Revolution: Season 1 represents one of the most ambitious concepts to be made as a television production in recent years. With producer J.J. Abrams in a production capacity with the series (as it is produced through his own production company Bad Robot), NBC placed bets on this show to become the new Lost of serialized storytelling on network television. The series own premise revolves around a global blackout in which all electricity disappears from the planet, putting everyone and everything into the darkness.
People everywhere (around the entire world) are in moments thrust into a different world without the components of our daily lives, which constantly rely upon electricity. How would our society and world function without any real ability to use electricity in any capacity? These are some of the questions Revolution asks in telling it's post-apocalyptic story.
It's just too bad the series wasn't executed better and with more creativity involved in forming this storyline. The show gets off to a bad start right away with a mediocre pilot episode from director Jon Favreau (Iron Man). It's hard to believe he directed the pilot. I have been mostly impressed with his directorial efforts to date but the pilot to this series will remain as a rare exception. The show gets off on a weird note with bad pacing (things accelerated way too quickly), and the story and script for the beginning of this series just wasn't on par with a impressive concept that sounded a lot more intriguing than how it was being executed in production.
Series creator Eric Kripke supposedly had his first conceptual idea for Revolution in realizing that there wasn't really anything out there in television which reminded him of a Lord of the Rings film and the traveling landscape element found within those stories. He thought from exploring traveling characters it could open up the doors to some interesting stories. So the creation of the show sort of stems from a sense of fantasy and adventure more-so than the apocalyptic aspect that is inherent in its premise.
Part of the problem with the show seems to be that it was jump-started without a lot of fine tuning going into the creation. The show seems to just jump right into things without really understanding what it is the series even wants to do with its characters. And, unfortunately, casting was not one of this series strong-suites. This series would have benefited greatly in having a much stronger cast attempting to carry the show through weak storylines and odd directing. Instead, all audiences will discover is that the cast is mostly good lookin', it's like everyone who worked on the show was part of a first-rate modeling agency before deciding acting would make a good career.
The acting is atrocious. I'm not sure what the casting director and filmmaker Jon Favreau saw within these actors, but the show was doomed from the start with the cast that was rallied up. Most director's who have any semblance of an idea of how to make a good film will say that casting is one of the most important things that you can possibly do in making something to achieve the best results. So what happened here? With the director of Iron Man, who rallied against the studio system for someone like Robert Downey Jr. to be cast in one of the most iconic parts in comic-book film history (despite a lack of interest from studio executives)?
Revolution feels like a show that was quickly cast based upon some simple pedigree of 'gigs'. I can't comprehend how so many poor actors were cast in such a high-budget, massive tent-pole production. It seems like all of the network executives want to find a way to discover a brand new success in serialized television to rival that of Lost, but you really can't re-create a "new" television phenomenon like Lost without putting forth effort in the casting.
For anyone to create a character-driven series within a serialized storytelling landscape, one must cast exceedingly well in order for audiences to stay interested in the show's characters -- the fundamental aspect of the show is based upon the audience's connections to the characters, despite the conceptual brilliance that may be inherent in the plot.
Of course, a good show also takes good writing and directing. This series is not so consistent in regards to those elements. The pilot set a bad tone for the rest of the series with an over-the-top element that seemed to carry throughout other episodes of the show. Other episodes kept that aspect around with cartoonish action, simplistic melodrama, and uninteresting camera angles. Nothing seemed too creative from the directorial stand-point even if this was generally more competent than the other production aspects.
The writing did this series no favors either. I mean, come on: who wanted a post-apocalyptic series which skips ahead fifteen or so years after the event happened? And then we discover everyone has simply reverted to sword fighting and weird gang-rule lands, with everything collapsed all around in government and societal structure. Seriously, when the power goes "missing" everything leads to the total collapse of all society? What about all of the years everyone lived without electricity-driving society? It certainly wasn't as advanced, but it similarly was structured to some degree. The creator of the series misses the mark here.
Then we have the flash-backs elements. This also just serves to remind me of how well the flashbacks on Lost were structured. With Revolution, flashbacks do not seamlessly blend together and are mostly done piecemeal with just a few minutes "here and there". These flashbacks are also structured in such a way that doesn't help the show.
