There have been a lot of shows in the wake of Lost that offer interesting scenarios but, for various reasons, don’t succeed despite their seeming similarity to the Lost scenario. Revolution has an intriguing pilot, but it already contains ominous seeds of its potential demise. What would we do if all the power went out? (And by “all”, they mean “all”.) It’s not quite Earth Abides … most people do survive the power outage. It is more like Hunger Games, which isn’t a bad move if you are trying to anticipate what today’s audiences want. Revolution has an open-ended central plot designed to keep our attention for multiple seasons, mystery, elements of fantasy … it even has Giancarlo Esposito, which is a plus.
The show Revolution reminds me of more than any, though, is Terra Nova. Revolution has the backing of producer J.J. Abrams, and Jon Favreau directs the pilot; Terra Nova had an intriguing premise, an open-ended central plot, elements of fantasy, and Steven Spielberg behind the scenes. Where Terra Nova failed, though, was in its characters, more specifically, its young characters. I like series that focus on teenage heroes and heroines; I taught a course on Buffy, after all. What I don’t like is lame characters that are all stereotype and no humanity, played by actors who can’t rise above the inanities they are required to perform.
Well, Revolution is headed in that direction. The main character is a teenaged girl/woman that I can not imagine spending entire seasons with, one of the core concepts in making a series that lasts. Giancarlo Esposito can’t carry the show all by himself, especially since he’s not the main character.
It’s not impossible to create a series with a strong, young lead character. Buffy led the way, and many of the best (and worst) subsequent attempts feature female leads. Some succeeded better than others (I liked Dollhouse’s second season, and while Lost Girl is ultimately not my kind of show, I did stick with it for a season-and-a-half because of the strong lead played by Anna Silk … not to mention True Blood, which is insane and cheesy, but it’s better than Terra Nova). Too often, though, I lose interest sooner rather than later. (I’m not sure it fits in with these kinds of shows, but the Bionic Woman remake was off in such a clear way that it’s hard to believe they didn’t see how to fix things: they cast Katee Sackhoff as a semi-regular whose character was far more interesting than the titular one, not to mention Sackhoff’s acting was beyond anything else on the show.)
So I’m giving Revolution more than one episode to prove itself. I gave Terra Nova more than one, that’s the least I can do for this new one. But I’m not optimistic. Grade for pilot: B.