You know a J.J. Abrams-produced show isn't going to become the greatest thing since Lost when you see four-and-a-half words of warning appear on the screen: "Guest Starring C. Thomas Howell."
The word "starring" couldn't be less accurate. For one thing, Howell isn't much of a star, but also, he's dead more than two minutes prior to his name appearing in the opening credits.
But the premise of NBC's Revolution is compelling. The show mostly takes place 15 years after all electricity--including batteries--just stops working. Lightning is still around, as well as electrostatic brain impulses--but the latter aren't always evident, especially when characters say things like, "You should've killed me when you had the chance."
Or: "I'm looking for a biography of Joe Biden."
And lines like this don't help, either:
"Where are you going?"
"Uh, this little place called Shut Up and Stay Here."
The show desperately wants to feel like Lost in terms of mystery and narrative technique, but that show was exquisitely literate and full of well-developed characters. Most characters on Revolution are annoying. It's difficult to care what happens, for instance, to a kidnapped character who, essentially, is Justin Bieber with asthma.
The show includes a lot of boring fights, because when electricity is gone, you can't include boring car chases--or maybe because the writers seem to think electricity is keeping us from becoming really good sword-fighters.
The dystopian images of ivy-strewn rollercoasters and architectural landmarks reduced to plant holders just about make the show worth watching, but it's nowhere close to the mythological puzzles of its influential predecessor. It's fun to speculate about dead batteries, but it just doesn't measure up to a time-traveling island featuring a smoke monster and an ancient, subterranean donkey wheel powered by teleported polar bears.