Sky 1 29 March at 9pm
Revolution deals with a topic that has previously only been the subject of rhetorical questions like National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers â Am I Nuts or Are You?
The struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment where electricity and the last two hundred years of technological development no longer functions is a fascinating hypothetical. One which leaves enormous scope for narrative development: the return to a hand-to-mouth existence, adaptation to a socially and geographically smaller world, or how previously inalienable rights exist and evolve without a formal legal structure.
But Revolution has none of that. It skips all the necessary and interesting ways that a society would evolve in those first months and years. Instead it focuses on the search for a lost relative fifteen years later. Someone who might (read: in Series 2) have a partial answer to a question posed a decade and a half ago.
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad’s Gus Fring) and Zak Orth occasionally break through the tedium, but it’s never for long enough to engage with the rest of the cast.
Beyond bad acting, Revolution is beset with simple inaccuracies: middled-aged women with perfectly blonde hair from tip to root, vividly coloured and clean white clothing predominates, paths everywhere are neatly cut through shrubbery like a National Trust property, the grossly overweight remain spherical in world where high sugar and high corn products aren’t available and nobody looks even slightly malnourished.
Yet by some distance the most laughable error is one which defines the course of the first episode. Charlie, the insufferable lead actress, befriends a Taylor Lautner imitator called Nate, and despite her companions’ warnings, allows him to accompany them on their journey to find her uncle.
Except it’s soon revealed that Nate is a member of the Militia hunting her uncle and was only using her to track him down. A threat which could’ve been avoided simply by asking Nate to reveal whether or not he has a âMilitiaâ? tattoo on his left wrist. Something every single member of the government forces hunting uncle Miles is obliged to have, even when working undercover.
The greatest risk with taking a court case to the Supreme Court is that if your side loses, it can be decades before the court is willing to revisit the subject. The television and film equivalent is when an initial book-to-screen adaptation goes badly and the writer or topic is written off as âunfilmable.â?
Conversely, if a subject or author proves successful, commercial development can and will continue indefinitely. This is why we have a surplus of vampire fiction, Debra Messing is somehow still getting work and why Stephen King can auction the film rights to his next departure lounge novel before he’s put pen to paper on page one.
Revolution’s concept deserves better than this and it would be a shame if this blundering attempt were to doom a niche which has enormous potential.
JJ Abrams is the biggest name in Hollywood who has done nothing to deserve it. A director that once had the same potential as an early Spielberg now consistently underwhelms like M. Night Shyamalan. He may have once delivered Lost to critical acclaim, but doesn’t appear to have learnt any lessons from the disaster it turned into.
Revolution is a high concept show with low ambition and middling production values; Revolution’s directors Steve Boyum and Charles Beeson have biographies that reflect this. Unsurprisingly, much of their previous work overlaps with JJ Abrams production credits.
Revolution starts exclusively on Sky 1 HD on the 29th March 2013 at 9pm
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