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New NBC Show "Revolution" is suspiciously similar to indie production "Powerless"
September 18, 2012 5:06 PM   Subscribe

"Revolution" seems a little too much like "Powerless." Indie television proof-of-concept pilot "Powerless" is "about a trio who are in the woods when an unexplained and unexpected event causes electricity the world over to suddenly disappear." The pilot is submitted to a 2011 television festival where it is seen by studio executives. Then, "come February 2012, NBC picks up [a] mystery high concept pilot and reveals it's called 'Revolution' and the high concept is: An adventure series in a world suddenly and inexplicably without power." posted by Mo Nickels (150 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
And of course, both seem clones of the Dies the Fire book series by SM Stirling. (Or, as I like to think of it, the "SCA wet dream" series).
posted by purenitrous at 5:10 PM on September 18, 2012 [31 favorites]


Both bear more than passing resemblance to S. M. Stirling's "Dies the Fire" and the Emberverse series.
posted by pdxpogo at 5:13 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


...here I was assuming Revolution was an official Dies the Fire adaptation.

Silly me, why adapt when you can steal?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:13 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


...not to mention 2009's One Second After.
posted by fairmettle at 5:13 PM on September 18, 2012


Dies The Fire has more than just electricity not working, IIRC. A similar (but not identical) idea was also used in Steve Boyett's Ariel (although he added some magic to the mix).

As with all high-concept ideas, it's the development that counts.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:14 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


sorry purenitrous missed your post mods can you please delete my entry thanks.
posted by pdxpogo at 5:15 PM on September 18, 2012


You can have your powerless trios--me, I prefer ZZ Top.
posted by box at 5:15 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, as much as I'd love to believe the storyline of big media stealing the work of indie artists, there's quite a bit of prior art here, certainly enough to make the case for direct theft unconvincing.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:16 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's Never Lurgi: "Dies The Fire has more than just electricity not working, IIRC."

So does Revolution, apparently. Wikipedia and several reviews mentions internal combustion engines as not working, but it's unclear if this is due to spark plugs not working, or if it's a bigger problem.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:17 PM on September 18, 2012


This also sounds a bit like the Daybreak series, although I haven't read them.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:20 PM on September 18, 2012


Yeah, it seems similar in the "something changes the laws of physics" sense, rather than being a one time event like an EMP or something (which, after all, would just be a temporary setback).
posted by wildcrdj at 5:20 PM on September 18, 2012


By the looks of that preview, plagiarism is hardly the biggest problem with Revolution.

That shot where the plane just falls out of the sky? Priceless. Some guy somehow knowing about the power going down before it happens? Guh.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:22 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


It looked to me like NBC's angle was basically Hunger Games but with a more palatable setting.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:23 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed Dies the Fire right up until the author really started grinding the Wiccan/Pagan axe...

Also, coincidences within coincidences within coincidences.

Hope the indie guys get their own back on this one.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: Hunger Games but with a more palatable setting.
posted by phaedon at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'd have a hard time suspending disbelief. If electricity doesn't work, we'd all fall over dead when our nervous systems ceased functioning.
posted by mullingitover at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [52 favorites]


Obviously all these things are just ripoffs of Fredric Brown's "The Waverlies", because we all know ideas, like lightning, never strike twice. Remember the steam engine?
posted by 23 at 5:25 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


It looked to me like NBC's angle was basically Hunger Games but with a more palatable setting.

Oh, that's what it reminded me of. I hated every single character in the first episode. So. Annoying. And with the whole conspiracy angle, it'll be full of nonsense LOSTy dribs and drabs and TWISTS. Blah.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:28 PM on September 18, 2012


If electricity doesn't work, we'd all fall over dead when our nervous systems ceased functioning.

And now, please welcome THE DISSOLUTION OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE DUE TO THE ABSENCE OF ELECTROMAGNETIC BINDING.

And no, Ice 9 doesn't happen either.
posted by tspae at 5:31 PM on September 18, 2012 [35 favorites]


Ok, I've been the judge. And as others have pointed out they're both rip-offs of several series of novels. Next.
posted by Justinian at 5:31 PM on September 18, 2012


I enjoyed Dies the Fire right up until the author really started grinding the Wiccan/Pagan axe...

