NBC’s Revolution

Well, the premier episode of “Revolution” was on tonight.

I think I missed the very first minute or so of the show, but it started out with scenes of the lights mysteriously going out all over, airplanes falling out of the sky, cars stalling out on the road and so-on.   I don’t think they said exactly how this happened, but I guess the viewer assumes it was some kind of EMP attack.

We fast-forward 15 years and see images of nature reclaiming urban areas and a suburban subdivision transformed into an agrarian village.   This scene definitely seemed like it came from the World Made By Hand series.   There were chickens, goats, raised garden beds, lawns turned into corn patches, walls around the neighborhood and what appeared to be a common area in the cul-de-sac.   The hood of a car was turned into a planter, which I thought was a nice touch.

I think that those of us who are into the world of preparedness would see these images and just think it’s kind of cool, accepting that these kinds of things could happen and if they did, you would just have to roll with the punches.   I would think that images of cars only having value as plant receptacles, familiar cityscapes in various states of disrepair, McMansions grown over with vines and lawns turned into corn patches might be a little unsettling to people who haven’t thought much about these kinds of things but might start contemplating the frailty of the modern world during the course of the show.  Certainly things like airplanes falling out of the sky is a chilling prospect.

The narrator describes the world as having mostly gone over to militias and/or criminals.   Shortly into the episode, a band of soldiers representing the government of the “Monroe Republic” enter the village looking for one of the inhabitants, Ben Matheson.   Ben’s son takes a stand against the soldiers and it turns into a fight with the soldiers getting the upper-hand.   They kill Ben, they take his son (Danny) into custody and as Ben is dying he tells his daughter Charlie to go find his brother Miles in Chicago.    So apparently there’s some kind of story developing involving an underground organization against the “Monroe Republic”, which appears to be a tyrannical regime.   They also establish that there’s some sort of personal connection between Monroe and Miles,  having served in the Marine Corps together (by the way, nice lack of regulation haircuts during the flashback, NBC).

There’s also a complicated love interest brewing between Charlie and Nate, some young guy in the militia they encountered in the woods who appears to have twisted loyalties.   There’s also tension between Charlie and Maggie, Ben’s girlfriend or wife.   Danny ends up stumbling upon some lady who appears to belong to the same secret organization as Miles after escaping (and then getting recaptured) from the soldiers.

So far my opinion is that the show looks like a cool concept, but I bet the subplots are going to get even more ridiculous as it progresses.    My work schedule (and lack of the Tivo thing) doesn’t make it easy to follow these kinds of shows, but if I’m home I’d watch it.

Here’s a few of my observations/thoughts so far:

–  When the soldiers came looking for Ben, my first reaction was that their leader looked remarkably like Barack Obama (maybe ten years from now).   I got a chuckle out of this and I’m not sure if this was intentional or not to have the face of government oppression be so similar to our president.

–  I think the fact that this show is on reflects that a lot of people can sense that something’s wrong with the world.   I don’t think they would’ve made a show like this in say, 1997 when the economy was roaring and the USA was clearly at the top of the world.   I think network TV (and most mainstream outlets) are more reactive to what’s going on in the world than truly being at the forefront of creativity.  Surely they see that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world and people are starting to look for answers and explanations.   I still haven’t seen Doomsday Preppers, but I imagine that Revolution is kind of jocking the buzz that Doomsday Preppers created in mainstream circles.    I’ve definitely seen a lot more talk about issues of preparedness/survival in the past couple of years, be it the “zombie apocalypse”, ads and increased availability for long-term storage food, blogs on the subject, talk of economic collapse, increase in talk about precious metals and so on.

– I always hate it when people get too hung up on “that’s so unrealistic!” when dealing with works of fiction, but I thought it was kind of strange that most people in the show looked like they just pulled their clothes out of the washer and dryer now in 2012.   You would think that after 15 years of not having the same kind of textile industry and living an agrarian lifestyle any clothes from the abundant-energy era would be completely tattered and torn.   In the beginning of the show there were some people in more primitive clothing but the clean shaves, clean clothes, nice teeth and neat haircuts seemed a little off given the back story.    Oh well, write a good story and I’ll let it slide.

– I think a lot of people already in the preparedness world will probably scoff at this show, as they did Doomsday Preppers.   Yeah, so far it looks a little goofy – I’ll definitely concede that.   However, I do think that these shows will do some good by getting some people who otherwise wouldn’t think about these kinds of things to really start to consider preparedness scenarios and just maybe start to action.     Just like anything else in life, mainstream society will stumble across something, it’ll be in the national consciousness if only for a few minutes, a lot of people will jump in, society will move on to something else, a lot of people will jump out and then at the end of the day there will be more people standing in than there were before the mainstream stumbled upon it.   In other words, something like this could lead to more people taking an interest in preparedness and sustainability.   I consider that a good thing – the more people who think like us, the better off the world would be in the event of some kind of calamity.  I also think that the more people who accept that things could go south for us one way or another, the more likely we are as a society to make the kind of changes we need to steer clear of man-made catastrophes.  I don’t think that Revolution in itself is going to cause a, uh, revolution but I think it will bring some people our way once everything is said and done.   It’s up to us that are already of this mindset to be there to provide accurate information, guidance and solutions to the people that truly come to look for it.   We can certainly do it better than NBC’s writers can.


