The Next Big Thing from J.J. Abrams
When J.J. Abrams launches a new TV show, we are there. Because we’re geeks, and Abrams is a major player in the geek pantheon. This Fall, he’s bringing Revolution to NBC, and this four-minute trailer is your first look at it.
I’ve grown disillusioned with network TV lately. Sure, you’ve got brilliant pieces of genre storytelling like Fringe, always taking chances and pushing its characters into new, unexplored territory, while telling a much larger story over the course of a season. But they’re few and far between. Most genre shows on broadcast networks fizzle out, their audiences losing interest fast, because network execs or even the showrunners themselves simply refuse to believe that modern audiences want to engage their brains enough to follow a serialized story week after week. Or, just as bad, the weekly episodes meander about, telling little one-off stories, until the season finale hits and the big, game-changing story happens. That’s not good storytelling — it’s just leading the viewer on. Why must we wait all season long for the good stuff? (See: Terra Nova, Alcatraz, The River, and on and on.)
No, cable TV is where it’s at. On cable, you’ve got The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, Homeland, Spartacus… Shows that aren’t afraid to take chances, shows that assume their audience is actually (gasp!) paying attention. But I digress.
On broadcast TV, J.J. Abrams is one of the few media moguls whose shows are actually worth watching. He’s got hits like Alias, Lost, Fringe, and Person of Interest under his belt. His record’s not exactly spotless — he also has failures like Undercovers and Alcatraz on his resume. But we know he’s capable of greatness, so we always tune in to see what he’s got up his sleeve.
This time, he’s producing a show created by Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural, with a pilot directed by Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man. The premise is one of those compellingly simple ideas: what happens if every form of power in the world suddenly stopped working? From electricity to car engines, everything goes off in an instant, its effects lasting (seemingly) forever. Planes fall out of the sky, hospitals have to close up shop, and perhaps most impactful of all: no more communication. No phones, no computers, no Internet, no radio, no TV, no… nothing.
Revolution begins by depicting the moment when everything goes off, and then jumps forward 15 years, to show us the dramatic effects this change has had. Sunlight and fire are the only sources of illumination. Cities have been reclaimed by nature. Governments have fallen. Life in general has slowed waaaaay down. Which might not necessarily be a bad thing.
But there’s more going on than it seems. To reveal anymore would be telling; just keep watching until the entire trailer above reaches its end, because the tag in the final seconds is one of the best parts.
We’re plunged into this brave new world alongside the story of a girl named Charlie, her estranged uncle Miles, and various other players. It’s only after Charlie’s father is killed by a local militia that she learns he was directly — and mysteriously — involved with the blackout, and was keeping some very big secrets from his family. So she sets out on a quest of discovery, in the hopes that learning her father’s secrets might show her how to save the world.
Despite my frustration with network TV, I’ll definitely be giving this one a try, based on the premise alone. Is it the next Lost? Who knows. Will it pay off its exciting premise? Your guess is as good as mine. But here’s hoping.
Will you be watching?