REVOLUTION EPISODE 4: Steamships, Spinoza & Canine Eugenicists
Posted Oct 10, 2012 by Tod Brilliant
By now it’s clear that the creators of NBC’s Revolution have little interest in exploring the mechanics of a post-industrial world. A pity as the material is so rich and, I think, timely for Americans who are more and more coming to realize that the national economic decline is permanent, that there will be no such things as a return to business as usual. In the big crash of the 1980s, tv shows like Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous succeeded because they were aspirational; they exuded the sweet aromas of unprecedented wealth just around the bend. Just three decades of unrestrained consumption later and we’re holding our collective noses, caught flat-footed between the stench of gluttony and the decay of empire. The extremely wealthy, no longer looked upon quite so favorably have taken to hiding the more garish signs of their good fortunes. My point? Revolution could have plumbed deeper cultural depths and struck far more resonant chords that would have, ironically, created far more wealth for its creators.
And so, barring a new storytelling twist, there’s really no point in my continuing on with weekly recaps. I’ll fire off a few observations about this week’s episode and wash my hands of this exercise. Thanks for reading along. I love you more than words can say (such an incredible song, right?).
Some final observations –
I hadn’t noticed the absolute lack of domestic house pets before. No dogs and no cats in Revolution. I’m thrilled at the prospect of a feline-free post-carbon future as, next to humans, domestic cats are responsible for more extinctions of plants and animals than any other species. But I’ve a soft spot for dogs. So when I saw a pack of wild dogs attack our heroes, I couldn’t help but smile. Yet, seconds later, I witnessed one of the more uncomfortable moments of my television watching life, a not-so-subtle advertisement for racial purity. The dogs shown are all German purebreds. That’s right: Dobermans. German Shepard. Rottweiler. The Goebbels family menagerie. Maybe (hopefully) this will play into a developing plot line, perhaps one involving and explaining the real-life extraterrestrial involvement in World War Two affairs (it was ETs, after all, who gifted the Germans with the rocket and jet technology we still employ in our most advanced death machines). By the end of the series, we may learn that these specific breeds with their ultra-nitrogen rich scat, were crafted to help humanity through the hard times of resource scarcity.
While I’d hoped that the eternally nagging Charlie or her positively damnable brother would be killed off by now, instead we lose one of the two characters whose names I could never remember due to their achingly pointless, impossibly empty roles. In an odd storytelling choice, we spend much of this episode learning her back story… right before she dies. Now I know her name was Maggie. And now Maggie is dead. Who was she again?
Low Tech Spotting
While we still haven’t actually seen any steam engines or solar panels, we get an explanation, of sorts, about what happened to ‘em and why we got knocked all the way back to the iron age. It’s not that people didn’t raid the museum for steam engines, or build new ones, it’s that they were all destroyed during The Wars. See? Right? Umm. Oh, and all the lumber that could be used for things like ocean faring ships? Confiscated by The Militia. The fact that this army would need a warehouse the size of Idaho to house all that lumber is of little consequence. While solar panels aren’t explicitly mentioned, I reckon the militiamen have put all those into a pile somewhere, maybe on top of the lumber. At any rate, mystery solved .
No Tech Spotting
Maybe one day Revolution will evolve into a show worth watching, one that delivers on the promise of its premise. In the meantime, I’ll rededicate my time spent watching to time spent writing the script that tells the story creators Abrams and Favreau overlooked.