Again, I don’t think my schedule (and lack of Tivo) will allow me to keep up with the show, but I’ll tune in when I can.   We’ll see what comes of it.   Hopefully it at least gets mainstream society to start asking “what if…?” and more imporantly, “what can I do about it?”


  • Rottenclam

    This show is, of course, completely awful. You’re write-up of it, Ryan, definitely seeks out any silver linings that can be found. With that said, of course I’m going to keep watching it. Furthermore, my girlfriend (who normally turns up her nose at anything survivalist-related) seems to already be obsessed with this show.

    I agree with a lot of your observations above. Incidentally, the bad guy militia leader that is ripping off Barack’s look is one of the main bad guys from the show Breaking Bad (and he is awesome in that show).

    The costumes that just came out of the washer and dryer continue the “Lost” style of production. A lot of Lost viewers had the same bone to pick with that show. Of course Revolution and Lost share some writers / producers, so it makes sense that people without facilities would magically have the same form-fitting-clothes fairy visiting their camp every night.

    Fully agreed on the networks coming late to the party with a survivalist-oriented show. They’re so lame. Not that the cable channels are *that* much better (speaking of which – when is “The Colony” coming back???).

    Oh well. I suppose if it gets more people into survivalism, that is a good thing.

  • Ryan

    I’m terrible with current TV shows. I work a rotating schedule on the night shift and most of my TV watching happens between 9-10:30pm and it’s usually reruns. I’ve never actually seen an episode of Lost. I guess I can see why they would have all of the characters look fresh and clean on TV instead of looking like they stumbled out of a medieval village – I’d rather look at two attractive heroines than a couple of beat-up wenches wearing gunny sacks or something.

    I thought the worst case of the form-fitting-clothes fairy was the guy in the woods (Nate?) wearing a completely clean bright blue shirt after apparently being out there for a little while…or maybe the unfaded AC/DC shirt.

    I imagine the show will be another flash-in-the-pan kind of thing, but hopefully it gets some people at least thinking and talking either way. We’ll see. The worst that can happen is that we suffer through a mediocre show that’s probably the best thing on in its time slot anyways.

  • Rottenclam

    4 episodes in, and this TV show is beyond bad. I mean it is seriously friggin’ terrible.

    I would like to enter into evidence some books that you recently read (and reviewed), Ryan, by James Howard Kuntsler – “World Made by Hand” and “Witch of Hebron”. These two novels also take place 20+ years after the ‘lights go out’ and they are far superior to this beyond-crappy TV show. In fact, I would say that they are living proof that you can make great stories and develop very interesting characters around this large plot.

    On the other hand, Revolution is everything that is wrong with TV. It panders to the dumbest kind of viewer by containing stupid cliffhangers, predictable plots, unlikeable characters, and silly flashbacks in every episode.

    I hope Revolution is cancelled soon with extreme prejudice. Of course, I’ll keep watching…but only because I’m desperate for anything post-apocalyptic / survivalist in nature. Just because I’m desperate though doesnt mean that I cant call a spade a spade. I mean, this show truly is dogshit. Hopefully it dies a painful and twisted death – where Hollywood careers are ruined, studios are bankrupted, and the last faithful members of its viewing audience are left feeling resentful and cheated.

  • Ryan

    Haha, yeah, I tuned in to the third episode and completely lost interest a few minutes later. I think I’ll be doing something else when the fifth episode comes on.

    I think the difference between Kunstler’s novels and this is that the characters and story seemed secondary to the overall setting in his books – the situation and circumstances of the future make the story what it is. The characters and storyline for the most part were still good – I liked the Billy Bones character and the fact that most of the protagonists were fairly average people (I suppose “antiheroes”), not like other survivalist literature that always has some kind of Rambo character that saves the day.

    With Revolution, it seems like they’re just using the post-apocalyptic world as a different venue to repackage the same shit, like they do over and over again. I think if the social/political climate were a little different, they would have made this story line in space, the wild west, underwater, an inner-city, China, wherever. I don’t think they have enough respect/interest in the setting of the story to make that a stand-alone aspect of it like in the World Made By Hand series.

    Last week I read Kunstler’s “State of Emergency”, a non-fiction book. It was pretty good and rained on a lot of parades. It’s kind of interesting to hear some of these things from someone who is on the political left instead of the right/libertarian angle where most of it comes from.

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