Or, Electricity: The Tie that Binds
When commercials for the new J.J. Abrams show Revolution started over the summer, I was unimpressed. And then I was amused. The husband was, too. We wondered from these tidbits of post-apocalyptic primetime teasers why the power would go out and the world would revert to the middle ages and stay there. We wondered how suburbanites the country over would learn how to use ancient weapons and be forced to use them to defend themselves against all other PTA members in a daily battle for the survival of the fittest (which reminds me—how did the asthmatic kid survive so long?). We laughed at the seeming absurdity of it all but decided, when channel surfing tonight, to watch the pilot and give it a fair shake. And that’s about all it’s going to get from us, except for accolades as the funniest show we’ve seen passed off as a drama.
Revolution begins with a nonchalant male narrator, explaining in casual vernacular how “it used to be.” When the scene cuts to how things are “now” with the power out—children dressed in colonial garb, herding sheep through what once were manicured front lawns—my husband and I gathered that “now” is a world in which the Amish have become an economic powerhouse. But there’s no mention of them. Apparently everyone else has died, except for the 30 people who are now chasing each other across once-urban Illinois in a quest to…restore electricity? Keep the power out forever? Avenge deaths? Who knows?
The evil militias, a result of fallen governments, are clearly renegades and not constitutionally bound like real militias in this country. I hadn’t realized the Constitution ran on electricity but apparently it does. When the lights go out, so does the law of the land. Which, I guess, explains why society has gone to hell. Without electricity, we the people are nothing. In fact, the death of the main character’s mother, which she carries as a chip on her shoulder and references every eighth line throughout the show, is never explained further; I can conclude nothing but that the woman died of electricity deprivation. What a way to go.
Even though we have seen the show now and we understand all these things clearly, there were some things my husband and I couldn’t figure out. Things like:
- How come all the cars stopped driving at the same time but their lights turned off in aesthetically pleasing order on the highway?
- How come the ice cream was already melted when the little girl started to eat it, three minutes after the power went out?
- Who invited the Old Spice guy and his horse? And where did he get his leather chain mail?
- When did everyone learn to ride horses and shoot crossbows?
- How come half the people are dressed like they are from Middle Earth and the other half are dressed from the Target clearance rack?
- More importantly, how do they keep their brights so bright and their whites so white? Heaven knows there was no advance in sartorial technology between the Civil War and Maytag’s inception, so how DO they DO IT?? My mind can’t fathom.
Despite being able to quote-predict the show twice in ten minutes, I admit I was wrong when I assumed the militia was going to shoot the son Patriot-style the second the kid showed up with his Nerf bow to defend his father. But I did call the Amistad rip-off when MacGyver dug the nail of out of the wood with his fingernails to pick the lock on his handcuffs.
Know what really blew my mind? That the power has been out for 15 years, there is no glass in the windows, but the candles from the Pottery Barn catalog fall collection have arrived and are burning bright across the whole first floor of the house in the first half hour. Clearly conservation only extends as far as the corn field on the cul de sac. None of this going to bed when it’s dark business, there’s free shipping on orders of 24 candles or more!
All I can conclude is that you can’t make this stuff up. Oh that’s right, they didn’t, the took it from every other post-apocalyptic, Armageddonesque film and book produced in the last generation, downgraded the story line, subbed in grade-C actors with inexplicable accents, and put it on prime time. It was a Monday-night SNL version of Hunger Games, The Patriot, I Am Legend, The Road, and Alas, Babylon. Revolution was 55 minutes of my life I’ll never get back, but the years I gained from laughing out loud more than make up for it.