I also never quite understood the "SCA geeks inherit the Earth" twist combined with the apparent impotence of military forces who would have some survival training, supplies, logistics, and sharp pointy knives.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:38 PM on September 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's like The Munsters vs. The Addams Family all over again! At least none of the networks has ripped off Malcom in the Middle.
posted by TedW at 5:39 PM on September 18, 2012


I think the Dies the Fire series lost me when one of the hippy liberal relativists was either eaten or raped by a panther coz that's how the so-called noble savages roll up in there, sucker hippy. Well ... that wasn't really Dies the Fire but the other Stirling series — Island in the Sea of Time — that represented the other side of The Event, where the Coast Guard ship goes back in time and learns that noble savages suck on two continents.

Jesus. Someone please tell me there was no panther rape and that I just imagined it, but please do so gently because I'm not comfortable thinking I just came up with that out of thin air.
posted by mph at 5:40 PM on September 18, 2012


So does Revolution, apparently.

The effects are far more widespread in the Stirling series. In those books it isn't just electricity, explosives including gunpowder don't work, high pressure steam engines don't work, and there's something weird going on with something I don't really remember involving incompressible gases or something (waves hands vaguely).

They weren't very explicit in the pilot for Revolution. Electricity doesn't work. Gunpowder still does. Whether various types of engines still work isn't clear. My guess is that, like Lost, they haven't actually thought through the implications yet and are making it up as they go along.

The show also glossed over the megadeaths that would have occurred during the event. Yeah, they mentioned that the people who stayed in cities died. But losing electricity would kill probably 95% of the population and that's not at all the feeling I got from the show. I suppose BILLIONS OF PEOPLE DIED HORRIBLY is a little depressing as a premise.
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least the Powerless people remembered that bicycles are a thing that works without power. I just cannot get over how many things Revolution doesn't bother with, forgetting that they have nothing to do with electricity.

For example, why doesn't the main chick know what her uncle looks like? Did most preexisting photographs suddenly disappear with the electricity? Same question for why Gus Fring doesn't know what the guy and his brother look like. Paper, drawing, and mechanical reproduction are all still things without electricity. Speaking of paper, why doesn't anyone seem to have any books? And, aren't there rivers that flow through Chicago? Mightn't it be easier to take a boat, rather than walk (seeing as how bikes apparently aren't a thing anymore)?

And oh, god, the crossbows. Yes, crossbows are "post-apocalyptic" and Hungergamesey. It's still possible to make guns and bullets without electricity. Why/how would guns be banned? By the time an militia organized and tried to take guns away from the populace, it would be too late -- various other militias would have guns and it would just be a regular war. No one would give them up.

All that's to say, I think the worst part about Revolution stealing from so many other sources is that by grabbing premises from A B & C, and conclusions from X Y & Z, the world they've built has ended up making no sense whatsoever.
posted by lesli212 at 5:40 PM on September 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's clearly The Tower King from the New Eagle.
posted by Artw at 5:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone please tell me there was no panther rape and that I just imagined it

Sorry, you did just imagine it.

...

Hahah just kidding there was totally panther rape.
posted by Justinian at 5:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


And of course it takes place immediately after the The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, which explains away all the physics problems.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:41 PM on September 18, 2012


Every time I see the ads for this thing, I think "electricity turns off and in 15 years guns disappear?". I doubt I'll bother to watch how they explain that away.
posted by kjs3 at 5:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


...but with a bunch of Falling Terra Skies Nova interpersonal dra to stop things getting too interesting, of course.
posted by Artw at 5:43 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It also bugs me how everyone looks like they're wearing brand new clothes. Seriously, after ten years?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 5:43 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's a great way to sum it up, Artw, and describes what I hate about most of these high concept shows. They take what could be a fascinating situation (however unrealistic) and use it to tell the most boring and pedestrian stories imaginable. There's a portal! Through time! To the Jurassic! Which we've colonized! And look... KID DRAMA!
posted by Justinian at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2012 [46 favorites]


Imagine a world without electricity... so, uh, around 1850 then?
posted by Devonian at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


(Or, as I like to think of it, the "SCA wet dream" series).

Puts on his SCA Laurel Hat.