One episode of Revolution might go to "15 Years Ago" to "10 Years Ago" to "5 Years Ago" and so forth. How is jumping around that much supposed to work? It makes things more confusing, both for audiences and for the writers making this series, to even keep track of the sequence of events. It also doesn't help with developing the back stories of the characters. This results in Revolution feeling more plot-based than character-based, even though creator Kripke has expressed an interest in the focus being otherwise, and on the characters.
I am also stunned by the score to this series. Stunned... by its awfulness. This series has a awful score. It's astonishingly bad. This is truly one of the worst scores for a show on television at the moment. It is completely lacking in a emotional core and it seems to seek out overemphasizing action-sequences more than anything else. Composer Christopher Lennertz is not that great in composing music, and the work done for Revolution seems completely uninspired.
Good music should aid a quality show by enhancing the emotion: from the acting, directing, and writing to all of the components overall. Great music, in my view, can make a show and seeks to reinforce all of the positive elements. A good score is about tapping into the human element, the sentimental aspect, with precision. It's about reinforcing the drama, the action, the suspense: you name it. I consider myself something of a score-connoisseur, and I cannot even fathom how bad the music was for Revolution. It completely fails to complement the series at all.
Revolution might be one of the most intriguing shows of the past television season, and yet the execution of the concept is wholly underwhelming. I was disappointed in almost every area of production. Some audiences might still find the series fun as a campy action-adventure show. However, as a character based show it doesn't work, and I expected more out of the concept. Revolution is surprisingly bland and generic television.
The 1.78:1 MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation is enormously impressive throughout. This is a stunning series from a technical standpoint. The cinematography is often first-rate with a great visual quality in terms of lighting, color, and clarity. It's an incredibly well-produced, modern-looking series. The transfer helps to reproduce the impressive visual clarity with encodings to appreciate. The bitrates are almost uniformly high and the consistency of the presentation is a element worth noting.
The audio presentation doesn't disappoint. Much to my surprise (especially considering my general lack of enthusiasm for the show), I was not let down by the audio presentation that Revolution has received. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is immersive with strong clarity, dynamics, and bass reproduction. The surround activity is notable in many instances. The resolution of the audio is outstanding throughout. Dialogue is easy to understand. Really, something was done right in the audio department. I have no complaints about the audio presentation for this show. It's not going to "blow you away" like a big-budget film can. However, this is a marvelous audio presentation for a modern television production.
There aren't as many supplements here as some might be expecting to find for a J.J. Abrams produced series. However, the inclusions are notable and should satisfy fans.
An In-Depth Look at the Revolution Pilot (14 min.) features interviews with cast, producers, crew, etc. about the creation of the show's first episode and it's beginning origins.
Revolution: Cast and Crew at PaleyFest 2013 (28 min.) is a sit-down discussion with the series creator Eric Kripke, executive producer J.J. Abrams, pilot director and producer Jon Favreau, and many members of the cast. Kripke discusses some of the show's weaknesses during the earlier episodes, J.J. Abrams mostly remains silent but reaffirming of his decision that his production company Bad Robot would produce the show, and most of the cast offers up commentary on their characters and some of their experiences while making the show.
Creating a Revolution (20 min.) is a behind-the-scenes look at the production elements of the series, from costumes, set design, makeup artists, sketch-work, and more with interviews to discuss the series aesthetic production aspects.
Webisodes: Five Different "Mini-Episodes" made for online viewing, which are not much more than extended deleted scenes, created specifically for the faithful audience who wanted to get to more of Revolution before a new episode.
Deleted Scenes are included for 11 episodes of the season and they are spread across each of the discs in the set.
Gag Reel (2 min.) is your typical TV inclusion of outtakes.
Revolution: Season 1 simply isn't that good. The storyline premise sounded promising. The behind the scenes crew brought together to work on the project made it sound like a large undertaking that could prove to provide great results. Yet the end result is a mediocre TV production without focus, poor performances, and uneven writing and directing. This is disappointing television that doesn't manage to become appointment fare. It is lacking a certain flair of magical 'gusto'.