Aside for being an awfully predictable, recycled, unfulfilled attempt to excite and thrill us the way Lost once did, it seems fairly obvious to me that NBC's Revolution is corporate propaganda in disguise. Sounds more far-fetched than the show's own premise? Let me break it down, and then you'll see things my way.
Boo Hoo, No Technology
Like most post-apocalyptic series and movies, when things go bad, whether zombies are involved or not, they go bad fast, and they go bad hard. True human nature is revealed, neighbors turn on each other, looting ensues, gangs are formed and society collapses entirely.
Now, I'm not saying that this is a completely unreasonable vision seeing as my own neighbors are completely unable to agree on something as simple and as crucial as hiring a contractor to fix this old falling apart building, but just once I would like to see a movie that shows the advantages of the collapse of modern civilization or of a mysterious virus wiping out 90% of the world's population! For example: no more heavy traffic!
Just once I'd like to see a romantic post-apocalyptic comedy, where the guy is a Wall Street broker who after the fall, when money no longer serves a purpose in our society, has to find new meaning to life, and the girl is a minimum wage supermarket employee, who suddenly becomes the most important person in the neighborhood. Naturally, they eventually fall in love and learn a thing or two about themselves and about the meaning of true happiness.
But I digress. My point is, whenever there's a disaster of great magnitude, things are bad, but things are also good. There's looting and crime, but there's also compassion, fellowship and bravery. Sure, the Mathesons found themselves a nice remote village where there's a small community of people working together *cough* communists! *cough*, but five minutes later the Bad Guys somehow manage to find them and fuck everything up.
Bad Guys Are Bad
And the bad guys here, boy are they bad with a capital B. In a world without cell phones and Facebook, all men are unconscionable murderers, rapists and torturers. The second they realize that the government has lost its power, the police are no longer in charge and there are no judicial repercussions to their actions, everyone is immediately turned into the cold-blooded primal killers they apparently have always been.
The opening introduction states that "We lived in an electric world. We relied on it for everything. And then the power went out. Everything stopped working. We weren't prepared. Fear and confusion led to panic. Lucky ones made it out of the cities. The government collapsed. Militias took over, controlling the food supply and stockpiling weapons."
The show's creator, Eric Kripke, would have you believe that this is all a cry against our growing dependency on technology, a seemingly leftwing message. But underneath it I detect a different message altogether. The message is this: don't rock the boat too hard, because the minute you lose luxury and government, all hell must break loose. Without us, the rulers, you won't be able to live peacefully.
The show talks about a revolution, but in fact it tries to keep you from starting one. Like most post-apocalyptic fiction, the show confuses anarchy with chaos. Anarchy, by definition, is the lack of rulers. It may or may not lead to chaos. The show tries to convince us that is must lead to chaos, because people cannot exist peacefully in a society without a government, it is simply impossible (except for the thousands of years during which humans managed just fine without it.) Again, most post-apocalyptic fiction describes a dystopian world, but Revolution describes a dystopian world so extreme and illogical, it kind of makes you wish you were watching the sixth season of Lost instead.
The Rise and Fall of Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo Esposito has come a long way from his lukewarm portrayal of Mike Giardello in the not-as-good-as-the-rest seventh season of the remarkable Homicide, Life on the Streets. Today he is a well-sought-after actor, with his stunning performance as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, and the not-so-stunning performance as the Genie in Once Upon a Time. The point is, he's a good actor, who can reach the depth of a character, which is why he seemed like the perfect choice for the character of Captain Tom Neville. If only the writing matched the acting.
In the beginning, Captain Neville is meant to appear as your run-of-the-mill bad guy, which in this one dimensional world that Kripke has created is not that bad, but when they show his flashback (yes this show has flashbacks just like Lost, surprise surprise), it reveals a far worse character, and further expands how this whole turn of events makes absolutely no fucking sense.
They really tried to present Captain Neville as an ambivalent character, who's only doing what he must to protect his family and the new world order he so strongly believes in, and they failed miserably. In the flashback they reveal that Neville was a nice insurance adjuster with some suppressed anger issues, who doesn't like to confront his neighbor when he's having loud parties and gets fired for doing the right thing. When mere days after the blackout, his neighbor breaks into his home in order to steel food from his family, Neville has no other choice but to beat the guy repeatedly into a pulp with his bear fists, killing him.
Let me say this again: the neighbor breaks into Neville's home days after the blackout to steel from him. This guy just had a big party, he must have had at least some beers and snacks and pizza leftovers to survive on before immediately going over to steal from his next-door neighbor. Once again, Revolution is warning us that people are assholes, and the only thing that's keeping a guy like that from breaking into your home is the rule of the law (because in a lawful society, nobody steals).
Okay, so Neville kills a guy with his bare hands in front of his 9 year old child. Before the blackout, Neville teaches the child that we only punch the punching bag, never people. After the blackout, it's "we gotta toughen up". That's fair; after all, it is now a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive and you have to be able to defend yourself and blah blah blah. This turn of events would make Neville a believable character with a clear and reasonable motive – he joined the militia because he wanted to protect his family, he's only doing his job, he's not a "bad guy" per se. That would make sense if he didn't start A FUCKING FIGHT CLUB in the beginning of this very episode, where he beats the crap out of all of his subordinates, and when that's not enough to entertain him, he beats up the frail asthmatic teenager, who Neville is supposed to bring to his leader unharmed.
