This Is Not a Review: NBC's Pilot Revolution

We're not allowed to properly review the advanced copies of pilots that networks send us, but we ARE allowed to chit-chat about them and give you an idea of what to expect. Most of these pilots will undergo some form of change by the time they hit the air, so consider this a general guide to the feel of the show.



Revolution (Mondays on NBC, starting September 17 at 10pm)

STARRING: Billy Burke (Twilight), Tracy Spiridakos (Being Human), David Lyons (The Cape, he was THE Cape!), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Once Upon a Time), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), and J.D. Pardo (Drive).

THE GIST: First, you need to know this: Revolution was created by Eric Kripke, who also created Supernatural. Also, it's being produced by J.J. Abrams. And finally, Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau directed the pilot (but he'll always be Mikey from Swingers to me). Okay, now about the show! Revolution takes place near Chicago, 15 years after a global event knocks out all forms of energy. So no electricity, no gas-powered generators, no hamster-wheel convertibles. It's a different take on the post-apocalyptic genre, with militias taking control after everyone gets knocked back into the Stone Age. The heart of the story follows a young woman as she teams up with her uncle to find her brother and learn about what happened 15 years ago, why it happened, and how to reverse its effects and get the juice flowing so we can all use our electric can openers again. Kripke describes it as an epic journey rather than an anthology like his previous series. Also: Flashbacks!

SNAP JUDGMENT: Initially, the show is a bit disappointing given the brains behind it. The pilot doesn't immediately grab viewers because it's going for lengthy storytelling instead of throwing things at your eyes, but Kripke has a plan and I'm eager to hear it out. The action in the series is pretty solid, with swords as important as guns to create a swashbuckling vibe rather than an all-out assault. And the look is very different from what you've seen before; I've never seen a post-apocalyptic world appear so lush and vibrant.

PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: There's a mutated version of pilotitis here, as the opening hour is a lot of putting things into place with limited character development, but there's not much in the way of feeling pressure to lay everything out. Heck, it's hard to tell what kind of series this will be from the pilot. But Kripke's track record, the loads of potential, and an outstanding mystery at the center of everything means the real fun starts in Episode 2.

FACE(S) TO LOOK OUT FOR: Spiridakos is a pretty thing and a solid choice to play the heroine, and Pardo is great eye candy for the ladies. But I really want to see how Esposito follows up his Emmy-worthy performance in Breaking Bad.

RANDOM THOUGHT(S): The pilot aired at Comic-Con, where it received mixed reviews from the audience. Fan favorite Elizabeth Mitchell, who replaced Andrea Roth in a major role, did not appear in the version we screened or the version that was screened at Comic-Con. I expect her presence to mean only positive things for the series.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Before seeing the pilot, it was a 9 out of 10. After seeing the pilot, it's about a 6.

TRAILER:


Revolution will debut September 17 on NBC. If the power is still on.


RELATED STORIES:
This Is Not a Review: NBC's Pilot Go On
This Is Not a Review: ABC's Pilot Red Widow
This Is Not a Review: The CW's Pilot Arrow



