Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TV Review: Revolution, 'Chained Heat' (NBC)

Not getting any better.

I'm not going to continue reviewing this show unless next week's episode offers a story that makes sense. Not every show is perfect, but this is starting to become insulting. We have a premise, some style, reasonable performances, but a ridiculous script.  I'm a huge fan of Alan Sepinwall's reviews, and I like how he described Ryan Murphy's shows as schizophrenic.  This isn't a Ryan Murphy show, and I don't think Revolution qualifies as that.  Because that would require personality.

The second installment was supposed to cover themes of loyalty, tough choices, and impossible odds. I'm not sure what I watched, but it wasn't that.  It's obvious that we will learn more of the back story as each new episode begins with a flashback.  Just like an episode of Lost, these flashbacks will offer some thematic elements for each new episode. Again, the performances were OK.  The story is starting to fall apart.

It was nice to see a C. Thomas Howell sighting.  Seriously, you do one black-face movie and you're never heard from again (see Soul Man).

Is it just me (of course is it, that's why I'm writing for my own blog), or is Charlie a whiner.  I wanted Miles to kill the bounty hunter - C. Thomas Howell if only to prove to her that she doesn't get want she wants.  I understand that she's supposed be the naive kid from the farm - a Luke Skywalker to Miles Matheson's Han Solo.  At least Luke was intrigued by the universe outside his planet and was self aware of his own naiveté.

Charlie's character changes from scene to scene. One minute she's the hardened and resourceful child of the post black-out era and the next she's Carl from the Walking Dead.  Someone should have yelled to Charlie, "Just stay in the house Charlie!"

Unlike the Walking Dead, where zombies are killing everyone not named Carl, This show has given us very little reason to believe that as soon as the lights go out the world falls apart. Panic and confusion is all it took to destroy a 236-year-old democracy. Without cars and internet, whatever remained of the 300 million Americans decided - screw it, lets form a slave-owning, militia-backed dictatorship.

It's only been 15 years and everyone is a sociopath.  It's a lot easier counting how many people die in each episode (and there's a lot) than how many times a character displays any human emotion for another "living" person.  Charlie seems to only care about her brother out of pride or misplaced guilt, but it certainly isn't out of love.  I guess electricity also provides us the ability to share memes as well has human kindness.

This show asks the audience too many times to suspend disbelief in order to follow these characters aimlessly through the wilderness (without a map, compass, star charts, and GPS - at least Aaron noticed).  It doesn't held that the characters are merely an amalgam (my new favorite word - thanks Leslie Knope) from better stories like Hunger Games and well, let's be honest - all of them.

I could keep going on about either the flashback with the stranger or the mercy killing by Nevil, but it would be redundant.  It's as if, having people die allows the writers to abandon their duties.  It's too hard to explain what Charlie is going through - so let's just have a scene in which she witness's her mother becoming a murderer (without context!. Ultimately this show missed an opportunity to allow the audience to identify with one of its main characters.

They want to do too much with Charlie. She'll have a fairy-tale, star-crossed-lovers romance. She's our moral compass and can decide when it's justifiable to kill other people. She's the female heroine, expert archer, and can wrestle a gun away from a full-grown, military-trained man twice her size.  It makes you wonder why Miles is even part of this story.

What they should have done: send Charlie on her quest to rescue her brother with all the naiveté of a girl that's grown up on a farm, living peacefully in harmony with nature.  Because that's exactly how the show started!  If the creators would have done this, we (audience) could have learned about this retro-apocalypse right along with her.

Finally, the scenes don't feel as powerful as the music suggests.  NBC should have made Revolution as an anime.

- Eric McLeroy

1 comment:

  1. Huh, Anime on network TV; who would have thunk? I think one of the problems with network TV, is that every episode has the pressure to be like an entire movie to keep the attention of the audience, and bring them back. There’s too much of a demand on a show to do that effectively. With each episode though, Revolution is digging deeper into what things were like right after the anomaly, and so far, my DISH coworker and I think they’re doing a decent job keeping the suspense going. We watch commercial free with Auto Hop on PrimeTime recordings too because we’re TV people, so we can watch more of it when he comes over to visit. That way, it’s like watching several movies a night.