By the way, here's a list of things that do trigger an asthma attack according to Revolution:
- Walking for while
- Opening a luggage cabinet in an old crashed plane and breathing in some dust that falls out of it
Note that getting the shit beat out of you isn't on the list.
Fight Psychopaths with Psychopaths
In an earlier episode, Neville shoots down some guy for owning a firearm, later discovering that he's a rebel because he has a US flag. It would later be blatantly stated that the rebels are fighting to "bring back the United States of America." Other than being a Hollywood sentimental cliché, this reinforces the message "what we have now is good, everything else would be bad."
After the event Neville actually says "the Monroe Militia is the one thing between us and total anarchy", again, misrepresenting anarchy as chaos. If I had a choice between militias that are going around killing people for owning a flag and total anarchy, I'd go with total anarchy anytime. Then again, when every single man on the face of the earth except Google executives is a lawless psychopath, it's better to be governed by a militia… of psychopaths.
Danny (the teenager with the very selective asthma sensitivity) tells Neville "I think the truth is you like to kill, because you're a murder and a psychopath." Neville then grabs him by the throat, chokes him and says "I appreciate the honesty." As do we all, Eric Kripke. As do we all.
The Good Guy… is a Bad Guy!
So Miles Matheson, who is supposed to be washed-out anti-hero who gets a second chance at redemption, has a secret! There are many secrets in Revolution, and each is more stupid than the other. Miles' secret is that he started all of this! You see, after the blackout, Miles and his best buddy Sebastian "Bass" Monroe, set out to find Miles' family. Along the road they see some people who have been murdered. Then they stumble upon a couple of guys who are beating up someone because he's got some groceries. He's already down, but they keep beating him up because… why the hell not? There's no police anymore! Nothing is stopping us from killing people. So Miles decides to lay down the law. Okay, that makes sense, I guess. These guys were, after all, psychopathic maniacs who confuse "looking for something to eat" with "gutting people with a knife".
So the next logical step it to form a Militia in order to make things right. Somehow Monroe, who coincidentally told Miles not to kill those guys and just walk away, becomes the leader, with Miles settling for commanding general. How and why exactly, it hasn't been explained yet, but I'll bet it's a stupid explanation. Anyway, I can get how Monroe became drunk with power and gradually turned into a psychopath himself, but why Miles would train militia to capture, torture and mutilate innocent people is beyond comprehension. Oh yeah, and he also forced Charlie and Danny's mother to abandon them and become Monroe's prisoner for some reason, also for an unexplained reason, no doubt equally stupid.
This is Wrong! Okay now I don't care anymore
The protagonist of Revolution is actually the innocent young Charlie, who is as beautiful as she is good with a bow and arrow. She's the moral conscience of this show. In the second episode she tells Miles not to kill some psychopath even though he was about to kill them because he is unarmed (but killing armed psychopaths is a-okay), and by episode six she's willing to kill a law-abiding-though-there's-no-actual-law-anymore citizen just to serve her own interests. She does have some reservations about it, though, so I guess she hasn't gone full psychopath yet. That's what's season 5 is for.
While Charlie and the gang are on their quest to save her brother, pretending-to-have-asthma-to-get-some-attention boy, they run into a parade of wonderful characters like Crazy Dog Guy, a rebel called Hutch whose lovely wife's dying wish was that he'd kill a lot of people, an insane drug lord called Drexel, who is part Scarface part Lando Calrissian (he actually says "you son of a bitch, you've got a lot of nerve showing your face around here"), and Strausser, a psychopath so psychotic, that even other psychopaths are scared of him. Neville's wife also turns out to be a psychopath, encouraging her husband to get Monroe to execute one of his colonels so he could climb up the ladder. And I'm only scratching the surface here.
Just Mediocre Enough to Keep Me Watching
If it wasn't for the oh-so-predictable plot twists, the uninspired cliffhangers and mysteries, and the overzealous psychosis of the general population, Revolution could have been a good show. So far it has been just mediocre enough to keep me watching. There have been a lot of "oh come on!" moments, but because the show was never really that great, none of these moments made me furiously stop downloading torrents of the show. It'll probably happen during the second season.
In general, people (and by people I mean me) have grown tired of these super-serious nerve-wrecking every-episode-ends-with-a-cliffhanger thriller/action dramas. It gets really tedious after a certain point (e.g. everything after the first season of Lost, 24, Prison Break, Heroes etc). I mean, come on, even Battlestar Galactica had a few jokes in there!