The thing I'm most know for in the SCA is my ability to make things out of dead trees. As a result, I have done things for fun (like cut a 2x6 in half, by hand, lengthwise, the thick way) that I wouldn't dream of doing by hand for any reason in the real world. So rather than this being my "wet dream" this is strongly in my DON'T WANT category. I've gone wading in the pre-industrial world. There's a hell of a drop off if you can't come home to your Delta Unisaw on Monday.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:45 PM on September 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


This sounds like Children of Men: not a very good idea. But beautifully photographed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:45 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


NBC should just give up and embrace the weird - it's the only way anybody will ever talk about one of their shows around ye olde watercooler. Next episode of Revolution, they should just cut 5 minutes in to a scene of a handsome man eating a bacon sandwich. He enjoys it fully, then does the dishes. When he's done, he looks at the camera and says, "Now back to the show." Cut to the Revolution cast standing around looking befuddled. "So, should we keep going?" asks the Generic Male Lead. "No," says the villain, cutting off Spunky Scene Chewing Actress before she can say otherwise. "Let's just enjoy this time together."

Then they sit down and play cards. Other members of the cast and crew join in, as does the bacon guy, who has brought sandwiches.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:46 PM on September 18, 2012 [37 favorites]



I also never quite understood the "SCA geeks inherit the Earth" twist combined with the apparent impotence of military forces who would have some survival training, supplies, logistics, and sharp pointy knives.


Notice it's set on the West Coast, where most of the military is in the SoCal region, where a Dies The Fire scenario would pretty much spare nobody.
posted by ocschwar at 5:49 PM on September 18, 2012


To be fair to Revolution, the villain so far is played by Giancarlo Esposito. aka Gus Fring from Breaking Bad. So it's not like they don't have some decent actors who do interesting work.
posted by Justinian at 5:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm... This reminds me distinctly of a show called "Gilligan's Island." No phone. No lights. No motorcar.

Not a single luxury.
posted by NedKoppel at 5:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


Hahah just kidding there was totally panther rape.

Really? I'm glad I stopped reading that series when I did, then. Geez.

As a result, I have done things for fun (like cut a 2x6 in half, by hand, lengthwise, the thick way) that I wouldn't dream of doing by hand for any reason in the real world.

I was supervising a construction project in a place with no electricity, and I was scratching my head over how best to get a bunch of boards ripped down. The guys just shrugged and started sawing -- this is how most of the world still cuts wood. These kinds of novels and shows are fun to watch, but the accuracy would be enormously improved by the writers spending even a few days in places where access to electricity and gasoline engines is still unusual.
posted by Forktine at 5:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I watched the pilot for Revolution.
I was interested but then, Family Drama!
(but that's ok, if well acted, it could work...)

And Guns!
(Really? Guns work, but diesel engines don't? But ok, they can explain that away)

Finally, Magic!
(Yeah, nope, I'll pass)
posted by madajb at 5:56 PM on September 18, 2012


That's a great way to sum it up, Artw, and describes what I hate about most of these high concept shows. They take what could be a fascinating situation (however unrealistic) and use it to tell the most boring and pedestrian stories imaginable. There's a portal! Through time! To the Jurassic! Which we've colonized! And look... KID DRAMA!

I don't know that it's a new thing. Our current dinnertime TV viewing is the first season of ST:TNG, and it's depressing how much of the early episodes are a short hop from sitcom plots, with Wesley Crusher! And Caveman Science Fiction!
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:57 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Caveman science fiction, since that was a very obscure reference..
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:00 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Feh. We did this in the UK. In 1975. For kids.
The Changes
posted by scruss at 6:01 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Play God! Too far!

(I watched Splice the day after discovering Caveman Science Fiction. It's a good movie that doesn't really deserve me shouting "Too far!" at it at every plot turn. Play God!)
posted by Artw at 6:04 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


And oh, god, the crossbows. Yes, crossbows are "post-apocalyptic" and Hungergamesey. It's still possible to make guns and bullets without electricity. Why/how would guns be banned? By the time an militia organized and tried to take guns away from the populace, it would be too late -- various other militias would have guns and it would just be a regular war. No one would give them up.

But crossbows are cool.

I completely agree about guns, though, I was thinking about the whole time I was watching the pilot yesterday. First, why would guns be outlawed? Second, even if they were, it's not like they're impossible to produce without electricity. People would still have guns, even if it were only the militias.

