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Saturday, 31 of October of 2020

Tag » Revolution

Revolution – “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”

“Miles, you’re like a bad penny, man.”

Miles keeps his rifle after Monroe puts down his weapon.

“What? What’d I do?”

Leave it to Mark Pellegrino to make that line work.

The guard of the Monroe Republic, officers and soldiers alike, have been fed a lot of terrible things over the season but, with casting like Pellegrino, Giancarlo Esposito, and David Lyons masking some terribly cheesy dialogue all season, the swing from the cast of the bad guys to the cast of the good guys is like watching a play on Broadway and stepping out to watch 6th graders act out Book of Mormon.

Maybe that’s a little hyperbolic but you can see what I mean watching this show. It seems unfair of the acting power they have in Philadelphia while Billy Burke Han Solos his way across the countryside, being towed along by Tracy Spiridakos (who has totally mastered that frightful sideglance), Daniella Alonso (honestly, how do you deliver that “Maybe because he tried to kill him line” and not sound like the worst?), Zak Orth (who’s doing okay playing a part that’s perfect for Bad Robot player Greg Gruneberg). It’s not that these people are especially terrible but they’re parts are so cornball and overdramatic that the people playing the whisper-growling, stoic villains get the better end of the weak-writing stick, particularly with their unbalanced strength of cast.

I think that was especially true for this final episode until Sargent Strausser opened his dang, pervy mouth.

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Revolution – “Kashmir”

“Now you need me.”

Charlie, Nora, and Aaron try to break the door down.

Is this Revolution or Legends of the Hidden Temple?

If there’s one thing I hate about an episode of television, it’s when the episode goes out of its way to tell us something we already know.

I don’t mean the “Previously On” or whatever mysteries we’ve managed to sort out before it’s revealed. I mean spending time in the episode like we’re idiots telling us information we already have because either the show underestimates the audience’s attention or is filling time. We’re talking about awkward soliloquies and, my most reviled breed of television episode, the clip show.

You’ll recognize this tendency mostly in sitcoms when characters rehash a storyline in ten seconds or less when the show comes back from commercial to remind us of what happened. After a lifetime of television, I’ve become particularly numb to that brand of insult, especially since it’s basically one cog in a formula by now. Having a character not awkwardly review what happened two minutes ago would make the show seem incomplete. A network exec might send revisions back just based on that alone.

The more insulting ones are part of the serialized drama. Chuck was guilty of this all the time. As a tool to make a show more attractive to syndication (to lessen the learning curve when stripping the show either out of order or for an audience that isn’t necessarily going to watch 5 times a week) so new, casual, or senile viewers, the plot-thus-far of any of the ongoing story arcs would be reviewed in the first few minutes of the episode. Chuck would rattle off a series of clumsily assembled words to make sure the audience remembers what’s at stake.

What does this have to do with Revolution? Consider that 70% of this episode to be those clumsily assembled words.

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Revolution – “Sex and Drugs”

Charlie gets instructions from Drexel about how to kill Bill.

No one in this room actually thinks Charlie is going to stab anyone in the eyeball.

My first introduction to Tracy Spiridakos (our gal Charlie) was in a one-page “interview” from the August issue of GQ. As women featured in GQ are wont to do, she was artistically topless and wearing pink jeans that struggle to cover what you would think would be a behind easily masked by off-the-rack clothing but, lucky for us, this turned out not to be the case. I put “interview” in quotes because seemingly she was asked two to three questions, enough to fill enough negative space with words to justify the image and all of them were pointed to a male fantasy. She plays video games! She likes to hack and slash! She watches Battlestar Galactica! All right, it’s a nerdy male fantasy but still, she’s referred to as a babe and not in an infantile way.

GQ isn’t exactly picky about picking women to splash across its pages in various states of undress (“Hey! Can you find creative ways to cover your nipples in front of a blank white wall? Good enough for us!”) but positioning Spiridakos to sell Revolution on her aesthetic feminine wiles in the press might lead you to believe that she would do the same on the show. Surprisingly, for the most part, that hasn’t been the case.

