Robot Roundtable: Revolution
Sometimes Giant Fire Breathing Robot TV writers like to talk about programs instead of reviewing them. When that happens you get the Robot Roundup, a discussion about topics, programs, and news happening in the world of television.
Jim: I think I’d call my reaction to the first episode as “patiently annoyed.” Things have gotten better each week, but the show is still sticking to making Charlie and Danny act like stupid teenagers to force the plot where the writers want it. I gotta credit the writers took big steps away from that this week. Am I being too nitpicky for not wanting annoying teenagers to act like annoying teenagers?
Billy: No, it’s not too nitpicky at all. The annoying teenager is a weird latter-day sci-fi trope that needs to go away. Charlie is a terribly annoying character at times (in particular in this episode, when she learns the truth of her uncle’s involvement in the Militia), and I don’t think that Tracy Spiridakos is a very good actress. But at least with Danny he was only in a few minutes and got to be a little bit of a badass by choking his guard.
Jim: Right now the more the series relies on Spiridakos, the harder it is to enjoy. And you’re right, it isn’t just that the script has them act stupid to control the plot. Ironically, she has shared most every scene with Billy Burke, who I think we can both agree is the most interesting and engaging character onscreen. She has the most wooden performance, as if she thought it was still the table read when the cameras started rolling. I honestly wished Miles had gotten dragged away for a few episodes so he could have a few more scenes with the always-terrific Mark Pellegrino.
Billy: Billy Burke (outside of having a kickass first name) is almost certainly the best part of this show. He’s an actor who I’ve enjoyed watching ever since I first saw him in season 2 of 24. He and Pellegrino were wonderful this hour. Pellegrino got to chew more scenery here than he did in his entire tenure as Satan on Eric Kripke’s other series, Supernatural. And the best part of the hour came from the flashbacks and the revelation that Miles was fundamental in the creation of the Monroe Militia. Normally, I feel like a flashback structure is lazy storytelling feeding off of the format that Lost drove into the ground years ago, but here I’m actually really interested in the stuff that happened after the Blackout and the viewers’ present day.
Jim: I know the flashbacks are predictable. We know Miles will start the Militia with good intentions and things will go pear-shaped. But it’s more fun than the long search for Danny. It’s those secondary stories like the flashbacks to the early days of the blackout and the attempt to restore the power (all the stuff not involving the younger actors) that are carrying the series thus far. Danny was better this week. Can you think of another series where the main character is the weakest link? It reminds me of Buffy, where I loved everything, but wasn’t a huge fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance.
Billy: Perhaps. The Buffy analogy is interesting, but is Danny that important to this series? Is Charlie? No. They do not have the answers to the Blackout that Monroe is looking for. They aren’t from a long line of vampire hunters or some other prophetic destiny. They are just as normal as all the other characters, just perhaps a bit more… well… useless. I could see this show heading down the Rebels vs. Militia route, and I’m very interested in that story, I just don’t see how these kids fit just yet. They may make a huge impact down the line, but right now I’m seeing little benefit to their existence.
Jim: The kids are like the show. There’s potential for more down the road. Things have improved a little each week and I honestly have a ton of faith in Kripke to get the most out of the concept.
Billy: Well, if you look to Supernatural as a template, then Revolution will probably be a fine show. Supernatural took a good ten episodes before it got really good. There’s a mythology here that I’m coming around on. I’m interested. I’m still watching. I love seeing all the ruined vistas, and the interesting stories of how the country survived intrigue me.
Jim: Technically, the show looks terrific. There are four or five very strong performances, led by Burke, Giancarlo Esposito. After three episodes, things are actually going well despite my complaints. Lots of scifi/fantasy series take time to find their legs. Speaking of Buffy, the first 11 episodes were incredibly weak. In Vampire Diaries, the first 10 were really bad. You just can’t expect every series to be Lost and have a perfectly formed identity with great execution right out of the gate.
Billy: You’re absolutely right. There’s a lot of potential here, and I’m fairly excited to see where this show progresses. Some things are shaky, but this is probably one of the more promising hour-long shows that NBC has had on their slate in a VERY long time. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for the future.
If you’re interested in following along with the different locations that these characters visit during episodes of Revolution, check out NBC’s interactive map.
And if you’d like to catch of sneak preview of next week’s episode, you can check it out right here.