That said, I am generally a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, so I'm willing to let a lot fly.

I think the revelation about a magical Internet at the end is what finally did it for me, though. I mean, OK, I'll buy that you've got a necklace that somehow makes power. I'll buy that you've got a computer (which, for some reason, is borderline steampunk instead of just, you know, a 15-year-old laptop). I'll buy that the magical necklace can generate enough power to run your computer and a single light bulb. But if there is an Internet, there needs to be at least a server or two. Where are they? How are they still running?

Perhaps all will be revealed, and I'll probably watch at least a few more episodes, but I'm not hopeful. Revolution looks like it is going to be this season's Terra Nova (i.e., potentially promising sci-fi fantasy, horribly executed).
posted by asnider at 6:04 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


anyway, no more illegal downloading
posted by philip-random at 6:08 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Dies the Fire series starts with a plane falling out of the sky too, one of the main characters watches it crash with her husband aboard.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:16 PM on September 18, 2012


When I saw crossbows in the commercials I guessed that guns were still around but people had already used up all the ammo. I figured they'd had to set it 15 years in the future to skip over all the bloody breakdown-of-society-into-a-gun-filled-hellscape so they could get to weapons that simultaneously look cooler and more primitive. I caught part of the pilot and it turned out that there was no ammo supply problem. I'm not sure what to make of the crossbows then, since there are surely enough guns already for every man, woman, and child in America.

Also, when is asavage going to bust the myth that crossbow bolts throw you ten feet backward?
posted by stopgap at 6:16 PM on September 18, 2012


asnider the computer scene at the end uses a modem to connect so peer 2 peer is possible no server needed. However telephony needs power to work 48 VDC the modem used touch tones to dial connecting anywhere would require electronic or mechanical switching. Too bogus to interest me.
posted by pdxpogo at 6:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, I'll buy that you've got a necklace that somehow makes power.

Seriously though, between this and Flash Forward, can we chill out on the metallic-jewelry-with-intricit-designs plot distortion devices?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:27 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


This show needs Giancarlo Esposito a lot more than he needs it, imo.
posted by chaff at 6:29 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I thought this looked a lot like Ariel without the unicorns.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:31 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


...can we chill out on the metallic-jewelry-with-intricit-designs plot distortion devices?

I'm guessing no.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:34 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I noticed ksh is the official shell of the apocalypse, so NBC really didn't stint in its efforts to depict post-electricity savagery.
posted by mph at 6:35 PM on September 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


For a better, more interesting take on the "sudden modern technology failure" post-apocalyptic genre, check out the MeFite-authored Post-Apocalypse Dead Letter Office
posted by jedicus at 6:35 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I admit I only gave the Powerless pilot a skim, but it looks almost nothing like Revolution to me. Having a female lead is not a coincidence since more than half the world's humans are women, and my guess is that zillions of pilots have been pitched - especially post-Lost - about every disaster scenario you can think of, including the collapse of the power grid (and disease outbreaks, and peak oil, and no water). The power loss is really all these shows have in common, it looks like, and they apparently don't even really know whether NBC saw it. They also posit a timeline that's shockingly fast, in which NBC sees their idea and almost instantly puts together a deal with several fairly big producers, which I just don't think of as the way how networks work. I don't care for Revolution, but its focus is the new agrarian society and the new government and a family story, so I'd be surprised if it came from this.

It's not that I doubt this could theoretically happen, but I'm not seeing it, personally, for the moment.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:46 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Even network TV is contemplating the day when there will be no network TV.

I doubt it'll be as apocalyptic as they're making it out to be.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:52 PM on September 18, 2012


Artw: "Play God! Too far!

(I watched Splice the day after discovering Caveman Science Fiction. It's a good movie that doesn't really deserve me shouting "Too far!" at it at every plot turn. Play God!
"

That's how I felt about that movie too. It's pretty good otherwise, though. But that whole cautionary tale thing is beyond old.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If electricity truly stopped working everyone would die since nerve impulses are electrical biological signals. I'm not going to watch this.
posted by Renoroc at 7:07 PM on September 18, 2012


I'm just happy they modified the original description of Revolution from "in a world where all forms of energy have ceased to exist." Yes, not just electricity, but all forms of energy. That made me so ridiculously, disproportionately furious. Because if all forms of energy have ceased to exist, I guess the show is just a black screen, with commercial breaks? It was just so stupidly imprecise and inaccurate.

