Here in ol' Cackalacky, the buzz around NBC's new futuristic action drama Revolution is that it's being shot in Wilmington.
And just in time, too—The CW's One Tree Hill closed up shop in Wilmington earlier this year after nine seasons, so there's bound to be plenty of fangirls and -boys out there waiting for the next Chad Michael Murray to show up at Port City Java for an autograph signing.
They might find that next teen-dream star in the cast of Revolution, a highly hyped collaboration between J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau and former Supernatural show runner Eric Kripke, but so far, it's one old-timer who's stealing the screen. That would be Giancarlo Esposito, who was last seen straightening his tie on AMC's Breaking Bad as a brooding militiaman. And there's only so much he can do.
Currently streaming online at nbc.com/revolution, the Revolution pilot officially premieres at 10 p.m. on Sept. 17, and if anything entices you back for more, it will be the plot and premise. It sure ain't the acting and dialogue.
Over at Comic-Con this year, the buzz around Revolution (according to Entertainment Weekly) was that it's a lot like the long-canceled CBS series Jericho (it kind of is, though not as good) or maybe Fox's Terra Nova (canceled this year), with a touch of AMC's Walking Dead (they wish). And oh, yeah, ABC's Lost. Of course people are going to bring up Lost—because of Abrams. If he lives to direct a miniseries about Christ and the Devil in the Judean Desert for 40 days and nights, people are going to ask if it's "like Lost."
In the case of Revolution, it's "yes" and "no" to the Lost question. Yes, there's a big mystery behind the worldwide, unexplained loss of electrical power in the near future of Revolution, which sends the smart folks out to the country to rough it. Making matters worse, armed militias extort "taxes" from them and occasionally "arrest" somebody—not without a fight, of course.
But no, we're apparently not being teased into thinking there's some cosmic answer to all this human suffering. (Wouldn't it be a kick, though, if Abrams revealed at the end that everybody's dead?) One character who knows the deal is Ben Matheson (played by Tim Guinee), a Chicago family man connected to top-secret military projects. He comes home early one day with that let's-get-outta-Dodge look on his face, to the alarm of his wife Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell, who played Dr. Juliet Burke on Lost).
Before you know it, buzz-buzz, out go the lights. Everywhere. Fade to crackling opening credit.
Fast-forward to some years hence, and Ben is one of those smart country folks, getting by as best he can with two tough, rambunctious and dreamy teens. You know how kids with crossbows are—always getting into trouble, never listening to dad!
Naturally, Ben's hunky son Danny (Graham Rogers) is a whiz with his arrows, and his sister Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) can put up a fight, too. That comes in handy when the bad man rides in, on horseback, complete with foreboding cheese music.
As militia leader Captain Tom Neville, Esposito chews it up a lot more than when he played meth boss Gus Fring on Breaking Bad with such subtle, seething restraint. This isn't Breaking Bad writing. This is heavy-handed exposition, predictable close calls, dramatic death speeches and one-against-a-dozen swordfights that would make Douglas Fairbanks Jr. giggle.
Besides Neville ("I'm in a mood"), the only person who isn't a stock character in your repressed memories of bland TV is Aaron (Zak Orth), a portly nerd in a swag AC/DC shirt. As comic relief, he's kind of a cross between Zach Galifianakis and Woody Allen, with lines like: "You know, a walk like this, I counted on sore, but not the chafing issues."
Will Aaron find some aloe for his chafing? Stay tuned ... (buzzzzz ... zzzap.)
This article appeared in print with the headline "Out go the lights."