I stopped watching TV this summer.
Well, I stopped watching real TV—you know, anything with characters and a plot—and I flipped on the Food Network. I’ve seen hamburgers and pancakes made in almost every state, I know a spice that numbs your tongue and was illegal until recently, and I know where I want to eat if I go to Montreal.
First, what is with killing people off in the first episode? A show you’ve never heard of (Outcasts) did this, spending half the pilot focused on one family: the mother dies almost instantly, the father kills himself, and they make you think the son is dead long enough for you to find out he is not and then you never see him again.
Revolution does the same thing. We see a mother talking on the phone as her young daughter and infant son watch TV. Their father comes in, frantic. “It’s going to turn off and it will never, ever turn back on,” he says. He downloads something onto a USB and sticks it in this strange silver necklace.
The power goes off.
Move forward fifteen years. Ben (the dad) is the patriarch of an elemental community. He walks out of his house (“Hi Caleb!”) and everybody is tending a garden or herding sheep or growing herbs in the shells of old cars. Little girls run around wearing long dresses and boots (because apparently they already know how to mill their own cotton) and the hot girls still get to wear pants. Oh, and everybody has perfect hair.
In less than ten minutes we learn that Ben’s wife has died and he has shacked up with another woman (as Charlie a.k.a. Charlotte a.k.a. the daughter asks, “What, she hops into bed with you and that makes her mom?”). But it’s okay, because in five more minutes, karma bites Ben in the ass—or rather, shoots him in the chest. Toodles.
Oh wait! He has some important last words for Charlie. “My brother Miles” (choke) “is in Chicago. He can get Danny.” (Oh BTW, Danny is Charlie’s brother—he was taken prisoner by the militia because he pulled a gun crossbow on them because they were going to take his father away because they thought Ben had some special knowledge about something. Anyways.) “You need to find Miles” (grimace).
Of course Charlie needs to find Miles. For one, her nickname is “Charlie.” Masculine nickname obviously equals tough. She is MADE for an adventurous quest, and can probably handle it better than some boy. (Like Danny, who’s all “How ’bout we actually go hunting for once?” while Charlie’s all “Let’s explore this abandoned, capsized bus.”) For two, she handles stress really well. The only time she cries about her dad dying is when she tries to emotionally manipulate Uncle Miles into joining in the hunt for Danny.
CHARLIE: My mom is dead. My dad (emotional pause) is DEAD. And God knows what they’re doing to Danny right now. So you are going to help me get him back.
MILES: Why’s that.
CHARLIE (passionately): Because we’re family.
MILES: Family? Kid, I don’t even know you.
And here, may I just say, is possibly the most amazing response that has ever been crafted:
CHARLIE: YEAH, YOU’RE RIGHT.
Sarcasm. The sword of teenage angst.
Speaking of swords, point number two. This involves Uncle Miles, whom Charlie, her evil stepmother, and their nerdy friend Aaron (k seriously, what is with these biblical names?) have found, after a short walk, in the city of Chicago. He is running a bar in an old hotel. He does the whole I’m-not-helping-you-because-I’d-rather-drink-myself-to-death thing, and when he finds out the militia are coming after him he does the whole I’m-still-not-coming-because-I’d-rather-drink-myself-to-death-so-GET-OUT thing.
Charlie leaves, all pouty. “Let’s just go!”
Cut back to the militia swarming the hotel. They fan out into an indoor courtyard, in the middle of which rises a staircase. Miles is on it. “Come on down,” says Nate (who, by the way, Charlie spotted by a waterfall and they had INSTANT chemistry—wait… that may have been no one ever in this show—but anyways it’s complicated because he’s one of the bad guys) “we don’t want to hurt you.”
But, um, they do. Cue: pretty wicked swordfight.
Which leaves me wondering. What is a self-professed lazy alcoholic doing waiting around for a SWORDFIGHT? He had at least the entire afternoon to prepare for these guys and he runs a bar. I was expecting a pyrotechnics display at least, or some sort of trap where he would just say “Yippie ki-yay, mother—” and light a match and BOOM. No more bad guys.
I mean sure, I’m convinced: you know how to handle a blade. Good job at showing me how primitive everything is and how you have to use swords and bows and arrows (because guns are dependent on electricity to work?). I’m just asking you to use your intelligence, man. Use your MacGyver skills!
Point three, which is more of a question than a point. Has anyone else noticed the trend of shows that deal with some sort of strange or cataclysmic supra-natural event? The biggest and best one I can think of is Lost, which operated on an even higher (supernatural) plane. Then there were alien invasions (V), then strange “natural” phenomena (FlashForward), and now a permanent EMP. It’s like we keep down-shifting into things that are closer and closer to real possibilities.
But a permanent electrical shutdown seems impossible right?
Apparently it is, because the strange silver necklace? Another person has one.
And they can connect to the Internet.