If the world's power was suddenly shut off by way of some giant breaker box in the sky, we'd all be bummed.
Take, for instance, this review. You would not be able to simply flip on your laptop or phone or whatever and pull these words up from the ether like you used to. Nor would I be able to use a computer to write them. First, I'd have to type the thing out on some sort of rusty manual typewriter somewhere (because, trust me, you don't want to try to read my handwriting), find an ancient hand-crank printing press in order to make a few million copies (humor me here) and then I'd have to walk to all of your houses and personally give you a copy.
Then, once you were done reading, you'd holler after me (as I trudge wearily to the next house) and say, "Hey! TVs don't even work anymore! What am I supposed to do with this!?"
So we can all be glad we don't live in the world of NBC's Revolution.
The setup for yet another J.J. Abrams freaky serial drama is pretty simple. The power's out, and all anybody seems to know at first is that "physics went insane!" But a few people know exactly what happened. They're secreting away little mysterious flash drives and tinkering around on hidden makeshift computers, typing cryptic messages to one another.
They know that it's the nanites' fault—microscopic machines that heal fearsome diseases but in doing so absorb every bit of electricity swirling around them. One or two people even know how to flip the switch back on. To them it's all as clear as those old 60-inch plasma flat-panel TVs used to be.
In the meantime, though, the world—or at least the United States—has splintered into fiefdoms, and most of the countryside is filled with roaming militia groups or barbaric bandits.
It's a simpler world that makes for a more convoluted ongoing plot. If I gave you a full rendition of what everybody's doing in this ensemble drama, it'd be a recitation so full of meanwhiles and therefores that I'd still be writing it next week … right about the time it was all outdated. One thing that has remained constant: We're told to tag along with a pretty teen girl named Charlie and her battle-hardened uncle, Miles. These two very much don't like Miles' old boss Sebastian Monroe, head of the petty fiefdom of the Monroe Republic. Because beyond just naming his little corner of the world after himself, Monroe wants to conquer the rest of the country by any means necessary—even if that means nuking everybody back into the Stone Age. Which, when you think about it, is just a tad bit ironic.
The brainchild of Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams (the latter the mind behind Lost, Fringe and Alias), Revolution already has a daunting pedigree: The pilot episode was directed by Jon Favreau, the guy who helmed the Iron Man movies. So it would seem that NBC has high hopes for the series.
But the show has some problems. Beyond the fact that its heroic nomads wear clothes that look far too freshly laundered for their dire circumstances, Revolution can turn quite violent for a network series, with folks getting cut down by way of blade, crossbow bolt or the occasional bullet. We see sprays of blood and gaping wounds and often hear a squishy wet sound when a knife skewers somebody. Language can be harsh too.
That's a little startling, actually, and not just in a jarring "who turned out the lights?" way. Revolution feels as though it's of two minds: a brightly lit sci-fi adventure vying with a dark, shadowy one that wants it to stay true to its bleak dystopian, Lost-like roots.
"The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"
Monroe's latest dastardly plan involves triggering a nuclear bomb in Atlanta. Miles and Charlie must try to stop it.
En route, much blood is shed. Someone's stabbed in the chest and dies. Someone else is shot in the chest and dies. Several people are shot in the head. (One is gunned down right in front of us.) We see punctured foreheads and blood pools. A crossbow dart sinks into a man's shoulder. A ruffian begins to manhandle Rachel in an effort to rape her. A knife is threateningly held to Miles' groin. Two people are burned alive from the inside out—thanks to the "magic" of nanite tech. Their skin blisters and smokes before they crumple and die. And note that the woman who kills them says, "Must be what God feels like."
But self-sacrifice runs deep here too, from Miles and Charlie and Rachel. And also from a woman who forcefully demands (to the point of threatening to take her own life) that her own well-being not be considered when it comes to stopping all the warring by restoring the power. Miles continues to confront his dark and violent past, trying to atone for it in both small and large ways.
We meet two women who share a relationship that's (just barely) implied to be lesbian. Charlie unbuttons part of her blouse to distract soldiers. Characters say "a‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "h‑‑‑." They misuse God's name a half-dozen times.
A militia rides into town, shoots Charlie's dad dead (we see blood spreading on his shirt) and carts off her brother, Danny. With his dying breath, Dad tells Charlie to save her brother and find Uncle Miles. So she hits the road with her small band of tagalongs … and get involved in some nasty, nasty fights all along the way. A dozen or more souls meet their maker in run-ins with swords, knives and arrows.
Danny's journey is no less fraught. He escapes, he's captured again, he fights, he's hit, he bashes a guard with a pipe.
Charlie's dad isn't the only casualty of the militia raid. And on the road, Charlie is assaulted. It's clear that her assailant is planning to rape her before she's saved and he's killed with an arrow. (We see him skewered through the torso.) Rachel offers a bottle of poisoned whiskey to the attackers, and two of them die (coughing up blood). Hand-to-hand combat is extended and intense. People are slapped and punched.
Charlie treats both of her parents disrespectfully and insults her stepmom. "She hops into bed with you and that makes her Mom?" she hollers at her dad. Miles muses about drinking himself to death. Profanities include "h‑‑‑" (four or five times) and "b‑‑ch" (once), along with about three misuses of God's name.