background (Sylar) who knows more than the other characters and will make a dramatic entrance at one point forcing the scooby gang to join up with the militia in order to stop the secret villain. Anyway, I’m done with cliches, let’s move on.
The writing ranges from average to truly horrible on the show. The dialogue is never great, and the cast isn’t strong enough to carry the dialogue the way it is. Even when you expect good acting, it just doesn’t come through, which we see most clearly in the interactions between Rachel and Sebastian. We know Elizabeth MItchell from Lost so we hope to expect some level of acting ability from her, but her talents aren’t enough to redeem the poor writing. Perfect example is in episode 2, when we see her for the first time at the end. The door to Rachel’s room opens, clearly on its own as Sebastian’s arms are behind his back. Sebastian comes in and says “Rachel, they treating you well? I told them anything you want. Wine? Ice?” They start off coyly (I’m using the term loosely) acting like she’s a guest who he hasn’t seen in a long time, but no she’s his prisoner. From episode 4 we know she’s been his prisoner for a good majority of the time since the power went out, Sebastian obviously visits her on a regular basis to try to get the information he needs out of her. So to have that silly banter in the beginning is just ridiculous, realistically serving no other purpose than to try to confuse the audience one last time before we know whether she’s there volitionally or not. We see bad writing like this again in the latest episode in the scene between them. This time he manages to open the door by himself. She asks him what he wants. He says, “Rachel as if you don’t know, as if you haven’t known what I’ve always wanted.” She responds, “We really have to play this game?” Her response really doesn’t make any sense, it’s not a game, it’s a point of fact, he’s saying he’s there because he wants the same thing he always wants when he comes over: the information. Having her reply with “We really have to play this game?” is the writer’s attempt at what I guess passes for wit on this show. We then have what looks like a torture expert come in and apologize in advance as he pulls out his various torture tools, yet she doesn’t have a single mark on her face the next time we see her.
Or we can look at the the writing in the captured Charlie scene, I’m picking on episode 4 because it’s freshest in my mind, but it’s the same in all the episodes so far.
So, Charlie and her rough riders killed one of this guy’s dogs. So he hunts them down, traps them in a diner, sneaks into the diner, pulls her out of the diner, with no one remaining in the diner being able to follow a guy who’s carrying someone, and evading Miles both coming in and going out. So Charlie is tied to a chair, with a crossbow aimed at her head and tied to the door, set to go off if the door opens, and the guy claims he’s doing all this because they would kill him first if they had the chance. There’s absolutely nothing about the scenario that makes any sense. First, they have no idea where he lives, if he’s afraid they’re going to kill him, why would a preeminent strike make more sense than just staying indoor until they pass. Second, the crossbow scenario doesn’t make sense. Is the crossbow there to kill her as vengeance in case they kill him first? Is it there as a warning for no one to enter? If the former, then the crossbow should be aimed at her chest, bending her head to the side would have probably done just as easy a job of saving her than ripping the chair off the bolts enough to move to the side. If it’s to preempt her friends from coming in as a warning, then how the fuck would they know not to come in. There are numerous instances like this that make no logical sense or are just surrounded by poor writing, I won’t burden you with the rest of them.
There are a bunch of other little tid bit issues I have with the show. Like, if we’re in a post-apocalyptic world, how does everyone have the time and products necessary to be so perfectly made up and have such perfect hair. Charlie and her crew have been trekking through the wilderness for days, yet the women still have perfect hair and make up, clothes are still clean; they want us to accept the reality of this world, but the characters don’t adhere to the rules of that reality, it’s ridiculous. There’s some pretty bad casting going on. With the exception of Giancarlo Esposito, none of the main cast can really carry this show, and Esposito can’t do it on his own, the show is just too bad for that to happen.
Point being, I gave this show more than a fair shot, and it flat out fails. The show does nothing but leave me saddened that I’ve wasted 4 hours of my life watching it, but better to have learned late than never. If you were wondering whether to watch, then just move along, there’s nothing to see here.