From executive producers J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau, Revolution was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi series from 2012 set after the power inexplicably goes out in the world leaving it in a permanent blackout as America's leadership is completely reshuffled and a resistance grows.
Revolution presents a big concept with a lot of potential and the previews for this show looked like a lot of fun. With the involvement of Abrams and the usually reliable Billy Burke, this certainly ticked all right boxes. The Pilot episode, directed by Favreau himself, introduces us to the main characters and this new post-power world rather well as America finds itself divided with the North-Eastern coast being run by intimidating dictator Monroe (David Lyons). When scientist Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee), who was involved in the mess that led to the power being turned off, is killed by the Monroe Republic militia and his son Danny (Graham Rogers) is kidnapped, his headstrong daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) sets off to find her estranged uncle Miles (Billy Burke) to help save Danny from the hands of the sociopathic Monroe. Miles is reluctant to help at first but he is soon onboard and the two of them set off on a long journey to Philadelphia where they believe Danny is being taken.
Other main characters include Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth), an ex-Google executive and Nora Clayton (Daniella Alonso), one of the rebels who eventually helps out Miles. Giancarlo Esposito, mostly known for his chilling turn in Breaking Bad, takes on one of the main villain roles as the militia's Captain Tom Neville. Buying the high concept of a show like this is essential if you're going to sit through a lot of it and, unfortunately, Revolution is never convincing. This is partly due to the surprisingly humourless tone of the show and the ridiculous nature of the whole thing. It's quite obvious, right off the bat, that the power going out would probably not lead to the world turning into a silly Robin Hood-esque type of scenario. And, just when you're almost ready to believe that it makes sense, the show suddenly throws something completely random at you like magic computer chips capable of fixing broken bones. Using the same gimmicks as Lost in that the story often resorts to flashback scenes for character development, Revolution comes off as derivative and not all that original when it could have easily been an intriguing new sci-fi series.
Part of the problem with this show is the plot feels constantly distracted from itself with big setups falling flat like the few times Monroe and Miles finally face-off and pointless filler episodes like the one where everyone starts to hallucinate due to lack of oxygen or the one where they help out a bunch of kids for no reason. Maybe Revolution's vision of the future was never quite fully worked out which might explain why this first Season feels almost written on the fly, episode by episode. The fact that the cast is extremely uneven doesn't help either: Tracy Spiridakos' Charlie is bland, whiny and frankly dislikable, Nora and Aaron are never interesting and Billy Burke looks like he's bored out of his mind. Luckily, both Monroe and Tom Neville are great characters but it's always a bad sign when you're rooting for the villains over the heroes. Still, they're effective enough to hold your interest throughout and Elizabeth Mitchell, who plays Charlie's mother, does a decent job in a badass role.
While hardly the worst thing on television, Revolution is still a disappointment as you'd expect better from all involved. This was a show with a lot of potential but not the sharp, creative writing and strong performances to back it up plus visually it offers nothing new. You might want to skip this one and re-watch Lost instead, or 24 even since most of that show's cast is in Revolution.