Is Revolution worth watching?

At the Post Carbon Institute, Tod Brilliant has decided to follow the new weekly TV drama, Revolution. Why?

1. PCI Population Fellow William Ryerson has spent decades advocating, with great success, the Sabido Method, a methodology for designing and producing serialized dramas on radio and television that can win over audiences while imparting prosocial values.

2. The premise is irresistible: Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working?

I had been avoiding Revolution, but I broke down last night and watched the pilot with On Demand. Revolution is produced by JJ Abrams, who co-created Lost, directed the Star Trek reboot, produced Cloverfield, all of which were very good, and has credits for a lot of shows and films I haven’t seen. But the promos didn’t grab me.

I got a kick out of Bugs Bunny’s panicked expression as the power flickers out. Then, a long line of automobiles lurch to a stop, and their headlights go out, indicating that battery-derived electricity has stopped working. (I was waiting for Tom Cruise to drive past everyone, but that was EMP.)

Captain Sullenberger managed to glide his dead engine jet smoothly into the river, but in this scenario we see several jet planes tumble from the sky, so even the mechanically-operated rudders and flaps have stopped working. But as they go down, their red and green right-of-way lights are still lit on each wingtip, so what is powering those lights? Obviously the TV crew wants viewers to see them clearly as they crash, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

PCI describes the situation fifteen years later:

Humans have left the cities for the countryside to live in communal villages or prey on one another. The good guys sport henleys and hoes. The bad ones also wear henleys, but they ride horses and carry swords. Gun ownership is banned, effectively preventing any protection of property or crops (Transition Towns take note. Hah.). The post-carbon women are smokin’ and the men have Tom Brady jaws and stomachs of steel. In a barter economy, hair stylists seem to be highly valued.

I laughed at a rusted-out Prius being used as a planter. But then things got predictable or unbelievable, or predictably unbelievable.

The small village has a flimsy stockade, but apparently they don’t bother posting lookouts because it is a complete surprise when several dozen of the militia just walk in the open gate. No, “Hey militia coming! Hide your women and children!” The quietly menacing commander of the militia (above) just happens to look a lot like Barack Obama. That’ll win over one sort of audience. I guess racism blinked out with electricity because as I recall, once things went bad in New Orleans it was open season on black people caught in white neighborhoods. Maybe that’s a prosocial value, but if a black actress can play Guinevere, I suppose we can have black actors playing sadistic villains.

Though most carry crossbows, swords or machetes, some of the militia have guns. With all the firearms now available, it would have been more logical had all the militiamen been heavily-armed, very young, as in a Joseph Kony-style army, and casually violent enough to kill everyone in the communal village while taking the one person they wanted. Of course that would make for a short, bloody episode.

Traveling across a post-electric countryside is ridiculously easy in this show. Two women and a pudgy guy see nothing wrong with building a campfire in hostile country. They don’t bother to post watch, either. They probably never saw Daniel Boone, or any western frontier movie, when they were growing up.

I was describing the show to a friend, and I told him I suspected it would be like Terra Nova, or even the old serial version of Planet of the Apes, or a hundred other TV shows. You will follow the same group of people getting into and getting out of melodramatic situations week after week. Whatever caused the loss of electricity is just a macguffin. We won’t learn anything, and nothing will really change.


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9 responses to “Is Revolution worth watching?”

  1. trkingmomoe says :

    Reblogged this on Once Upon a Paradigm and commented:
    DD will like this. He is having trouble posting on wordpress.


  2. cmaukonen says :

    This is closer I think to what would transpire.

    When nuclear fireballs crisped Orlando and the power plants serving Timucuan County, refrigeration stopped, along with electric cooking. The oil furnaces, sparked by electricity, died. All radios were useless unless battery powered or in automobiles. Washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, fryers, toasters, roasters, vacuum cleaners, shavers, heaters, beaters-all stopped. So did the electric clocks, vibrating chairs, electric blankets, irons for pressing clothes, curlers for hair.
    The electric pumps stopped, and when the pumps stopped the water stopped and when the water stopped the bathrooms ceased functioning.
    Not until the second day after The Day did Randy Bragg fully understand and accept the results of the loss of electricity. Temporary loss of power was nothing new in Fort Repose. Often, during the equinoctial storms, poles and trees came down and power lines were severed. This condition rarely lasted for more than a day, for the repair trucks were out as soon as the wind abated and the roads became passable.

    From Pat Frank. He shows a world that immediately returns to the late 19th century.


    • Donal says :

      Do you have a link, or is it paper?
      Star’s Reach is along those lines, too.


      • cmaukonen says :

        It’s from a short Sci Fi novel written in 1958 called Alas Babylon.

        Though I disagree with some of his premises as well. When Alessandro Volta discovered the principal of the battery and Joseph Henry the electromagnet, the generation of electricity came almost immediately.

        People were using electricity long before Tesla had figured out how to transport it long distances and generate it using turbines.

        In fact it was being used to one extent or another in rural areas before TVA and other projects brought house current there.

        Vacuum tube radios called “Farm Radios” were available to those with out
        line current that worked off of batteries. As well as some appliances.

        Home generation of low voltage electricity using windmills on farms and in rural areas was available.

        Electric cars were widely available long before the internal combustion engine became practical.

        All of this before our high tech/green interests.

        “I don’t know Doc, Frank can be pretty resourceful when he puts his mind to it.” – Mister Roberts


      • cmaukonen says :

        The point am trying to make is that people don’t do these things or learn how is because they don’t have to. The motivation is not there.

        But once this situation changes, this dynamic changes.

        Hell…momoe probably know more about setting up blogging software than I do because she is motivated to do so.


    • Donal says :

      Not a bad read. The parts after The Day remind me of World Made By Hand, with upstanding folk getting by, trash sinking into squalor. A bit judgmental.


      • cmaukonen says :

        It was an independent study assignment for my 12 grade social studies class. I got into a discussion about the possibility of a nuclear war with the USSR and the possible out comes. I was assigned to read the book and give a report on it.


  3. saywhatumean2say says :

    Hi Donal, I haven’t particularly wanted to watch this either and now I guess I really won’t. Or at least until I CAN’T find anything else. dru


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