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (68)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Watched the pilot tonight and really enjoyed it. I already see yet another show I'm gonna read the reviews on and go "whaaa? are we watching the same show?"...good thing I like reading 'em a ton anyways.
Reply
Flag
Esposito's performance on breaking bad is definitely going to be hard to match, let alone top. I guess it depends on how well the script is written. One of my supervisors at Dish has shown me the pilot and it seemed OK, but I don't know if it was enough to get me excited to watch the season premier. Like you said, it was primarily just setting things up for the next episode. I know I will end up watching it because my Hopper automatically records all of the prime time programming on NBC, but I think it will be when I have time rather than me making time for it.
Reply
Flag
The only really dumb part about this was how obvious it was that the writers have maybe never actually been to Chicago... I've grown up in the suburbs all my life and idk where outside the city they were but as far as I know, there are no mountainous gorges or waterfalls or anything in the middle of cornfields...
Reply
Flag
NBC and Sci Fi lately haven't been a good mix so if we go via track record it may not bode well for Revolution. The Cape, Persons Unknown and The Event just didn't hack it.
Reply
Flag
The Event got really good though to NBC's credit.. I was totally hooked after about 6 episodes or so. One of the problems was that they kept comparing it to LOST: huge mistake! With LOST I was hooked after 15 minutes of the pilot seriously. That's not an easy accomplishment and shows that don't hook viewers right from the get go - especially on NBC - lose steam fast and then they get the axe. But that's not to say NBC is incapable of coming out with a solid Sci-fi-ish show.
Reply
Flag
I still really want to catch this and I hope the finished product is better than what you saw. I'll follow Kripke anywhere and this show looks more promising than the new season of Supernatural.
Reply
Flag
It's NBC. It will be gone in two episodes because they never give anything a chance.
Reply
Flag
They gave Heroes, Chuck, Community and Friends a chance...
Reply
Flag
nbc and fox have that track record don't
Reply
Flag
What are you talking about? Community, Parks and Recreations and The Office say otherwise. In any other network they would have been cancelled a long time ago.
Reply
Flag
The trailer feels a bit like Terra Nova or Alcatraz. It could go either way but hopefully they explain why there's no electricity since just about anyone smart enough can create it in a stream of water....or whatever is out there, like a bike or a crosstrainer.
Reply
Flag
It does feel quite like Terra Nova. I was so pumped after seeing the Terra Nova trailer and this one too. I just hope it doesn't have the flaws that Terra Nova did. Both of the shows have very cool ideas in them and we'll see which one does better.
Reply
Flag
This show is a complete rip-off of S. M. Stirling's The Change series! Even the plane falling out of the sky in the trailer is in one of the 1st chapters of the first book of the series.
Reply
Flag
agreed. written by Kripke? more like stolen by Kripke. wouldn't be surprised if S.M. Stirling was suing.
Reply
Flag
I'm hoping it's not a character-driven whine-fest, with dreadful time-jumps.
Reply
Flag
The trailer does make it look very interesting, and I was definitely sold on it back when the Abrams/Kripke team-up was announced but... Honestly, where is Kripke's name in the preview? It's partly his brainchild and they're not even going to give him credit for it? But hey, that's just me being nitpicky. I'll give it the four episode test -proving the first episode isn't repulsive enough, re: The Cape and Grimm- to see how it evolves, plot and character wise.
Reply
Flag
Really looking forward to Revolution. Despite people saying that it'll be cancelled, I have faith in Kripke. After all, he created the best 5 seasons of Supernatural that I've ever seen.
Reply
Flag
Unless it's on the Syfy, where they do this type of shows I don see it being any good. I mean, so far the only the only good show of this genre that has been produced is Fringe and that's pretty much it. They always end up being the same: great concept/idea and poor execution and they always and I mean ALWAYS have a really annoying kid (remember Tyler from V?). I just see this as the next V or Terra Nova.
Reply
Flag
They've been doin that since lost ended trying to find next Big thing and failed 3 times already 3 with The Event, Flash-forward, and Alcatraz you can also ad Terra Nova to that list.
Reply
Flag
And they keep getting worse...

Flash Forward was better than The Event. The Event was better than Terra Nova. Terra Nova was better than Alcatraz.
Reply
Flag
I forgot about those two and you're completely right.
Reply
Flag
So, The Hunger Games for prime time?
Reply
Flag
Sort of, but not really. There were elements of it that reminded me of Hunger Games though.
Reply
Flag
I did see the pilot at Comic Con, and I have to admit it was a bit of a letdown for me. I don't know, maybe my expectations were too high because of Supernatural, Fringe, and seeing Jon Favreau. Hmm, maybe I'll give it another shot.
Reply
Flag
Oh boy, I can already see how these reviews are gonna go once the show's on the air.
Reply
Flag
I'll watch it because Kripke's name is on it but would it kill them to make their characters look little bit more dirty or least have them look like they are in Post- apocalyptic world and not just models playing them. I feel like they always forget that aspect when they make these type of shows now.
Reply
Flag
Just having the minds of Abrams and Kripke who have worked on shows like Fringe and Supernatural is enough to make me want to watch. I'll stay with the show for a few episodes before deciding whether to stick with it.
Reply
Flag
While JJ Abrams' shows are sometimes a bit mixed, the fact that he was involved with Lost (my favorite show), and a few other high-quality shows makes me excited whenever I see his name. I haven't caught up on Supernatural (I'm on season 4 now), but I think it's a very good show, so I'm also excited to see another show by Eric Kripke. And then there's Elizabeth Mitchell (liked her on Lost) Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Frakking Fring!). I'm very excited to see how this turns out. It looks very promising. Plus, as NeoBasch said, Supernatural did take some time developing into what it is. Hopefully it will live up to its potential and will stick around for a while (though I'm very weary of NBC's treatment of quality shows, given their recent statement about their comedies).
Reply
Flag
After you finish Season 5 of Supernatural, you might not wanna check out Seasons 6 & 7 since they are the worst seasons for the show.
Reply
Flag
You should stop watching Supernatural when you have finished season 5
Reply
Flag
I don't trust NBC at all - 0 trust - I won't watch this until I hear it's been renewed for a 2nd or even a third season. Too much history of cancelling decent shows so that they can replace them with worse shows and repeat.
Reply
Flag
I don't trust NBC since Heroes, even if the first season is solid enough there's no guarantee it would stay that way.
Reply
Flag
Kripke earns a 3 to 4 episode watch for me. While it doesn't look good. I have to remember that I didn't like Supernatural in its first couple episodes. But it became one of my more liked shows. So i will give it a shot. However, I feel we may be getting a little way too much in the whole apocalypse thing. This makes what the 5th show that is set in the apocalypse. I am sure that it is great in keeping the production costs down. But come on. However, I do like the plot and I think it can work, it being on NBC does leave me with a concern that it isn't going to be given long enough to find its legs.



PS I miss Prime Suspect.
Reply
Flag
The post-apocalyptic world thing has been done to death (Jericho, Afterworld, The Walking Dead, Falling Skies...) , but I've managed to find things I really enjoyed in all of these shows, so I guess there's room for one more show at least. But producers should be aware that at some point, people will be completely fed up of post apocalypse.



As many people have already pointed out, the premise makes no sense, but then, neither does the dead rising, walking around, seeing, hearing smelling even though their bodies are rotting and most (or all) of their brains is dead... That doesn't keep writers to produce interesting characters and engaging stories, so, yeah, I'll follow this one and see what happens.
Reply
Flag
Been looking forward to this for a while now.



"he pilot doesn't immediately grab viewers because it's going for lengthy storytelling instead of throwing things at your eyes" - you're not speaking on behalf of this viewer, I prefer my shows to focus on characters over wow-factor.
Reply
Flag
I am looking forward to this series as the concept seems interesting. I hope NBC will give it a full season to flesh out the characters and plot and does not pull the plug if it does not have giant raitings right away. This seems like a show that will need to get a few episodes under its belt before things really get going.
Reply
Flag
I believe in Kripke. Supernatural under his helm was the one of the best damn shows ever! This show will be good and it'll require 3-4 episodes to get into its groove.
Reply
Flag
I dislike the pudgy dude that insists on going along for the adventure already. He's creepy. As an adult he should have been dissuading the teen not going along.

Reply
Flag
I'm a electrician.. The concept of the show is bad, but the Kripke/Abrams combo at least warrants me checking it out. Maybe they'll even explain it in a way that isn't just "Energy doesn't work because aliens."... But I doubt it.
Reply
Flag
So steam power doesn't work, solar power doesn't work, evaporation doesn't work, chemical reaction doesn't work, kinetic transfer doesn't work, magnetism doesn't work, electrons don't flow, etc.? The amount of understanding we have now on how to make energy out of almost anything is astounding even on a low-tech level, to the point where basically if you say none of that understanding works, then our bodies shouldn't work either since they run on many of the same principles. That is the problem I had with this premise as presented... well, that and it's on NBC so it's guaranteed to either suck or get killed quick.
Reply
Flag
I'm confident this will be my favorite new show when it starts.
Reply
Flag
I grew up with TV shows that feature technological and scientific advancement, namely Fringe and Eureka. The thought of disabling the advance technology on the planet is opposite to the shows I loved and I think this is very interesting. I'll be looking forward to this. Also, the big names that go with these show is really pulling me in to watch.
Reply
Flag
you should check Jericho
Reply
Flag
I saw it at Comic-Con and was actually pleasantly surprised.

It is a Young Adult novel brought to screen, almost in perfect fashion (in the sense of its likeness to popular novels of the kind, not the actual execution of the series).



It was good in most senses, except the fact that the whole episode was mashed full of way too big coincidences.

We need to find a person in the neighboring big city? Oh, he's the first guy we happen to talk to.

He needs to find shelter? Oh, he's picked up by this lady who ends up having ties with the resistance, and has a power medallion.



Et cetera, et cetera. There were too many coincidences for it to feel believable. As if the pilot needed to be split into two episodes, or have some rewriting.

