TV Review: Revolution

TV Review: Revolution

The new sci-fi bringing clever thought to a world without power

By Mark HadleyThursday 14 Nov 2013TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

The Nine Network may be struggling in the ratings war but there’s hope a new show from the creator of Lost will help it turn the tables. But will Australians revel in a futuristic world where a global disaster means we can no longer use our iPhones?

iPhones are nowhere to be seen in the new sci-fi 'Revolution'

Revolution is the latest offering of cryptic storyteller J.J.Abrams and describes the fate of the US in the aftermath of four simple words: the power went off. In a space of minutes an unknown event renders useless every electrical and motorized object on the planet. People suddenly find themselves living in a world where the technologies that supported every day life are now defunct. Panic ensures and governments topple – but this isn’t where the story unfolds. 

Abrams cuts very swiftly to 15 years later where the US as we know it has been replaced by loose collections of largely agrarian societies. The only weapons that make sense are from the Middle Ages, but that hasn’t stopped sinister forces from trying to pilfer the remains of the old world and establish a new empire called the Republic of Monroe. In the midst of this we’re introduced to Charlotte Matheson, a skilled young woman whose father was a scientist in the last days before the blackout. He knew something about what caused the catastrophe but was killed by Monroe troops before he could pass it on. Now ‘Charlie’ is on the hunt to find her brother who has been kidnapped by the enemy. But you can rest assured the secrets her father held won’t stay buried with his body.

There have been a fair number of big budget science fiction productions in recent years that have sort to rediscover the formula that made Lost so compelling – Terra Nova, V, Fringe, Falling Skies, The Dome, to name a few. But the mysteries underpinning their storylines have either become indecipherable, unbelievable or uninspiring, resulting in small followings and cancelled seasons. However the producers of Revolution have managed to build a ratings success in the US by side-stepping some of their pitfalls. 

To begin with they’ve kept the plot very simple. You don’t need to know much more than ‘the power went off’ to understand what’s going on. There’s a little hinting at darker forces and complex explanations but that’s very much in the background. Writer Eric Kripke describes it as basically a ‘road movie’ focusing on Charlie’s journey to save what’s left of her family. And this is probably the series other great strength…

It’s been very easy to get lost in mystery television programs if you miss a few episodes or come in late. But Revolution’s simple plot design avoids ambiguity and focuses instead on family values. We’d like to believe that in a post apocalyptic world certain things will still persist, one being the basic building block of society. I find that to be an interesting phenomenon. Given the electronic rat-race we live in we might actually aspire to a life without Facebook or email – but not family. A world without God’s idea of a social structure – mum, dad, brothers, sisters – is the real Hell we’d fight to avoid. 

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Talk-back shows that champion the chattering classes – Q&A springs to mind – are forever suggesting that institutions like the traditional family have seen their day. Germaine Greer recently used the aforementioned ABC platform to suggest that marriage and family were institutions from which women desperately needed to escape. Charlie Matheson disagrees. And if the ratings continue to climb in Australia it would suggest that subconsciously the silent masses are less sure that God’s model needs reworking.


DISTRIBUTOR: The Nine Network
RELEASE DATE: Wednesdays, 8:30 PM