Does this look like a big deal?
(Update: Why Last Resort failed and Revolution succeeded.)
In life and in TV, sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. I always thought the shows Jericho and Day Break was really good and had the bad fortune of coming on to the air when the networks were glutted with serial dramas. Both shows were good, although Jericho was slow in places and some choppy dialogue. Bottom line, they weren’t great and viewers weren’t fooled by the serials that were actually great. This year, there are two serial dramas coming on to the networks, and the quality of one may directly affect the success of another.
Take Revolution, the show I watched while I was packing at our lake house to go back to Nebraska. It’s a good show, and an unique one, taking place in an America fifteen years after all forms of electricity have disappeared. Going into the show, I didn’t expect it to be great, mainly because I wasn’t high on the character Charlie in the show’s first trailer. (Her speech to her uncle Miles pleading for him to come with them is nails on a chalkboard.) The pilot didn’t feel as gritty as it should have and was more like a bunch of fan boys showing off an expensive toy. This is a world were women who wander a days journey from home get raped; please drop the glee. Elizabeth Mitchel’s Rachel Matheson had better be alive in the present, because there’s no lead character on the show. Of course, I won’t be surprised if JJ Abrams doesn’t get that. Judging by the pilot, he still doesn’t understand why killing off Jack in Lost‘s pilot would have been a mistake.
After watching Revolution, I thought, okay, it’s a nice show, and it has potential. If it moves at a break-neck pace like it did in the last four or five minute, and if by episode six, there’s more of a mission than “let’s go find Danny” and if Elizabeth Mitchell does show up alive, it could be pretty good. But then I watched the pilot for Last Resort.
Last Resort was a pilot I wanted to see last winter, before it was cast or I saw any images from it, or even the trailer. Crew of a nuclear sub goes on the lamb and sets up camp on a deserted island? Lost according Tom Clancy, I presume. Going into the show, I was worried the pilot would be bloated and not do the story line justice, but I was blown away.
There isn’t a lost or rushed moment in Last Resort‘s pilot. It introduces every character and situation, and sets up conflict inside and outside the group of submariners. Granted, there wouldn’t be an event as big as what’s in the pilot and things could get lazy on the island, but this show lays out the big story right away and puts in enough characters to follow so you don’t have to worry what it’s going to look like around episode ten. I left the show wondering what’s just going to happen in episode two.
Truth be told, Revolution may not succeed because it’s just not very good, but Last Resort may not help. You can eat generic cereal for thirty mornings in a row, but if you eat name-brand cereal two mornings in a row, you’ll be remiss to go back to the generic. Judge for yourself.
(Follow up: I was wrong. Go find Danny was sufficient enough to carry a show.)