But the problem with Revolution (aside for trying to fuse Lost with FlashForward and bad, bad writing) is its total disregard for any human depth or sense of morality. In Falling Skies, a post-apocalyptic show that has its own flaws, there's also a variety of personalities, and the bad people aren't "just bad". Even the ones who are actually deemed psychopaths have more layers to them than any of Revolution's characters. While Falling Skies focuses on the triumph of human spirit in the face of practically inevitable total annihilation, Revolution pretty much says that the only thing keeping the thousands of psychopaths around us from killing us is the existence of government and laws. This is fear mongering at its worse, because unlike Fox News, it's subtle. Why creative people, particularly Jon Favreau who I find to be a very insightful person would play along with this is beyond me.
(All jokes aside, I'm not saying people are inherently good; I'm also not saying that anarchy is the answer to all of the world's problems; what I am saying is that art should inspire change and improvement, not perpetuate the status quo, or serve as a pawn in the hands of the powers that be.)
First of all, ProgStage was a blast! Had a wonderful time performing for all of the Israeli prog fans that came to the festival, and of course meeting The Flower Kings and Pain of Salvation and seeing them live for the first time! The concerts were completely amazing, everything I had hoped they would be and more.
In three days we will be getting on a plane that will take us to India, for our first ever Indian tour. This is very exciting as I have never been to that part of the world, and also because one of the festivals we will be attending is going to be headlined by metal giant Megadeth!
If you're in India and you want to see us perform, check out the attached flyer with the tour's schedule.
It's been a while since we updated the website, so here's a piece of wonderful news (out of more to come): on October we will be playing at the 2nd ProgStage Festival, which this time will feature international bands like Andromeda, The Flower Kings (!) and Pain of Salvation (!!!). It will also feature Israeli prog bands such as PieQ, Sumo Elevator, Key of the Moment and BubbleBath.
This is probably the biggest prog event to be held in Israel in years, and we're very proud to be a part of it! Here's a link to the event, where you will be able to order tickets in the near future: http://progstagefest.com/en/bands-en
When writing my last post two weeks ago, I didn’t even dare to dream that something like this would happen. True. I knew that our Dream Theater parody had potential; when you do something that’s really good, you can always feel it. However, we’ve had our share of “viral schemes” and not all of them turned out quite as well as we had hoped, so there is always the fear of that happening again. After a while you start feeling like you’re doomed to try and take over the world every night for all of eternity.
But unlike Pinky and the Brain, this plan actually worked. Initially, we got quite a few comments, almost all of them positive, which was particularly surprising to me because I was expecting at least some antagonism from hardcore Dream Theater fans. In a couple of days we managed to reach some 3,000 views, by posting the video on our Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as various music discussion boards and Dream Theater forums.
This was quite an achievement, but then something happened that we didn’t expect, or at least, we didn’t expect it to happen so soon: Jordan Rudess posted a comment on our YouTube page. Shortly after, John Petrucci posted a link to our video on both his official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
From there on, the parody really picked up the pace. After only two weeks on YouTube, we’ve managed to reach over 20,000 views and over 100 comments. People were going crazy over the video, with over 5,000 shares on Facebook and who knows what else. Goldmine Magazine even wrote a very favorable review about the parody.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? But wait, there’s more.
A few days ago I received a text from our good friend Eyal Amir from Project RNL, who’s actually worked with Jordan Rudess in the past months on several videoSongs (and if you haven’t seen them yet, you should.) The message said that Jordan wanted to show our parody on Dream Theater’s concert in Israel.
So on the day of the concert, we headed out to Israel Trade Fairs & Convention Center in Tel Aviv, because naturally we wanted to see this happen for ourselves. We went in to meet the band before the concert and present them with gifts: copies of Natural Causes, of course, and a framed triangle with a special engraving:
Meeting Dream Theater, which has been a major influence on us since the day Solstice Coil was formed, was a real treat. Jordan was very gracious and reminded us that the parody was going to be shown, which was very nice of him since I still didn’t believe it was actually going to happen. John Petrucci was kind enough to say how funny we are, and even John Myung talked to us – I swear!
I particularly appreciated Mike Mangini’s reaction, because we were a little concerned that he might take our parody of him personally – but he was totally cool with it. He jokingly said, “Next time don’t swear so much” stating that he couldn’t show it to his kids because of our frequent use of the “F-Bomb”. He further demonstrated his sense of humor when he retired to the dressing room and shouted out “okay I’m gonna go cry now!”
John Petrucci wanted to take another photograph with us and the framed triangle, so naturally we did:
Afterwards, Jordan wanted another photograph as well, but JP had already run off with the triangle! So we took one without it instead:
The Moment of Truth
After the warm-up by Israeli Daniel J’s band Against the Wall, all the lights in the hall lid up, and to me it kinda felt like they’re telling everyone that the show was over and that we had to leave and the whole thing was basically off. But that wasn’t really the case.
Meanwhile the stage was rearranged and Mangini’s innovative drum set was positioned at the center of the stage. And then, as you’re about to see, all ten minutes of the parody were shown on a giant screen to some 5,000 Israel DT fans:
Needless to say, we feel rather fortunate to be in a spot at our lives and our careers… well you know the rest.
Without a shred of cynicism, this truly has been a dream come true. So once again we’d like to thank the band for being such good sports and for helping out a fellow prog band.