Revolution turns out the lights in its first episode

There has certainly been a lot of hype about J.J. Abrams new NBC series, Revolution. But after the disappointment that Alcatraz was, can the new series live up to being better? I’ve watched the pilot episode and I am happy to report that Revolution is not just watchable, but also entertaining. In fact, I think it has potential.

Without giving away any spoilers, Revolution begins with what we’ve been told so far: the lights have gone out all over the world. But it’s not just the lights – it’s every electronic device. And without electronic devices, the world plunges into a second Dark (no pun intended) Ages. We see grand cities, like Chicago, covered in ivy, much like that Discovery Channel show that showed what the planet would be like after humans went the way of the dodo.

The opening cinematic is not just dramatic, but almost jaw dropping. We get to the meat of the story right at the get-go. As the world goes black, the mystery begins (and we’re giving hints that there are people in this world who knew it was coming).

After the opening credits roll, it’s 15 years later and the world has moved on. Instead of governments, militia control the world and people have formed villages where each “tribe” takes care of its own.

The premise is similar to many other shows, although the lack of electronics is a new spin on the story. The beginning of the show felt very much like Lost, and that’s a very good thing here. I so desperately want Revolution to give me the feeling that Lost did. This pilot doesn’t quite measure up to the one established by Lost, but those are some big shoes to fill.

In this pilot episode, the action in Revolution was non-stop. It felt like a great adventure and there were some great moments of not really knowing what was going to happen next. I did find a few cliches with characters (the wide doe-eyed niece looking for her father’s brother, a bitter “I don’t want nothing to do with no one” uncle who changes his mind later), I still feel the series holds a lot of promise. Although I still don’t feel connected enough to the characters to care what happens to them, I am intrigued by their story.

As far as acting goes, Tracy Spiridakos, as Charlie, is pretty, almost to the point of distraction. Her equally handsome brother, Danny (portrayed by Graham Rogers) is also distracting. In fact, the entire cast is almost too pretty. It’s so very Hollywood that it’s hard to believe that these people have ever suffered any hardship in their lives. If this had been cast as a UK production, I’m guessing the actors would have looked more like us. And maybe this is where I have trouble finding a connection with these people.

However, a few actors shine in their roles. Maria Howell as Grace is more than she seems and plays that very well. Giancarlo Esposito (Once Upon A Time‘s Sydney) is a cold-hearted militia man who does what he has to in order to follow orders.  I especially liked Zak Orth as a former Google employee who would trade his millions of dollars for one roll of Charmin (his words, not mine). In fact, Orth’s character is the one I identified with.

There are also some good mysteries to this story (as there must be), and these are the things I find myself wanting to know more about. Obviously, the biggest question is “Why did the lights go out?” We’re given a few teases on who might have some answers to that, though. There is also a nice little twist at the end of this first episode that will have the conspiracy theorists burning up the internet looking for answers. And these are the things that will ultimately keep the series entertaining.

But will these mysteries sustain the series over a season or several seasons? Only time will tell. Certainly with J.J. Abrams on board, along with Eric Kripke (Supernatural) writing, there’s got to be something good here.

Revolution premieres on NBC on September 17th.

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