We’re getting close to the ‘true’ beginning of the 2012-13 television season with premiere week now only days away. However, NBC has been smartly (some read desperately) rolling out their line up bit by sneak peek bit with tonight being the debut of probably their most high profile drama and anticipated drama, Revolution. Being a sucker for sci-fi/fantasy genre shows and an Eric Kripke loyalist from my Supernatural loving days, I’m all in on giving this show a chance-even if the odds seem heavily against it.
For one thing, the poor show is on NBC which seriously hasn’t had the best track record of late-especially when it comes to one hour drama television that they heavily invest in. There was The Eventin 2010 which had a massive cryptic (supposedly teasing and alluring) marketing campaign, high caliber actors striking serious poses and constantly hinting at ::ominous voice:: “The Event,” layers upon layers of twists, turns, and betrayals and ended up fizzling out with a tired audience despite a pretty decent cliffhanger finale. That disappointment was followed up with three strike-outs: The Playboy Club (pretty to look at but too little bite for the subject matter they were trying to tackle), Prime Suspect (great complex female lead, but still found no traction), and Awake (which was touted as the best new drama-which it was-but not enough of the viewing audience agreed). NBC’s biggest success in the drama department last season was from the most unexpected source: the other fairy tale themed drama that wasn’t on ABC, Grimm.
Grimm also illustrates another strike against poor Revolution: the benefit of low expectations. Grimm was the last fall drama to premiere on NBC, got very little fanfare, was on a Friday night up against two other genre shows-Fringe and Supernatural– and managed to find a sizable audience and quickly gain a cult following. Not only was Grimm renewed, it went from last to first to premiere in the NBC line-up for its fall 2012 season, and has been getting coverage like crazy. The shows on NBC that came with high expectations? The Event, The Playboy Club, and Awake. One and dones. On NBC it seems that it’s better to be the show that’s overlooked and left to quietly succeed on its own than the show with the entire network on its back. And unless you’ve experienced your own power outage and haven’t had access to television or the internet for the entire summer, you know that it’s not just the fate of the fictional world that’s at stake with Revolution but a part of NBC’s primetime world as well. Not a great burden to bear given all of Revolution’s predecessors.
Yet another hurdle for Revolution is that audiences seem really picky about their apocalyptic shows. For every Battlestar Galactica and Walking Dead you’ve got an Invasion (I still weep for this cancellation), a Jericho, or The Event. And the thing is Invasion and Jericho weren’t bad shows- they just didn’t hit the ratings jackpot for their respective networks. There is some credence to the idea that because BSG and WD are both on cable networks and thus can go a lot darker and edgier in showing the breakdown of society and exploring the grim realities and consequences that those shows are more compelling and engrossing. Their broadcast counterparts come off as wimpier and with less bite. Where is Revolution airing? On a broadcast network where standards and practices can strikeout the fun and poignancy right out of a script. Will NBC be ballsy enough to push the envelope and let Revolution be what it needs to be and show a truer broken down civilization than has been previously shown on network television in the past? A 10 o’clock- read non-family/more adult content- time slot bodes well that they’re going to try.
Despite having typed out all of the above, I believe Revolution has it in itself to break the NBC curse of highly promoted shows that tank. For one thing, Eric Kripke is at the helm and he is a man who loves having a plan for his show. With his previous genre show, Supernatural, he committed himself to a five year plan and saw it through. Sure, Supernatural is now going into its eighth season, but it’s without him. He told his story- a great five year story- and exited the stage. If he’s done the same for Revolution– has a clear game plan in mind for a specific number of years and doesn’t milk it- then he’s already ahead of the game with other deceased NBC offerings.
Revolution also has a pretty intriguing premise that can play out for several seasons: warring factions of the broken down world vying for power, the uncovering of why the lights went out, how the heroes get the lights back on (do they want them back on?), and the beginnings of the rebuilding of the world. There is a long term story at play here that requires the commitment of the audience, but it’ll seem like no commitment if the show is good- which it hopefully will be, Kripke willing.
Lastly, have you seen the promos for this show? They’re fighting with swords. And crossbows. On horses. If they throw in axes it’ll be like Game of Thrones in the modern day! A show’s gotta earn some goodwill points from viewers for having sword play and crossbow action.
So if you’re not too busy watching the Perception finale on TNT or the second half of Monday Night Football (Go Broncos!), and since Hawaii 5-0 and Castle don’t premiere until next week, give NBC’s Revolution a look see. You never know: NBC might finally have found its way again with Revolution and a new age of primetime success.
So voice your choice in one of today’s polls and tell us: which of these apocalyptic television dramas is your favorite?
V (1983 or 2009)
The Walking Dead
For the latest pop culture news and voting, make sure to sign up for the People’s Choice newsletter!