November 9, 2012 by Tim

Seven episodes in, and I still can’t decide if I really like Revolution or not. There have been weeks that I’ve thought “Yep, I’m on board with this now”, and other weeks where it’s more sort of “Meh.”

When the series was first announced, and the trailer hit, I had a bit of a problem with the presentation. I felt that everyone looked too clean, well-dressed and well-groomed for a society living fifteen years after the loss of all electricity.

The clothes looked too fresh off the rack at the local Gap. Sure, you can wash your clothes. Sure, would have been a ton of brand new clothes sitting around in stores and warehouses when the power went out, waiting to be looted. In the immediate aftermath, food and water would be the priority for looters… but a year or two in, people would be looting everything. After fifteen years, I would imagine fifteen years after the fact, there would be very few new clothes sitting around.

Over time the clothes you had, even if they remained in good shape, would get faded. Stained perhaps. Maybe you’d have to patch them together.

They could make new clothes… after all, people made their own clothes for ages… but handspun cloths and garments look different than the materials produced with synthetic fibers and sewing machines. They look rougher.

Soap would run out even sooner. Soap is not particularly easy to make once you’re faced with gathering the lye and animal fat yourself, and so it would become rarer, more valuable. You likely wouldn’t bath every day if soap was harder to come by then walking down to the store and buying it.

So overall, after fifteen years of living in a way that frankly none of us would be accustomed to living these days, I wouldn’t expect a cast of characters that look like they walked out of a clothing catalogue. And that sort of hindered my suspension of disbelief for the entire premise.

Now, the show has done well, in some areas. Some of the costumes do look like you would expect them to. Furthermore, the show has done a really good job of establishing certain boundaries of the post-apocalyptic situation they’re in… mentioning how rare and precious bullets are, for instance. The overall de-evolution of society into small villages and republics, the fading away of certain laws, and the advent of new ones.

Despite the immediate questionable appearance of some of the main cast, and the struggle to pretend that they didn’t just walk out of a hair and makeup trailer, the show has been doing pretty well to establish its mythos in a way that pulls you in and keeps you watching.

The plot starts simple, but very quickly starts dropping in very Abrams-esque twists and conspiracies. It even takes a page from Lost’s book by regularly flashing back to show you the characters before the plane crash, err, I mean blackout. These flashbacks not only tell you a bit about what they were like pre-collapse of civilization, but of course also unravel threads related to the overall “dun dun dunnnnn” mystery taking place regarding why the power turned off.

The cast is a bit of a mixed bag. I was incredibly irritated by the girl playing Charlie for the first few episodes, but find myself warming up to her as she becomes a bit less of a whiny brat and starts to accept the consequences of the adventure she so stubbornly set herself on.

I like Billy Burke as Miles, and Giancarlo Esposito as Tom Neville would be enough for me to watch the show in and of itself. After his performance in Breaking Bad, I really hoped he would land another television role somewhere, and this one is pretty good so far.

The show falters for me a little bit in some episodes, mostly because I worry that this season is going to be entirely comprised of episodes where the core group has to stop and help out whatever small band of people they come across, on their way to accomplish their main objective. The last few episodes have been this way, where they’re trying to focus on what they set out to do, but “oh no, these people need help. Better totally drop what we’re doing and get involved.”

That’s fine for adventure, but the real test will be the show’s willingness to kill off “main” characters. If they’re going to continue putting themselves in dangerous situations for the random strangers they just met, eventually it’s got to backfire. They can’t continue to be the A-Team getting out of everything scott-free, or it’s going to get tired quickly. They’ve already killed one person that was set as sort of part of the main crew, but it was early on in the series. It’s harder to kill a character that you’ve let the audience get attached to, but it keeps the world they’re living in alive and dangerous with real consequences. And since the world is populated (ie, they aren’t isolated like, say, the cast of Lost), there are always new characters they can bring in to the main group, to keep it interesting.

Revolution has been picked up for a full 22 episode season, and it’s only on number seven at the moment, so there’s a good bit left to go. I’m still interested in watching it, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction, that any problems I might have with the show are outweighed by the entertainment I find there.

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