In fact, much of the show and her character trades on her innocence or naivete, both as an emotional core and, in my opinion, as a non-villainous antagonist. She’s constantly walking into trouble like Mr. Magoo but in place of a blindness that gets her onto the girders of a building under construction it’s her not sticking to the plan that constantly gets her captured. She has a variety of tight-fitting shirts (as everyone on the show seems to) but, outside of her cousin getting all worked up for her, there hasn’t been a focus on trying to make her a sex symbol of the show. Until NBC got a hold of this episode.

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Revolution – “Soul Train”

“No, it’s you AND me. And we’re going to blow up that train.”

Map of the territories post-Blackout.

Even post-Blackout, no one wants a piece of Canada.

I don’t like the idea of comparing this show to Lost. Mostly because I don’t think it actually competes but also because I don’t believe it’s an apples to apples comparison. They share many of the same traits (mystery for which answers are provided in small tastes, adventuring without the benefit of modern conveniences, castmembers that look really good in tight shirts) but Revolution feels, somehow, much more straightforward. Maybe because we know upfront that the answer isn’t magic.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing for the show to be more straightforward in terms of learning curve. Lost‘s complicated story, with its myriad offshoots and complexities, creating diminishing returns when people would hear the hype and try to jump in. If only they’d thought of putting the series on Netflix like they did with Breaking Bad. But, with Revolution, we have a short introduction in the beginning of every episode that contains all you really need to know about the show to continue.

Sure, Lost had a Previously On but, from how many people still today ask “What was up with the polar bear?” (despite the answer coming in Season 3), we have a bit of disconnect between the important events for an episode and seasons of mythology. Revolution may be new but, as long as it’s contained in this box, it might actually learn from the mistakes of the learning curve that Lost suffered in the ratings.

Now, if they could only get me to care about the concerns of these characters.

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Revolution – “The Plague Dogs”

“I just want a future for my child.”

Revolution title card

You are very smart, smarter than you might realize. A diet of serial narrative television provides you with a media intelligence that is unsurpassed in the history of storytelling. You’ve suffered the eternal questions and hidden clues of Lost. You’ve pointed out continuity roadblocks in Flash Forward. You knew The Event wasn’t going to last. And it’s all part of picking up on the details of how these shows are put together, even if you don’t fully understand the mechanics, that makes you a smarter, more critical audience.

That is why I think I’ve seen so many people on Twitter announce that they’re “out” with this series. They’ve tried it, stayed in for a hand or two, and then pushed back from the table. Because the audience for Revolution is smart. Now, that’s not to say everyone has tossed in their cards. Revolution is doing well, particularly for NBC, well enough to be picked up for a full season. But people are falling off. The show is slow-playing their story, which is essential for a premise like theirs.

But people have no interest in staying in a hand when they already know what’s being played.

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Revolution – “Chained Heat”

“Burn it. Burn everything.”

Revolution title card

Last week on Revolution, Charlie said “family” so many times, the word lost all meaning. It was a very clear message that “family” in the post-apocalypse was going to be an important theme for the show as the core motivation for why anything happened. Unfortunately, whenever I hear the word “family” now, I roll my eyes, even when Revolution isn’t involved.

We’d hoped that this was just a growing pain from the pilot, an issue of establishing themes for the series in a limited amount of time by beating them into our heads (as pilots are wont to do). But, while the second episode isn’t bad, they double down on the discussion of post-civilization morality in a way that is so transparent each segment is like a vignette of thinly-veiled discussion on our modern hot-button issues.

I’m starting to feel like this show is going to desensitize me to ethical debate.

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Audition Review: Revolution – “Pilot”

Nick and I have become oddly addicted to these cross-talks (they’re less labor-intensive than full reviews), so expect more of these (but we promise to continue full reviews).

Below, we’ll discuss Revolution in terms of hopes, dreams, stupid teenagers, and why Giancarlo Esposito basically does no wrong. We’re both hopeful for it, and want it do well, but the pilot doesn’t instill confidence. -NK Read more »