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REVOLUTION and LAST RESORT… TV pilot reviews

Posted on November 6th, 2012
Posted on November 6th, 2012

Article by: Coop Cooper

A.K.A. The Small Town Critic

Revolution” (now showing on NBC, Mondays at 9pm central) – In present day Chicago, an event that completely wipes out technology plunges the entire world into a new dark age. Fifteen years later, people live a simple, Spartan existence. Ben (Tim Guinee) knows the secret behind the power outage and may hold a clue to bring the lights back on. A ruthless militia posse lead by Capt. Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) tracks down Ben and kills him. Neville captures Ben’s teen son but allows Ben’s daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) to escape. Charlie’s only hope is to find her Uncle Miles (Billy Burke), an ex-soldier living in Old Chicago, who can help her save her brother. As it turns out, Miles may hold another key to the secret of the power outage.

A couple of annoying things about a technology-free future: Apparently people have tons of machine-stitched, laundered clothes, but buildings/houses are in ruins and covered in vines (like Wrigley Field for instance). People are far too clean and well-groomed for having no electric technology but they can’t clean-up rubble, utilize lumber or pick a few weeds? The society has reverted back to primarily Civil War-era tech, but it seems far too antiseptic and advanced in creature comforts. Despite this, it is somehow woefully lacking in weapons, transportation, construction and lawn care. It smacks of a safe-content, major network production that is more apt to favor sex appeal and a glossy package rather than a dirty, gritty post-apocalyptic vision as seen on “The Walking Dead.”

Based on the bloodless, “Pirates of the Caribbean” styled saber-fight at the end, I doubt “Revolution” has many shocks in store for the audience. It obviously intends to make up for its shortcomings by introducing multiple plot twists. The first episode spills several twists near the end in an attempt to tease viewers. While this may have worked with “Lost,” I don’t think “Revolution” can muster enough mystery to maintain its momentum. Recent mystery/sci-fi themed shows like “Alcatraz,” “The Event” and “Terra Nova” failed to hold audience interest for more than a season. I’m afraid “Revolution” will fall into the same trap. I’ll continue to watch it for now. Sci-fi on TV is like pizza; even if it is bad, it is still edible… until you choke on it.

Rating: 2 & 1/2 out of 5

Last Resort” (premiering on ABC, Thursday Sept. 27 at 7pm central) – The crew of the nuclear missile sub, the U.S.S. Colorado in the Pacific, find themselves on the run after refusing to obey an irregular nuclear missile launch order. They are immediately attacked by an allied boat and the sub is damaged. As they are being hunted with no end in sight, the captain (Andre Braugher) executes a desperate gamble. The crew of the Colorado seizes an inhabited South Pacific island/NATO early warning radar station by force with the intent to use it as a base of operations… to threaten major powers with their onboard nukes in order to ensure their own survival.

Gleaning inspiration from similar submarine films like “Crimson Tide” and “On the Beach,” this show is unique in that it takes a setting usually reserved for feature films and attempts to make a weekly series out of it. The inclusion of a stressed-out Navy Seal team with ties to the overall conspiracy and belligerent native islanders (including gangsters) add to the boiling of the pot. I expect a great deal of double-crossing and secret alliances to fill the storyline, as well as the ever-present doubt that the ship’s captain will cross over to the dark side in his draconian decision-making. If the writers of the show are savvy enough, they will lead the main character down a soul-dissolving path (much like Walter White in “Breaking Bad”) from which he might never return.

There are some glaring submarine movie cliches which all happen within the first 30 minutes: threats of mutiny, a captain relieved of duty, the blaring of loud music in the ship when it is in danger (no rigging for silence here), wishy-washy command decisions and so on. It’s an ambitious and fantastic idea to have a show based around a nuclear submarine, but even more ambitious for the heroes of the story to threaten their own country with nuclear annihilation in exchange for their continued safety.

It all happens a bit too fast and never quite gives the audience a chance to buy the whole situation. However, once it gets the submarine movie cliches out of the way, the pilot sticks its landing. It creates a frightening and dire concept that could springboard the show into a spectacular series. Of all the series that have attempted to recapture the compelling cliffhanger formula that made “Lost” such a hit, “Last Resort” has the best chance of succeeding. It can go in so many interesting directions from the pilot’s end that it might spark the audience’s interest.

From hostile natives and mutinous crew members to a global nuclear conspiracy, “Last Resort” has what it takes to become a major hit.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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