I'd be willing to give Revolution a shot if I wasn't almost certain that whatever the explanation for the lack of electrical power is, it is wildly implausible and/or completely ridiculous and has no internal consistency. If you're going to have something set post-apocalypse, worldbuild correctly dammit.
posted by yasaman at 7:10 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're wondering how Joel eats and breathes
And other science facts,
Just repeat to yourself "It's just a show,
I should really just relax."

(Ok, not really. But traditionally SF is spotted one impossible handwavy device before our suspension of disbelief kicks the bucket. This is often but not always FTL travel. In the case of Revolution it's the electricity thing.)
posted by Justinian at 7:12 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought the Revolution pilot was really bad, like sy-fy original movie bad. Vague characters, bizarre science, bad dialogue, rushed exposition-- just lots of poor choices.

But, god damn it, I will watch the whole damn thing for Giancarlo Esposito.
posted by sonmi at 7:17 PM on September 18, 2012


Ever try making your own fabric from fibres? How, exactly, are the fabric mills being operated?

How about your clothes - how they looking after 5 let alone 15 years?

Did magnets stop working? How about passing a loop of wire through the lines of a magnetic field? As noted upthread if wire interacting with a magnetic field ain't working no more...errr....there should be a few knock off effects.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:20 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suburbanbeatnik nailed this one on the head ... the most unbelievable thing about the pilot was how new all the characters clothing looked. I won`t be back for episode two.
posted by hoodrich at 7:21 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but this is a JJ Abrams show; that means we won't just have the one hand-wavy device allowance. That's okay- like you said, any work of fiction gets the one, even if it's hard to swallow in a "But if you have guns, you have explosions, so why can't you build combustion engines again to do work?" kind of way.

But no, it being another poorly conceived Abrams show, it'll no doubt also be plagued by countless situations where character A and character B- who, in a post-apocalyptic future, have no lack of free time or will to just talk- will inexplicably not communicate incredibly vital, pressing facts they've each uncovered recently... and in doing so perpetuate multiple episodes of stupid faux cliffhangers that wouldn't even exist if someone just said over the campfire "Oh, hey, I was out by that hill over there yesterday, and...".

The premise alone is so laughably stupid and science-illiterate that- combined with a no doubt frustrating lack of character development or plausible human behavior in each plot line- I won't be going anywhere near this show until its late season cancellation.
posted by hincandenza at 7:23 PM on September 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


I watched the pilot mostly because this concept makes my boyfriend froth at the mouth, and that's always entertaining to watch.

Why do combustion engines not work? Do they not have fire? How do they have a still and not a two-stroke engine? They're breaking the laws of thermodynamics! And Electricity! Electricity can't just STOP WORKING. We would die! No! We wouldn't even just die, we would cease to exist.

PHYSICS DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY.

And then his head explodes. And that's just when he sees a commercial! The olympics were pretty awesome, let me tell you.

For a while, I tried to think up some crazy explanations (this is an alternate universe where the electric engine really took off, and while combustion engines still work, they weren't very common), but after a while I just starting saying MAGIC at him every time he gets his rant up. This is just a modern fantasy with a strong emphasis on the modern part. It's all run by midichlorians.

Anyway, after watching it, my boyfriend asked me if they managed to explain any of it.

"No, but they did have one character point out how little sense it makes," I said. "He was the fat nerdy comic relief coward who used to work at google but now seems to be kind of useless. I think Kripke might have been trying to say something."

All in all, it was okay. I don't really care about the nonsense part of it, but the main character seems to be suffering from a Luke Skywalker complex, and I don't really care about any of the others. Maybe they'll sort out that weird race shit (that wasn't just me, right?) and it'll get good. I'd hope so, because I really like crossbows and swordfights.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:25 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I literally just watched the Revolution pilot (and declare it better than Terra Nova, V, Falling Skies, and a bunch of other recent SF pilots) and it doesn't look at all like Powerless. Instead it feels like a by-the-book YA plotline:

-Dead parents
-Scrappy archer girl who wants adventure but needs to protect her physically weak younger sibling (totes hunger game rip-off, just missing side braid)
-Magical necklace which provides impetus for quest (magical necklace is my FAVORITE YA FANTASY TROPE. Seriously.)
-bad-ass Han Solo-esque uncle (from Twilight, no less!)
-stepmom issues
-ZOMG is that boy evil or does he love me? Does he EVILLY LOVE ME?!
-Poignant childhood mom flashbacks

Etc. Etc.

