If you watch TV, you’ve probably heard about Revolution by now, but you might not know what it’s really about. The show takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where an unknown phenomenon has shut down all technology on Earth, and watching the first episode (which airs on September 17 on NBC at 10pm/9pmc), you’ll be able to see how much we rely on electricity for even the simplest things like keeping our ice cream cold. As you can imagine, the mysterious mega-blackout causes major panic, a virtual collapse of civilization and the rise of warlords and militias, throughout which the series follows the Matheson family on their quest to uncover the truth about what caused the breakdown and how power might be restored. While the show clearly has some energy conservation-promoting undertones showing how precious even a small bit of electricity is, it doesn’t push that envelope so hard that it’s off-putting. Still it was very interesting to see the show’s portrayal of technology-less counterparts to the small conveniences we take for granted – text messages need to be handwritten and delivered on horseback, door-less Volkswagen Beetles have been converted into horse-drawn carriages and one of our favorite characters, Aaron, is the show’s most helpless person despite having been a Google executive worth $80 million before the blackout.
To drive the point closer to home, NBC’s Cat Greenleaf opened the premiere by asking audience members to take their cellphones and pass them to their left to see how that made them feel. Many people simply refused.
Since Revolution is about a world where there is no electricity available, the screening was people-powered by 80 bikers, including one of the stars of the show, Tim Guinee, flanking either side of the audience. The volunteer cyclists spun their wheels diligently during the 1 hour show to manually power the viewing, and at some points early on in the episode, the screen actually went blank. It was unclear whether the glitch was for dramatic effect (if it was, it worked), but the rest of the screening went smoothly. We’re also not sure if the choice of non-air-conditioned venue and lukewarm beverages were reflective of Revolution’s theme, but it certainly did give us a small taste of what a world without power would feel like.