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'Revolution' Review: Swiss Family Ragnarok
EDITOR'S NOTE: Myself and some of the other Gonzogeek crew got to check out the pilot episode during Preview Night at Comic-Con back in July. Here's our review of the episode. This review contains SOME spoilers of the pilot episode, so read with caution.

If you grew up loving the derring-do of old Errol Flynn and Zorro movies, you're going to enjoy the pilot episode of "Revolution."

The culmination of the debut episode of the latest take on the post-civilization genre features a rather in-depth battle where Billy Burke hacks, slashes and ripostes his way through a gaggle of malevolent-minded militia. (See the attached picture, which you can find on the official Facebook page for the show.)

Even if such swordplay doesn't swash your buckle, there's a lot to like about NBC's new offering -- potentially, that is. The key is that this show determines what it wants to be, and develops its own identity.

Let's back up. "Revolution" creates a world where, all at once, every electronically powered device on Earth shuts down. Ice cream is left to melt in freezers. Cars stall out on the highway. Airplanes drop out of the sky. The story centers upon one family, and how they're able to survive in this brave new world. 

In short ... shit gets real. 

We then pick up 15 years after the Big Switch-Off. Cities have become overgrown wildlife preserves, and life -- in the United States -- has fragmented into a smorgasbord of small city-states and banana republics run by militias and dictators. The centerpiece of the story comes from the greater Chicagoland area, where we catch up with the family that's first introduced on the night the power goes out for good.

From there, the show does a good job establishing its major characters -- both good and bad -- and the key conflict in short order. It doesn't take long before the action picks up, the bodies start dropping and our protagonists have their quest in hand.

The main protagonist is Charlie -- the, in case you couldn't guess by the name, tomboyish daughter in the family central to the plot. A certain sequence of events forces her out into the big wide world armed only with a crossbow and a seemingly endless supply of pluck; along with the medicine woman of their town; and the teacher, who serves as the Falstaff of this little group. There's also am archer they happen upon during their adventures, who immediately stumbles into a kinda-sorta romance story with Charlie. 

My favorite of the characters, however, is bad-guy militia man Giancarlo Esposito, who brings the same sort of quiet menace to his role that he wielded to such excellent results on "Breaking Bad."

The big question coming out of the pilot episode isn't one of those created by the script writers. It's more... what type of show is this going to be? Right now it seems like a hodgepodge of some of the other sci-fi-type shows of recent years.

It's got both big, and smaller, mysteries like "Lost." Why did the power go off? Can it be restored? What's with the thumb drives? 

And, it's got major characters linked in a variety of ways -- which can lead down one of two roads, the well done (see "Lost") or the overwrought, continuity car crash (see every season of "Heroes" other than the first one). 

All in all, though, "Revolution" is worth checking out. Time will tell whether it catches on like "Lost"... or ends up on the sci-fi scrapheap with shows like "The Event."
Posted in: Television
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