By Wayne Harada
“Revolution,” a post-Armageddon drama about an America without electric or battery power 15 years after a bizarre blackout, made a strong debut at 9 p.m. Monday (Sept. 17) on NBC.
The question: Will “Revolution” have Duracell in its DNA to linger and generate fans on Monday nights? Yes, it has a distant link to Hawaii — its producer is J.J. Abrams (Jon Favreau also is an exec producer), who was one of the wizards behind the ABC hit, “Lost,” for six seasons. But no, “Revolution” is not a home-filmed project. Further, the brainchild of Eric Kripke, who authored “Supernatural,” supposes a brand of familial eeriness in a future we can’t easily predict, so we can accept and examine the fate of the characters, the situations and the sites.
The show has dangerous implications in the Monday TV ratings race.
The debut of “Revolution,” one of the earlier launches of the 2012-23 TV season and one with anticipated success, will make it a three-way race for audiences at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on the Mainland), beginning this coming Monday (Sept. 24).
Hawaii fans will get the usual first-peek at “Five-0” in a Sunset on the Beach premiere the night before in Waikiki, so the really devoted can watch “Five-0” in primetime as usual, or make a risky click to “Revolution,” a show with bottled potency not yet released.
The third player in the timeslot, ABC’s “Castle,” will make a pitch to earn its share of the ratings pie, too.
And if you recall, “Five-0” and “Castle” were see-sawing in the quest for viewers in the past. And both shows had finales that raised questions so the season's openers are poised for answers: Alex O’Louglin’s Steve McGarrett will have a mom encounter (Christine Lahti will appear as mom McG in this Monday’s premiere) and he reconnects with his ex (Michelle Borth, who recurs as Lt. Catherine Rollins), while Nathan Fillion’s Castle is about to make whoopee with Stana Katic as Beckett. Complications and expectations, galore, right?
NBC had placed an ill-fated and canceled “The Playboy Club” in the Monday slot last fall, briefly substituted by “Rock Center,” the later introducing the fledgling “Smash,” about the making of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, at 9 p.m. (“Smash” has been renewed for a mid-season relaunch, so it's not yet on the radar).
So it’s showdown time, with “Five-0” facing its most crucial test since season one.
“Revolution” earned a 4.1 rating among adults 18 to 49 in its pilot launch, with 11.7 million viewers in the Nielsen overnights. This pull made it the top drama premiere on any network in three years, without new episodes of “Five-0” and “Castle” competing for viewers.
“Revolution” could connect with devotees of Elizabeth Mitchell, who was on “Lost” and who recurs as the mother of the bow-and-arrowing Charlie, played by Tracy Spiradakos, with some of the fire and flavor of Katniss in “Hunger Games.”
Further, “Revolution” has a powerful lead-in show in “The Voice,” NBC’s red-hot talent reality show, enabling the sci-fi show to retain 87 percent of the lead-in viewers. The show flexes promise and survival plotlines about the U.S. virtually powerless, making folks live like wild-west pioneers with decisions and laws wildly based on guns and other arms (like bow and arrow) or plain might to survive.
Besides, it’s got great potential — tapping ruins in Chicago, for instance — and could become into water cooler chatter Tuesday mornings.
“Revolution” is on many TV critics’ must-see list. And it was TVGuide.com’s No. 1 freshman series on its Watchlist, eclipsing CBS’ “Elementary,” an update on sleuthing Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Liu), and ABC’s “666 Park Avenue” (which co-stars “Lost’s” Terry O’Quinn who was story-arc guest star on “Five-0” last season).