The best TV shows have a message, a statement that gives you something to ponder, a lesson to teach. And sometimes, even bad TV has a message. Like Revolution, in which the message is 'only attractive people will survive the apocalypse. And they will have regular access to hot showers.'
Revolution looked really cool in the trailers. All the electricity fails at the same time, and the United States is thrown into complete anarchy. One man knows why the lights went out, but he is apparently not in much of a mood to do anything about it. Another man is a douchebag who has established a really mean government and runs around killing people. And in the middle of it all, there's a pretty girl who has a crosssbow and hardly ever bothers to use it.
The story is even really fun. See, the dickbag president guy outlaws guns so that only he will have them, so everyone has bows and swords. It's all swashbuckley, because the heroes have to get into swordfights and shoot arrows instead of just blasting everybody with firearms. The first episode has this really cool fight in a hotel where the lead bad-ass guy beats the stuffing out of, like, a dozen guys. And totally kills most of them.
There are all the elements of a classic Sunday matinee pulp serial. There's a rebellion against the bastards in the militia. There's a murdered father and a kidnapped brother. There's a lost uncle with a secret past. There's even a nerd, although that's not particularly Zorro-ish.
In fact, although I'm going to spend the last half of this review saying bad things about Revolution, I really am enjoying it. I love how they show nature recapturing the wilds of our nation. The action scenes are pretty exciting. The bad guys are despicable and the good guys are properly heroic, and while the show tends to be a little predictable, it's a fun ride.
OK, now the bad stuff. For starters, it's on NBC. I honestly don't know what possessed me to watch a show on a major network, especially a serial, because they all get cancelled before they can finish the story (except for Lost, which should be a good sign, because Revolution is also a JJ Abrams story). And networks refuse to hire any actors or actresses who couldn't quit their day jobs and be underwear models, so everybody on the show is absurdly, unbelievably good-looking.
When you're watching Revolution, you may be reminded of another apocalyptic show that's a hell of a lot of fun - The Walking Dead. And if you happen to be watching both shows, you'll see where Revolution makes all the mistakes that Walking Dead avoids. The characters in Revolution are ridiculously attractive, and always very clean. They also never get scarred - sure, they are terrifically violent, perpetually getting into knife fights or fisticuffs, and yet they all manage to avoid taking shots to the face. They also have no problem finding hair gel.
The story is equally sanitized. Moral dilemmas are few and far between. Good guys will always save the bad guys when they're hanging from the edge of the cliff. The heroes are very heroic. The bad guys are mustache-twirling madmen. Deaths are profound and, among people with lots of lines, very rare. Seriously, it's like the writers are actively avoiding watching The Walking Dead, for fear it would give them any good ideas.
So Revolution is five or six episodes along - enough to make an informed decision about whether it's watchable - and I am rolling my eyes in disbelief at least once a week. Sometimes more. So why am I still watching it? Simple - I have too much free time.
No, that's not it. I mean, I do have too much free time, and should really finish painting all these Warhammer Quest figures (the insurance gave me money for a replacement copy, but I couldn't find one that was painted). But I could watch something else, something smart and deep. But I watch Revolution because it's fun. That's it.
Yes, I can see all the stupid parts. Yes, the logical inconsistencies are almost painful. Yes, it's as shallow as a fourth-grader telling fart jokes. But sometimes, when my family is sitting around the living room eating take-out, it's fun to dial up some kid-friendly entertainment and let my mind take a vacation for an hour. Or really, more like 42 minutes - I DVR everything and just zip through the commercials.
Besides, not everything can be The Walking Dead. Can you imagine trying to eat a plate of chicken fried rice while you were watching decaying people chewing chunks out of people who get to bathe once a year? Sometimes, it's OK for television to be dumb, if it's fun. You won't find yourself at the edge of your seat when you watch Revolution. You won't wonder if the hero girl is going to get killed. You won't go to work the next day and excitedly ask your co-worker, 'so, did you see it last night?' because it will promptly leave your head the next time you see strawberry taffy. You'll have fun for as long as it takes to get to the end credits, and maybe be reminded of watching old Three Musketeers serials while you mowed through a bucket of popcorn.
If you want to get caught up on Revolution, you can probably find the first several episodes on Hulu or OnDemand, or maybe even at the NBC website. It's still in the first season, so you can't find it on Netflix or anything. It's worth your time, if you have too much time in the first place.