Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Revolution’

[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]

Show:“Revolution” (NBC)
The Pitch:“Remember when all of the networks were trying to do mythology-rich shows like ‘Lost,’ but they all failed? This is like those shows, only since there are fewer of them now and since we know how ‘Lost’ turned out, maybe this one won’t fail.”
Quick Response:Perhaps because it was directed by Jon Favreau — not that that’s any excuse, since it was written by Eric Kripke and produced by J.J. Abrams, both TV veterans — “Revolution” has the deliberate build of a 125-minute movie, only it stops at the 44-minute mark. That means that you spend a lot of time exposition-izing and then just when things get fun… BAM. See you next week. And the exposition-izing is odd, because in some ways, “Revolution” is astoundingly efficient. The set-up for premise is insanely swift, with the core energy outage taking place within the opening two minutes. From there, we’re given 30 minutes of world-building that ideally either needed to take more time — so it had actual context and we cared about the characters — or less time — because a lot of stuff happened, but it doesn’t mean anything. And I couldn’t tell you which I’d prefer. On one hand, there’s a roadtrip to Chicago — impressively overgrown with foliage only 15 years after The Blackout — that could have been spaced over three or four episodes and actually meant something, but the pilot doesn’t really kick into gear until we get to Chicago and meet Billy Burke’s character, a sword-weilding Han Solo equivalent. It’s a huge cast, but after 44 minutes, I only had a desire to see Burke and, predictably, badass Sheriff of Nottingham-esque Giancarlo Esposito. I guess I could watch more of leading lady Tracy Spiridakos, who’s very much cut from the J.J. Abrams Leading Lady Mold. She’s pretty and kinda sells a few emotional moments. So you’ve got those three actors, some interesting production values and some really big mysteries that aren’t actually mysterious, but since I don’t know the answers, I have to count them as mysteries. [Oh and yes, there’s an annoying teenage son. You know you were curious.]
Desire To Watch Again: The pacing is weird. The mysteries are beyond “Jericho”-esque. The cast is too big and too full of forgettable people. But I like that things go a bit nutty in the last act and I like Burke, Esposito and Spiridakos. The bottom line for any pilot is always less “Do I like the show?” and more “Do I want to watch the next episode?” In the case of “Revolution,” the answer is “Yes, I kinda do.” This is one of those Two Roads Diverged In a Yellow Wood pilots. The path that they take in Episode 2 will make all the difference.

All of last year’s Take Me To The Pilots entries