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.
Revolution will debut September 17 on NBC. If the power is still on.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom