Revolution (2012) – Episode 1: “Pilot” – Written by Eric Kripke; Directed by Jon Favreau.
Guest Review by Eric Woodard
Overlord’s Note: I haven’t had time to watch, let alone write about, NBC’s new JJ Abrams show, REVOLUTION, but one of Atomic Anxiety’s frequent commentators, Eric Woodard, had plenty to say about the show over on Facebook and he’s graciously allowed me to re-post his thoughts here.
All right, I can’t not say something about this damn show. I’ve been trying, but it’s just eating away at my brain and I have to get this out of my system.
I watched the pilot of NBCs new JJ Abrams work, REVOLUTION, the other night and I wish I could turn back time and turn off the TV instead. For those who give two shits about such things, ahead be spoilers. You have been warned.
I can’t for the life of me understand why the show is getting such glowing reviews. The acting was, at best, average. The overall premise, a world which has suffered a massive technology rollback, isn’t anything new. And the way they did it… Ugh. That will be what really kicks this rant into high gear. As an educated human being, I found far, far too many plot holes and nonsense in this pile of Hunger Games meets Jericho mash-up to continue suspending disbelief even a tiny bit. Let me delve into a few of them here, again, just to get it off my chest:
- If something mysteriously ‘turned off’ all the electricity in the world, as well as the ability to draw current from a battery (something which has worked since ancient Babylonians used crude batteries to electroplate ceremonial items, and something you can do by sticking wires into a friggin potato) why are we not all dead? Our brains work on electrical impulses, and it’s an electrical impulse that keeps our heart pumping in rhythm.
- Can electricity no longer be generated by spinning a magnet around coiled conductive metal? Is this why no power plant works anymore? Wouldn’t this imply a fundamental breakdown of electromagnetism on a scale that would have destroyed … the universe? At the very least it would have some rather bleak implications for our survival on earth.
- We see that oxidation reactions still work. Fires burn all over the place. Oil and gunpowder still combust. Why are there no powered vehicles? Earth shouldn’t have been dragged back to the Dark Ages of feudal Europe here… We made it well into the 1800s before electricity was ‘a thing’, and still managed to build a continent-spanning nation, and trans-continental railroad.
- Where are all the steam engines? Even if you say that all the people who knew how to build them (or read about how to build them in books) died at the moment of the blackout there were still thousands of working steam engines, including steam locomotives and steam powered riverboats sitting around. If fire still works, then it should still boil water. If water still boils, then steam power still works. Steam engines drove the factories of the industrial revolution…
- At the moment of the blackout (which seemed to roll down the street in a nice, orderly wave, didn’t it?) every airplane we see just falls right out of the sky, straight down, as though grabbed by the hand of god and dropped. In addition to electricity, did the concepts of forward momentum and aerodynamics also stop momentarily? I understand that modern aircraft rely heavily on electronic systems to stay aloft, but even without them simple Newtonian physics dictates that if they were traveling several hundred miles per hour pre-blackout, they would continue along in their direction of travel afterward as well. If they’re going to crash land, it would be in a forward direction.
- Why in the hell were the militia men using colonial-era muzzle-loading muskets? It’s been 15 years since the world went dark. The one thing this country shouldn’t have run out of in that time is modern firearms. And even if you assume that everyone went crazy and used all the bullets in the first few months, you can still pick up the shell casings and reload them with fresh powder and slugs. Realistically though, there should be millions of rounds of ammo available to a small local army, as well as ample modern weapons platforms to use them with.
- Where the hell did all the swords come from? I know all those fancy swords with the brass knuckle grips look cool for TV and all, but lets step back for just a moment and think about this… 1) Those grips are horribly impractical. They would be difficult to draw quickly in an emergency situation and anything that twists the blade sufficiently runs the risk of breaking or severing every finger on that hand. 2) Real sword-fighting (with these heavy, slashing blades, not fencing) is an art that takes a long time to master and hasn’t been taught anywhere outside of random hobbyist groups for centuries. There’s no way that many people have mastered it. 3) Sword making is a notoriously difficult, and nearly dead craft. If there are enough skilled swordsmiths to outfit a small army just in the upper Midwest of this country, then they would have been better served using their mastery of metallurgy on almost anything other than sword-making. And if you have to have them make weapons, why not have them crafting high grade bullets, repairing/recasting spent brass into new shell casings, and maintaining firearms?
- The reason Miles gives for why Monroe shouldn’t get access to the ability to turn the lights back on makes no sense. Yes, he could theoretically have aircraft again (assuming that ‘hand of god’ thing above doesn’t still apply), but as for tanks and rockets … he already has them. Steam, and even diesel engines should still work, as they don’t require electricity to operate. Somebody should be able to figure out how to stick a working motor into an existing tank. The turret controls would have to be reconfigured, I’m sure, but that technology has existed for centuries. And we have already established that burning fuel and gunpowder still works, so you could both fire rockets/missiles and tank/mortar shells. They wouldn’t have modern guidance systems in them, but we didn’t have those in WW2 either, and those still seemed to kill people just fine.
- Speaking of Monroe, nothing about him makes sense. We learned that at the time of the blackout he was an army sergeant who was apparently anonymous enough at his own base that only one of the 20-odd MPs guarding the front gate vaguely knew him. He also comes across as about as charismatic as one of my cat’s hairballs. How did this somewhat creepy looking man wind up rising through the chain of command to take over control of a large part of the upper Midwest? And what kind of douche has a tattoo of his own name and ‘logo’ on his own forearm?
- The only functioning electrical devices are little keychain-fob flashdrive looking things that can magically provide electricity to anything else in their immediate vicinity? Really? So Nicola Tesla was really onto something after all then I guess? This leads to several followup head-scratchers, such as (but not limited to): 1) If you’re going to have it power a computer, wouldn’t you be better off using a newer model with solid-state drives and fewer moving parts prone to breakdown? 2) Wouldn’t hiding the computer behind a door with a ton of locks on it just draw suspicion? In a world with no power but lots of stuff that used to work just lying around, isn’t plain sight a better place to hide technology? 3) If some secret cabal of people with electricity exists, why wouldn’t they have at least gotten together and built themselves a ‘modern’ city-state/Ivory Tower utopia (or power-mad police state, I don’t know, something)?
- If society was going to break down into feudalism, wouldn’t you expect more of a landed gentry group of 1%-ers to have become the ruling powers? I mean, lets assume that everyone overnight lost all faith in the existing governments and paper money. Roughly, what, four, five thousand years of human history since at least the time of ancient Egypt seems to pretty strongly indicate that gold and other precious metals would have become the main real currency, with barter systems, backed by gold-rich local lords, filling in the trade gaps. So, if society is going to fall apart, one would expect that if it will rebuild on a Dark Ages model then it will do so around those individuals who have large sums of gold to throw around to buy protection (for themself and those willing to follow them), property, and an arm for enforcement powers? If our villain thus far is sitting on any kind of vast pile of wealth we have yet to see any evidence of it (and I don’t intend to give them a chance to show me, either…)
Okay, got that all out. I feel better now. And yes, I know it’s just a damn TV show, and I’m really, really over-thinking it. I’m all for creative science fiction and all, but it really seems like the writers weren’t even trying when it came to things like ‘logic’, which bugs me.
Thanks for skimming through this without really paying attention, and getting to the end here.