Still looking forward to the rest of it, though.
Reply
Flag
Supernatural didn't become what it was in a single episode, so I'll give this a shot. I'm not too worried. It'll probably shape up sooner rather than later.
Reply
Flag
snap judgement: i hate potentially make up the backstory as we go flashback shows.

i don't take elizabeth mitchell joining the cast as a sign of good things to come.i think she's a one trick pony in the acting department. always semi-confused look on her face anyone?
Reply
Flag
For Supernatural Kripke planted seeds that would not be realized until Season 5 as early as Season 2, so my HOPE is that he's got the backstory planned out and it will flow organically and make sense, but only time will tell.



But, yes, if this show is just made up as it goes along that will be no good.
Reply
Flag
Thanks for mentioning that. This obviously doesn't make it plausible, but it definitely makes it less absurd, since "all forms of energy" would mean



a) It's really ****ing cold out there (much too cold for anything to survive).



b) It wouldn't make sense to eat, since we can't utilize the chemical energy in the food.



c) Nothing can move, since that would mean that your body has kinetic energy. (Actually, even if everything is "not moving" in one coordinate system, it would be moving in another).



d) There's no gravity, since that would give everything a gravitational potential energy.



e) There's no matter, since matter has energy even at rest (E=mc^2). So this universe would have to be completely empty.
Reply
Flag
Sorry, were you responding to my comment above? And if you were, no problem! It does make the premise sound less absurd (which is a good thing).
Reply
Flag
Yes, I was responding to your post, the one that said that it's not "all forms of energy", but all advanced technology.
Reply
Flag
This sounds familiar.



The plot for Afterworld, an animated web series from a few years back.



After travelling to New York City on a business trip, Russell Shoemaker wakes to find all electronic technology dead and more than 99% of the human race missing. Driven by a need to discover the truth and determined to return to his family, he embarks on a journey to his home in Seattle, while recording and telling all of the events in his journal. Afterworld is the story of Russell's 3,000-mile (4,800 km) trek across a post-apocalyptic America as he encounters the strange new societies rebuilding themselves. Along the way, he also attempts to solve the mystery of what caused this global event, which survivors refer to as "the Fall."



Afterworld was good, hopefully Revolution will be too.

Reply
Flag
"... all forms of energy."



I think Tim may have taken some liberties with the wording of the synopsis. Here's how NBC describes the show:



Revolution takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Fifteen years earlier, an unknown phenomenon permanently disabled all advanced technology on the planet, ranging from computers and electronics to car engines and batteries. People were forced to adapt to a world without technology, and due to the collapse of public order, many areas are ruled by warlords and militias. The series focuses on the Matheson family, who possess an item that is the key to not only finding out what happened fifteen years ago, but also a possible way to reverse its effects. However, they must elude various enemy groups who want to possess that power for themselves.



"... disabled all advanced technology on the planet"



Notice how there is nothing said about energy? Now I'm not saying that makes this premise much more plausible. But almost all advanced technology in today's modern age is run on some form of electricity, so at least that makes the suspension of disbelief not completely impossible.



My hopes are still high.
Reply
Flag
Just FYI the original promos/description used the phrase all forms of energy. I don't think he didn't make it up. But I'm guessing they are trying to be clearer now, since the minute they announced it, people jumped on how it made no sense.
Reply
Flag
That's a helpful descriptor. I'm too much the scientist to allow an "all forms of energy" argument. Energy is much more complex, think of Einstein. If all forms of energy had gone out, so would all life. The 2nd law of thermodynamics and all that good stuff... it would imply a completely different universe (i.e. one in which life is not possible). With a shift in logic such as this, I find this show to be much more plausible scientifically and therefore I am much more excited going into it!! (I still would have tried it out, because I'm a sucker for drama and they've created a fun premise, but I would have been less happy science-wise. As for the knocking out all forms of electricity, there are non super extreme occurrences which could make that plausible, the problem with those being that they imply a certain other level of effects. Either way, more excited for this show, so yay.)
Reply
Flag
I'm totally with you. If the science behind a show/movie isn't even within the realm of possibility, I become very cynical and consequently my enjoyment of the show/movie is seriously mitigated.



