Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Post-Apocalpytic TV

SurvivalBlog and some other places have had a mild buzz about the NBC series Revolution which premiered with its pilot episode this week - Monday night at 10.  I stuck it on the DVR and forgot it was there yesterday, so we just watched it. 
When I first heard about this show earlier in the summer, it was referred to as post-EMP, but it's not.  The pilot opens with the main characters at home.  Kids are watching TV (a clever homage to an old Bugs Bunny cartoon featuring a little gremlin who breaks everything on a plane Bugs is flying), when husband rushes home with a box of what looks like office supplies, he starts ranting about needing to store more water and other things.  Wife stops him and says, "it's happening, isn't it?".  We soon see lights flickering and then going out, followed by scenes of rampant destuction, airplanes flat spinning out of the sky, and then a view of the globe going dark in a spreading wave, over several seconds.  

The next scene we see is a voice over a caption saying "15 Years Later" explaining how electricity stopped working.  The laws of physics went crazy.  No one knows why.  But while they imply fire-powered things stopped working, fire still works because they have dozens of candles in every room,  and if fire works, that means internal combustion engines would still work. 

They never really explain why everything goes dark, but hours of simulation here at Muppet Labs has revealed that it was ... a plot device to set up the series.  Which apparently will whirl around some little jewelry-looking pieces that allow electricity to work near them.  The ability to turn on the power is highly sought after by various ruthless rulers.  So the charming heroine girl, the hard-drinking tough uncle, the doctor lady and the nerd boy must keep the precious away from Sauron's army.  No ... wait... Scratch the end of that sentence. 

As writers on SurvivalBlog said, they may not have electricity, but they clearly discovered a cache of Revlon, L'Oreal, and other cosmetics.  People who can make nice looking cloth instead of burlap are still in business, along with those designer firms that make tight leather pants and jackets.  The crossbows look pretty tacticool, so we must assume that they're left from before it went dark.  The bad guys have guns, muzzle loaders for the most part, but the baddest guy has a 1911 of some sort.  It has a certain feel to it that makes me think of the sales pitch, "let's make a show to cash in on that Hunger Games chicks with crossbows thing!"

That was a little harsher than it deserved.  In truth, it wasn't bad for network TV.  An insane coincidence or two; some guys hacked up in a sword fight who die, but don't bleed out.  But reasonable action, and just enough hook to make you wonder what's up.  I may give it a week or two to see how it goes.  


  1. I did not get to see it. Plot looks heavily borrowed from "Dies the Fire" by S. M. Stirling only not as well developed.

  2. The deliberate refusal to acknowledge even the basics of physics had beaten "the willful suspension of dis-belief" into a pulp 15 minutes in.
    Decent acting, decent plot, absolutely thick-skulled, deliberate bombing of the execution.
    Airliners, having lost all power, lit by their own lighting as the flat-spin to earth...a multi-lane Interstate full of vehicles, all stop in orderly fashion before they lose power...the home of the opening scene loses all power, move to the yard, and watch the rest of the block lose power...
    The next episode will be better, no way to be worse.

  3. Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

  4. Still looks like a very close clone to Stirling's "Dies the Fire" Emberverse Series. One day in 1988, physics changes, electricity does not work, explosives no longer function, any steam pressure above low pressure does not work.

    1. I came across a reference to "Dies the Fire" last night. It's still a hard concept to do the "willful suspension of disbelief" over, as Anon 1307 says. Electricity is moving electrons, but so are chemical bonds. If chemical activity stops, we stop, because we are chemical plants. Hopefully, there was thought about that in "Dies the Fire".

      At the end of the episode (spoiler alert) a woman they meet produces one of these magic pendants that make electricity work around them, and turns on an old computer - complete with the sound of an old phone modem and green screen, modem to modem talking like the old BBS systems. OK, so electrons move around the pendant. But if they stopped moving at some distance away, she wouldn't be able to talk with the party at the end of the line. So these pendants make electrons move everywhere. But if they did, why isn't the power on?

  5. Okaaaay....I get the Dies The Fire thing and the Hunger Games attraction of the backwards crossbow wielding female lead. What you guys are missing....and it took my 'bread and circuses' wife to point out to me, is that the creators are the ones that 'gifted' us with Lost a few years back, one of her faves. I just couldn't figure out why she would want to watch a post apocalyptic sci fi type of show.


  6. Stirling's series is entertaining, and in one of the books toward the end of the series (leading into another series, of course ;-) he explains how this weird change in the physics of our universe came about (basically alien "enemy action", IIRC). No pendants to allow a way to operate electrical equipment in his novels, though. That is strictly a Hollywood perversion of the story.

    As far as "backwards" crossbows are concerned:

    1. (basically alien "enemy action", IIRC) That is the most interesting thing I've heard about the books, I think.

      The idea that it's "Lost 2" isn't very appealing. I never saw an episode of that, but the scuttlebutt I heard wasn't very impressive.