Review: ‘Revolution’ – ‘Chained Heat’

A review of last night’s “Revolution” coming up just as soon as there’s a sale on heroin…

“Revolution” debuted to very strong ratings last week. Then again, so did “The Event,” “FlashForward,” and several other similar high-concept sci-fi shows. This is why networks like high-concept pilots: they’re easier to promote than something that either takes more than a sentence to explain, or is just a well-executed version of a familiar idea. Of course, “The Event” and “FlashForward” quickly started to drop in the ratings once viewers realized the show didn’t live up to the concept, and we’ll have to see if “Revolution” follows the same path. (Fienberg should have a story on last night’s ratings posted around noon Eastern.)

I wasn’t crazy about the “Revolution” pilot, and there wasn’t a lot in “Chained Heat” to make me feel better. They managed to incorporate a lot of action – nothing as sustained as last week’s sword fight, but lots of little skirmishes (one of them ending with poor C. Thomas Howell getting his neck broken) – but I still find the 15 Years Later world less interesting than the 1 Week Later world could be(*), I’m not feeling drawn in by any of the big revelations (here that Elizabeth Mitchell is alive, and that there’s some kind of bad guy among the people with the magic USB drives), and I still don’t like anybody but Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito.

(*) Though this week’s flashback wasn’t all that specific to the blackout. Ben and his family could have been on “The Walking Dead,” or “Falling Skies” or other post-apocalyptic settings where at least batteries might work.

Charlie went from dull last week to irritating Mary Sue this week: the morally upright heroine who’s there to teach the bad boy hero about right and wrong. Admittedly, she screws up by not telling him to kill Howell, and she goes along with killing the prison guard, but she plays much more like a character who grew up in the pre-blackout world than someone who really only knows this more dangerous environment. A set-up where the two teenage characters are the most ruthless ones, while the adults from time to time feel the pull of morality from 20 years ago would both feel more honest to the setting and perhaps make me not wish Charlie and Danny would just go away.

I’ll check back in a few weeks, probably, but nothing here filled me with more optimism about the long-term creative viability of this show.

What did everybody else think?