The science seemed surprisingly consistent to me, though. No one reads because, as nerd guy says, the kids just care about knife fights these days. It's not that engines don't work but probably electric starters on cars and computer systems and such. We don't know that Billy Burke is her uncle because she was like 4 when they had to leave the city/her home and he was off doing military things.

I think I'll watch it again. Because swordfights!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:26 PM on September 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


the most unbelievable thing about the pilot was how new all the characters clothing looked.

I'd go for the hair, actually. The lead character has obviously been using a curling iron. And I think I noticed some hair gel?
posted by dinty_moore at 7:26 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also the nerd guy is obviously going to get some character development and maybe even some love, which makes me happy. I mean, the writing here is transparent and most of the acting is bad (the two actors of color transcend the rest of them SO HARDCORE) but it seems in the spirit of fun.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:27 PM on September 18, 2012


However telephony needs power to work 48 VDC the modem used touch tones to dial connecting anywhere would require electronic or mechanical switching.

The mechanical switches were going in the late 1970's and early 1980's such that my old man's stock of iron telco racks is long gone - having been made into docks for lakes and frames for trailers.

In fact the FCC has proposals in front of it to phase out POTS lines in under 10 years with everything being VOIP,

What are the odds there is actual copper to tie 20 or 50 miles end to end?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:28 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been kicking around a blackout short story apocalyptic thing for a while now (since the big Midwest blackout in 2002 or so) but since I'm a goddamn hippy it always ends with people having community gardens and rebuilding technology but not having the same level of social attachment because some bullshit about how people are all we can really rely on, man, but people are pretty good.

Sounds like now's the time to pitch it!
posted by klangklangston at 7:31 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just please put a magical necklace in there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:32 PM on September 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


And I think I noticed some hair gel?

Over at Salon that was noted.
— Where did all the men’s shirts that don’t have three buttons and open collars go? Were they targeted like the light bulbs?
— Did they stockpile hair gel before the world ended?
— Only catalog models survived?
— If this girl has never left her village, where did she find this brand-new leather jacket?
— What happened to all the T-shirts with writing on them?
— Why are all the guns steampunk rifles? Did the hand- and machine guns get destroyed too?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:33 PM on September 18, 2012


but people are pretty good.

Just put in how the preppers who put their generators, solar panels and a few computers in garbage cans are now the local "1%ers" because of their ownership of the working tools of business.

Or how the local government takes the tools by force under continuity of government planning.

Whichever way works.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:38 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My guess is that, like Lost, they haven't actually thought through the implications yet and are making it up as they go along.
Because it's about the characters! I mean I was on the edge of my seat as the teenage couple locked eyes! And her uncle, he's a bad ass! I can't wait for the geek to finally come into his own!

Ok, not really...

Sigh... all I want is for the writers on scifi TV shows to be smarter than I am. I'm not sure that's ever been true... but one can hope. Heroes & Battlestar finally killed my interest in being jerked around by network TV, and I now just fast forward thru garbage on netflix (or equivalent) or read the plot summaries most of the time if I want to check something out.
posted by smidgen at 7:39 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know what's pretty cool sometimes? When shows know they e been cancelled and just say "fuck it" and do the plot without having to bother with character moment padding.

I'm hoping the next series of Fringe will be all like that.
posted by Artw at 7:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's the character padding, but some shows do a lot better when they don't have to worry about making sure there's infinite amounts of story available. Keeping people interested, year after year, by changing just enough (but not too much), always seems exhausting to me. Having the power to blow everything up must seem awesome.

Then again, there's Life on Mars US, so obviously knowing the end is near doesn't help every show.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:52 PM on September 18, 2012


— Why are all the guns steampunk rifles? Did the hand- and machine guns get destroyed too?

