On NPR recently, in “Why You Shouldn’t Watch The Best New Show on TV,” Andrew Wallenstein had a short and sweet spot-on analysis of what happens to serialized dramas: they die mid-season. If a viewer hasn’t been following the story, it gets difficult to catch up. It’s a new world, unfamiliar, with obstacles that ordinary citizens must overcome. Even with DVR and Netflix Instant and Blockbuster Instant and Amazon Prime On-Demand, we can’t make viewers lazy enough to catch up while doing laundry even if they really like the story.
But the ching-ching of “Lost” keeps hope alive for executives who greenlight serialized dramas, esp sci-fi ones. This fall there are a few such shows that execs are hoping feels the “Lost” love. One is “Revolution” (Mondays, NBC, 10pm). I like it. Writing is good. A world without electricity: great premise that allows itself to all sorts of jokes, insights, asides, such as the woman who’s only photos of her kids are on a phone that won’t turn on or the fact that even the bad guys can’t win when faced with a better gun (I don’t know guns but I do know that bows and arrows are cool unless you’re out to win in which case a 21st century weapon comes in handy).
The episodes so far have good twists and turns, mythology well set up. Wish the preview for the next show wouldn’t give away the surprises. (Previews recently give away the entire show/movie. WHY? I no longer need to see it if you give it away! Somewhere between “Tree of Life” trailer and give-it-all-away is the happy medium ground.)
From the beginning admittedly, I had a biased against the lead, Tracy Spiridakos, who didn’t capture me even from the trailers. She’s like almost every other female lead on TV, sitcom or drama with big innocent blue eyes and blond hair: the Doll Complex (see post). Bee-stung lips are great except when you’re like “ooh, she got pummeled…but her lips are so juicy-and how’s her hair not get in her face?” Works for a certain demographic no doubt, but there is Daniella Alonso making up the hot no-nonsense quotient, which I personally like more than cherubic. I like beauty but also wear and tear to show when your life has been a struggle.
At least Spiridakos is not annoying and decent actress. But she’s not melting my heart. So far. She’s not making me root for her. She’s lost her family; she’s angry; she grieves over a lost childhood. Not feeling that vibe though the writers and directors are doing their best to convey it. Conveyed, not felt. Sorry, Tracy, you’re beautiful but you and I just don’t have that je ne sais quoi.
Who I love: Billy Burke. Man’s getting his payday being hopelessly underused in that sadly shallow character from “Twilight,” Bella’s dad. Ugh. He needed a juicy part and his “Revolution” Miles Matheson is all kinds of watermelon-juicy. Who knew how charismatic he was?
Another actor getting their due is Tim Guinee, who I hope we see a lot more of. He’s like Chris Cooper – those solid, terrific actors who go under the radar because they’re so good that they inhabit their characters and take every scene they’re in to the next level. He was in “Good Wife” as the PI with kids.
Giancarlo Esposito shines yet again. He’s got the whole evil simmering beneath a placid surface down to a science as evidenced by “Breaking Bad” and “Once Upon a Time.” He fills the screen and infuses a scene with tension with the highest stake of all: what’s he thinking and will he kill anyone right now? I read that the actor is the exact opposite: into Buddhism, serene, and friendly to everyone. You just can’t control what the screen reads sometimes!
Zak Orth inhabits, exudes, IS the ex-Google millionaire whose tech nerdiness may put together the pieces as to the blackout. He has an extensive resume but this is the first time I’m seeing him and I like it what I see.
I think the cinematography could be…grittier? Grainier? “Breaking Bad” and “Fringe” have visual style that is top-notch and changes as per content. For me, “Revolution” is too digital looking, too TV. The audience needs the smell of blood gushing when you’re in an environment that’s going back to the tech Dark Ages. We need the dirt and grime when there are no working showers and outhouses. The ‘TV look,’ as I call it in my own world, worked for “Lost” since the lush island setting lent itself to the story against the sinister parts of it. A post acopolyptic world however needs to get down and dirty. This is a minor note from a non-DP so take it with the pound of salt that it’s worth.
Like the show so far, but there still needs to be a lot more wooing for love. The best part though is the writing; seems like a challenging writer’s room that’s brimming with ideas and imagination, so looking forward to the ride.