Isn't it hilarious that scientific plausibility makes us more excited for a TV show? We MUST be nerds!
Reply
Flag
NERDS! LOL! I heart you guys though...and totally get it. It doesn't completely obliterate my ability to watch while enjoying but...I suppress my natural tendency to question and analyze to pieces.
Reply
Flag
I wonder if this series takes anything from the S.M. Stirling trilogy? In it some cryptic incident causes anything post-industrial age to stop working. The world plunges back into feudalism. It follows several families as they rebuild. Most of the characters are SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) members so they adopt medieval tactics to survive.
Reply
Flag
Like everyone else on this thread, I'm a little confused as to how certain things continue to function when technology ceases to. (In the show I mean). It's been a looooong time since I last had a chemistry lesson, but batteries are essentially powered by a chemical reaction, right? At least cells of a battery are. Also, internal combustion engines don't work, but gunpowder, explosives and fire do? That just doesn't make sense to me.

Furthermore, there are hundreds of ways of generating energy that don't involve the use of electricity. Steam engines for instance. A couple of other posters have already brought up some other issues I won't go into.

That said, I've only seen the trailer and I admire the talent involved so I'll definitely check it out. What I've seen so far, however, is a little disappointing.
Reply
Flag
I'm still psyched for it. The names behind it is enough for me to assume it wont be as bad as Alcatraz, Terra Nova, Falling Skies, etc. Hopefully I'm right.
Reply
Flag
The name JJ Abrams was attached to Alcatraz too. He seems to have very little to do with the (recent) shows that carry his name. Kripke's show Supernatural had some moments of greatness, but they were in no small part due to the actors. I doubt that these actors will be as good.



Terra Nova and Falling Skies both had a famous name behind it. Steven Spielberg was a producer on both.



I'm definitely going to check out Revolution, and I'm probably going to watch it until it gets cancelled. But I'm prepared to be disappointed.
Reply
Flag
I feel like they need to better define "no energy" and soon. Candles still burn, guns still fire, human beings still walk around with neural impulses and hearts beating etc. I've got to have faith that they'll get around the science if they want to keep up the mystery. If it is just an illogical plot device we have to accept, it can't stay at the center of the show it would be a constant annoyance. There are a couple of ways out and after listening to Kripke at ComicCon, my favorite is still alive. So I'm perplexed, but I haven't given up yet.
Reply
Flag
I share the same concerns as the other commenters. No Energy just seems a bit off. I get that it's a mystery and whatnot, but if the science behind it just doesn't make any sense, everything else can be great and the show would still suffer for it. Do these kind of shows have some kind of consultant? Someone who maybe opened a scinece book in his life to tell the writers what makes sense and what doesn't? I'm just cursious. I know the Big Bang Theory has such a guy. Do other shows as well?
Reply
Flag
I just hope it's not another Terra Nova.
Reply
Flag
At least Terra Nova had dinosaurs.



It does sound like this might be more like Falling Skies, but without the aliens and the special effects. For that matter the whole premise makes it sound like it's just a bunch of people standing around talking.



And no energy would also mean no bio-energy. And what about gravitational energy?



Reply
Flag
Yeah the energy thing is... yeah. I mean kinetic energy, static energy... I'm no scientist, but technically without ANY energy wouldn't we humans as a biological entity just collapse and die? Electricity I get, but ALL forms seems off.
Reply
Flag
I don't buy this "no energy" idea. Makes no sense whatsoever. I get why they want this special kind of an apocalyptic world - but seriously it's total bogus
Reply
Flag
Well, if it was no Electricity (save for small amounts in our nerves) then I could understand SOME sort of thing going on. Like a persistent Electro Magnetic Field akin to some perma-EM-pulse.



But no Gas... that's odd. As you can get a Diesel engine going without any electricity since ignition is compression and not via a spark plug. I doubt anything could also prevent a chemical reaction of fire/combustion that wouldn't also kill humans with their necessary chemical reactions.



I'd IMAGINE that mechanical energy is still fine though: water wheels, wind mills, etc.
Reply
Flag
"Initially, the show is a bit disappointing given the brains behind it. The pilot doesn't immediately grab viewers because it's going for lengthy storytelling instead of throwing things at your eyes, but Kripke has a plan and I'm eager to hear it out."

Yikes...sounds like the kiss of death...



I fear this will either end up as Alcatraz (intriguing setting that gets wasted in a boring procedural) or Awake (intriguing setting that pays off but only to people who give it a chance and try it out, but ultimately never finds an audience).



I trust this will get more promotional money than Awake did, so it's got that going for it, but I smell 1 and done.



Could be really unfortunate.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    The Bachelorette
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    Mistresses Blurred Lines
    NEW
    ABC