Gus Fring had a handgun. A desert eagle possibly? I didn't get a good look but it was very silvery. The two elite guardsmen outside General Monroe's tent looked like that had bullpup submachine guns or something.

So the obvious implication is that the militias confiscated all the decent firearms. They made a comment that possession was punishable by death, after all. That's stupid, but it does answer the "why" question.
posted by Justinian at 7:58 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to pitch a show where an unexplained and unexpected event causes electricity the world over to suddenly disappear, forcing a struggling high school chemistry teacher (who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer) to turn to a life of crime: producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student.

Nuts.
posted by mazola at 8:15 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Panther-rape culture.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


there's quite a few influences from THQ's Homefront as well
posted by the theory of revolution at 9:24 PM on September 18, 2012


Clearly, the entire universe is set within a poorly programmed simulation of actual reality. That is the real reason why there is a power button in the logo.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:30 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know what's pretty cool sometimes? When shows know they e been cancelled and just say "fuck it" and do the plot without having to bother with character moment padding.

I'm hoping the next series of Fringe will be all like that.


Me too but, then again, I loved Fringe for three seasons and I really thought they were *potential spoilers* doing something really cool by using the alt-dimension characters as a way to explore how horrible one's past transgressions are without the usual cloak of subjectivity that first person existence usually constrains people within. BUT THEN the fourth season revealed all of that to be just a clever way to keep twu wuv of Peter and Olivia from happening for another 25 episodes.

I really hope this final season embraces weirdness and plot but Abrams (and the two show runners on Fringe) seem more interested in setting up long Rube Goldberg machines that end in "HUMAN KINDNESS" then they are in actually exploring the implications that might be part and parcel of the interesting settings they create.

This is why I likely will not watch Revolution. I will be watching Fringe, though, because John Noble.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:32 PM on September 18, 2012


I'm bummed that this is terrible because I've been thinking a lot about a thing where a massive sun flare or series of flares started disrupting electromagnetic pulses on earth. I mean it makes sense, shit would still work just wildly unreliably, plus it would be insanely hot sometimes everywhere. Massive disruption of human culture, economy, health though probably not total devolution into swords, but like, still pretty fucked up.

Anyway in my brain this involves me becoming a pirate on the Hudson. If you want to steal that I just call dibs on being a pirate.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:48 PM on September 18, 2012


I watch Fringe because of John Noble too. But this show has nothing as wonderful as the character of Walter, just a lot of JJ Abrams standard "making up this shit as we go along, who cares if it makes sense". Sure, it's better than Terra Nova. But then, even your dumber than average sitcom is better than Terra Nova.

Trying to figure out why guns work but electricity doesn't (except of course the mysterious woman with the other amulet - don't worry, they'll eventually come up with a half-ass reason why it works for her in season three) is a path to madness because Kripke and Abrams haven't thought this through at all. Who cares about steam, or diesel engines that don't need a spark - that's just knowledge they can ignore, like the billions who are supposedly dead (but you can bet your ass we'll find out Mom is still alive by the February sweeps). And they don't have to care; this piece of shit is on NBC and in another week will be up against Castle, Hawaii 5-O, and Monday Night Football. So their only hope for ratings will be getting some teens to watch the angst and the drama. Not the nerd teens that can see through this shit and are off gaming, just the ones that want something to watch on a Monday night when Dad is watching football and Mom is watching Captain Tight Pants on Castle. Expecting more out of this show, in this time slot, is a waste of time and energy.
posted by Ber at 9:55 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was it at least "legitimate" panther rape?
posted by stargell at 9:59 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mom is watching Captain Tight Pants on Castle.

You mean Captain Tight Pants of the Firefly class ship, Serenity?
posted by sendai sleep master at 10:03 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn it you guys, enough already with the spoilers. Did it ever occur to you that I might have this thing DVRed ?

I'm just kidding. I'm never gonna watch this POS.
posted by Bonzai at 10:19 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


If the characters were any good, I'd watch. I watch the hell out of Fringe, a show which literally makes no sense half the time. I'll take handwavium, but you can't handwave characters away, and they were all terrible except for the villain chap, who was pretty compelling.

