I’m reviewing the new TV show Revolution because it’s basically a YA dystopian. Improbable apocalypse? Check: all “electricity” goes out, which apparently means all cars instantly stop in their tracks, among other things. 15 years later, we have our YA protagonist:
Katniss Charlie, chafing in her village and crack shot with a crossbow. When her father is killed and brother Danny taken by the militia — men on horseback, only ones allowed to carry guns, led by mysterious warlord, you know the drill — Charlie sets off to find her uncle Miles in the big bad city of Chicago.
Because this is TV rather than an actual YA novel, her sidekicks are adults (and Charlie herself is about 21). There’s a British doctor (her dad’s lover) and a pudgy former Google millionaire. Along the way they’re joined by Nate, hottie bowhunter and probable love interest. Meanwhile, Danny has escaped his captors and is having an adventure of his own.
(Up until this point, just about everything I’ve said was clear from the ads, or from having watched TV before. Here be SPOILERS.)
From the ads it looked like Charlie had a Special Destiny because her father knew something about why the lights went out. He has some sort of magical electricity necklace, which he passed off to Mr. Google before his confrontation with the militia. They want both Dad and Miles for their knowledge. But Charlie, and possibly Miles, don’t appear to know anything. That’s a YA trope too, of course — the previous generation keeping secrets from their kids and then dying before they get to fill them in on anything useful. But at least Charlie herself isn’t Special.
In fact, she’s sort of dumb. She bitchily tries to keep Dr. Girlfriend from coming on the roadtrip, even though, you know, doctor. She tells Nate where they’re going and why before knowing anything about him, and of course he turns out to be militia. So far she lacks any traits beyond a) intensity, b) spunk, and c) the aforementioned crossbow skillz. Her brother shares a and b, but instead of useful weapons training he has asthma. (He is a generically pretty blond boy with asthma, so at least he’s not an asthmatic dork stereotype?)
Fortunately some of the other characters seem more promising. Mr. Google might be more interesting than pudgy comic relief: he’s the character who stands in for us, who reminds us that this is our world. Miles is hilariously badass with a Mal Reynolds swagger, and he’s played by Bella’s dad, the only part of the Twilight movies that I can honestly say ruled. Danny gets rescued by a former algebra teacher who turns out to also have a magical electricity necklace… which turns on a networked command-line computer! And Mysterious Warlord turns out to be Miles’ former Army buddy! Dun dun DUNNNN.
Ooh, and hey — there are a few central characters of color in the pilot, and they aren’t even all bad guys! (So far as we know, though I’m hoping this is the sort of show where that isn’t immediately obvious.)
There’s a lot that’s by-the-book here (in both senses, heh). But I’ll admit it: I’m intrigued. There were a couple of genuine surprises in the pilot. They didn’t just drag things out for the sake of adventure or “suspense” (as evidenced by the fact that they actually got to Chicago in the first episode). I’m fully expecting to be eventually frustrated by a poorly thought-out post-apocalyptic world (how come Algebra Teacher of Destiny’s inhaler still worked after 15 years? why do everybody’s clothes fit so well? what do they use for birth control?), because if there’s one thing I’ve thought out pretty thoroughly, it’s post-apocalyptic worlds. Not sure how long I’ll keep watching, or keep reviewing. But I’m intrigued enough to watch the second episode.