Oh, how I miss the heady days of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was a vital program that transcended the genre and brought intelligence, action, social discourse, and wonderful acting to my TV every week. Unfortunately, when it comes to science fiction, not much else has been worth my time in the past 25 years. It takes shows like The Sopranos and Sherlock to hold my attention these days. However, I have to admit that I am a tough viewer to please.
I freely admit that I am not much for television. First off, I hate commercials and, secondly, I prefer to use my time for other pursuits (like writing this blog). But most importantly, I just don’t think most TV is that good anymore. So mush is formulaic and predictable. Don’t even get me started on so-called ‘reality’ shows. When it comes to genre television, most has left me bummed out.
Lost and Battlestar Galactica were intriguing programs that ended with lame, cop-out finales. Heroes started very strong, but then it descended into sensationalism, chaos, and a shocking and ridiculous amount of gore for a mainstream network program.
I often say that all of the aforementioned shows suffered under the weight of their own convoluted mythologies. It was as if the writers kept sitting in the story den asking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” without considering the impact of individual events points on the ultimate arc of the series.
As for nonsense like Flash Forward or The Event, they were really only about the hype. There was simply no ‘there’ there in either premise — which is exactly why both failed after one season. I feel that the best sci-fi shows of the past decade are Fringe (which remains pretty shaky after very strong two and half initial seasons) and the beloved Firefly — which I personally consider to be one of the best shows of all time.
So, here we are in 2012 and a new Fall season has begun. I decided to check out a few of the new shows that dealt with futuristic concepts — in particular, Last Resort and Revolution. The latter has held my attention fairly well. Revolution, while created by Eric Kripke, is yet another genre product from Hollywood wunderkind J.J. Abrams. With the help of Iron Man director/producer Jon Favreau, he seems to have brought to life a fairly convincing sci-fi world.
The premise basically has the entire world losing power for no apparent reason, plunging everything into chaos, and back into the pre-electric Dark Ages. À la Lost and Flash Forward, a mystery abounds.
There’s a small group of people who know why the power failed, and perhaps how to turn it back on. The United States has splintered into new territories — most of which are controlled by harsh, totalitarian militias. Small bands of freedom fighters unite in secret to rebuild our country from the ground up.
It’s a violent and desperate world where people struggle to survive whle retaining the memory of what the world used to be. Not bad stuff. It kind of reminds me of Jericho — a CBS show from a few years back that showed a ton of promise, but never was able to find its footing.
So, does Revolution have what it takes to stay on the air? Maybe. There’s decent acting and good character development, albeit mostly via Lost-style flashbacks. The sets and locations are convincing and the program has solid production values. I’ve found myself wanting to know what will happen next. I think the show’s longevity will be based on enhancing the show’s Good Parts and diminishing its Bad Parts.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen Revolution yet.
Regardless, I will continue to give Revolution a chance. It may eventually tread into the wonderful ground of shows like the original Star Trek — where the story serves as an allegory for our time, and allows us to explore some very difficult questions. I’ll be watching to see it if is so.
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