Monday, October 1, 2012

'Revolution': A Second Look...

Usually if I write a negative review of a new pilot in which I still manage to find some merits, I revisit the analysis after episode three. If I have drastically changed my mind about the series a bit more as a whole, I write a secondary review. Admittedly, this has only happened a handful of times-- most recently and notably with American Horror Story, in which I did a complete one-eighty from the pilot to "Murder House." But tonight, I am inspired to take a second look at Revolution-- not, mind you, because I have suddenly been converted but simply because some of what I was looking for in the flashbacks, the show has actually delivered in the present day story-- in a way I never expected. And isn't that the marker of the kind of programming I love? That which can surprise me and give me things I didn't have the imagination to know I wanted? Touche.

Click here for my initial review of Revolution. 

If a show wants to entice me to care more, bringing in acting talent like Mark Pellegrino and Michael Mosley is certainly a good way to do it. Answering questions about the hows and whys is an even better way to do it, though. 

I still do not care if the lights ever come back on-- I still do not believe the people of this world deserve to have the lights back on. They have clearly corrupted themselves far beyond what they ever could have done in the craptastic U.S. of A. I have always called home. For this reason I don't buy into the rah-rah patriotism that is surely only coming from a handful of characters because the grass is always greener, and it's easy to look back on something lost through rose colored glasses. I don't like that the "Rebels" of this show are the ones fighting to restore old governmental order. Rebels are supposed to be anti-establishment and anti-authority, and these are only anti-this current establishment and authority. Replacing one with another does not work, as the show is truly evidence of in the first place.

I still think this is a little more rah rah patriotism than is for me. I prefer shows that show us worlds that are better than our own to give us something to strive for-- rather than show us a cautionary tale of what we could become. Because when I end up preferring that world anyway, I end up feeling badly about myself-- and like I'm missing the point they are trying to make.

I'm curious about why the lights went out in the first place, but it's becoming increasingly evident that it was a simple corruption of power, too. What I have always been most interested in is the non-literal darkness-- the ruthlessness, the primal instinct-- that I was convinced took over in the immediate days and weeks following the blackout-- at least for those who managed to survive. Clearly something major had kicked in, and with the pilot, I felt a bit cheated that we had skipped ahead. It was hard to care about the characters when I didn't know their plights. 

As it plays, out, though, the darkness I see in the present day world in Revolution is certainly intriguing enough to hold my interest. I mean, if you can look past the graceful choreography of the sword fight sequences, you will realize these people are literally slicing other people's throats. People. Not demons; not vampires; not monsters of the week. Other people. Let that sink in for a minute. 

Plus, I can't deny I love the fact that the hero of this story is a teenage girl who has no problem standing up to everyone around her. She's what Katniss should be-- if Katniss wasn't so manipulative she ended up convincing herself to settle for something she never really wanted.

I still have a deep desire to see the story that brought them to that point, and that means I still care way more about the flashbacks than I do anything in present day. At times this makes episodes frustrating because they are not even splits with time periods, but I appreciate that the show isn't trying to pull something over the audience's eyes or assume it's more clever than we are. I like that it doesn't rely on twists to hold your attention. And I really like its pace. A few years ago, it would have taken seasons to figure out the why behind the big mystery, let alone the how and the way to "fix it." We're on episode three now, and already key characters know the electricity is still out there, they just have to figure out how to tap into it. Or if they should. At this rate, the end of the first season should play with power much more literally by showing just how things would be altered when the current disenfranchised get back part of their old way of life and a whole generation has to adjust as fish out of water in a new-old world.

Eric Kripke certainly knows what he's doing both with the storytelling and the production style of this show. I never said it wasn't a well-produced show; I simply said it wasn't for me. But over time, it has truly grown on me. It's still not exactly the show I would have made, but like I said, that's more than okay-- sometimes that's better. Kripke certainly has a deeper imagination than I do, and the way he split up characters already and created fractures in families by the secrets they keep is a much more human story than many others would have done and much more interesting than what I was expecting.

And you know what? I'll take a slow burn scripted serialized series over any situational or reality one any day! Revolution is not my first pick for its time slot, but if it keeps delivering a lot of story in a short amount of time, it just may get there.



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