If I keep watching, it'll be to root for him to finally shoot the idiot brother with a musket (for some reason nobody's minting AKs anymore, because reasons).
posted by BungaDunga at 10:21 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Will never watch this, if it comes to the UK, as am not the target demographic and to be honest I can't see it making it past midseason but thank you for reminding me of Peter Dickinson whose work I loved as a child
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:22 PM on September 18, 2012


When shows know they e been cancelled and just say "fuck it" and do the plot without having to bother with character moment padding.

On the one hand, you might mean season 4 of B5... in which case you're on to something.

Then again, you might mean the post-reprieve season 5 of B5... in which case, take that idea and burn it with fire.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the characters were any good, I'd watch. I watch the hell out of Fringe, a show which literally makes no sense half the time. I'll take handwavium, but you can't handwave characters away, and they were all terrible except for the villain chap, who was pretty compelling.

This is hogwash. The characters are actually very complex and compelling on Fringe. In any universe!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:25 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


B5 had the great misfortune to be uncancelled after pulling that.
posted by Artw at 10:27 PM on September 18, 2012


Feh. We did this in the UK. In 1975. For kids.
The Changes


Ohhh man, I have to find this. I read The Weathermonger as a kid and loved it, and went back to it recently and it's still great. [spoiler] the French attempt to work out what the hell's going on by sending missiles over, but they fail, so they're stuck with satellite views which kinda suck. Science! And magic! And adventure!

Mom is watching Captain Tight Pants on Castle

Hey, I'll watch that show over Revolution any day! The characters are at least sorta cute, they don't pretend the plot makes sense, and the dialogue is written well enough to induce smirks.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:27 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is hogwash. The characters are actually very complex and compelling on Fringe. In any universe!

Dammit, sorry, blame the late hour, I was contrasting Revolution with Fringe. I love the latter's characters to bits, the former's are wet paper cutouts except Gus Fring, who seems to have stepped over from the universe next door where people actually behave like people.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:29 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Put it like this.. The character of Walter White is inseparable from the fix he's in and the action that flows from that. Something like Terrra Nova... Neither the characters nor the " drama" we see them go through are insuperable from being in the past with dinosaurs. We could see it anywhere. It's generic "character", and as such uninteresting and fake. People hate this stuff not just because it detracts from plot or premise but because it makes for bad uninteresting drama as well.
posted by Artw at 10:37 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Turned it off when I saw "Directed by Jon Favreau" in the credits. It was shitty up until that point, and that's when I knew it wouldn't be getting any better.
posted by fleacircus at 12:29 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's clearly The Tower King from the New Eagle.

Oh ArtW, why did I even bother to google.
posted by biffa at 12:30 AM on September 19, 2012


In Alastair Reynolds's novel Terminal World, he posits a planet where many different technology zones exist beside each other. Lower technology zones are places where reality itself has... a lower resolution, so to speak. It's made with fundamental constants like the planck length set to slightly larger sizes, so the total amount of intricate detail that can be crammed into a zone is smaller than in the regular universe. Electromagnetism still exists in low tech zones, but human machinery that generates and uses electricity can't be built there, because the zone itself can't support the fine tolerances that machinery needs to function. And anything built in a higher zone loses resolution and breaks down when moved to a lower zone.

So this kind of concept where the electricity goes away can be done pretty well if you put some thought into it.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:57 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My fave post-apocalyptic movie within a movie...with words of advice from the director "pssst, act, act!"
posted by Mojojojo at 2:22 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Feh. We did this in the UK. In 1975. For kids.
The Changes

Ohhh man, I have to find this.

posted by BungaDunga

The whole thing is on Youtube. For a long time I thought I had dreamt this, as some of it gave me nightmares as a kid, and no-one I spoke to had heard of it.
posted by marienbad at 4:31 AM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The first 30 seconds of Powerless, looks 1000 times better than the entire trailer for Revolution. The people in Revolution look way too pretty and neat, to have been living without electricity for 15 years.

And, the scene where the plane tumbles from the sky - it's engines have died, but the lights on the wings are still lit...grumble, grumble.
posted by robotot at 5:01 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So my house was built before electricity*, actually my whole neighborhood was. And there was civilization and government and democracy and all that. I'm not sure that I buy that losing electrical power would instantly send us into post-apocalyptia.

*OK, I guess that there were electrically powered telegraphs in 1865 but not much else.
posted by octothorpe at 5:23 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


So my house was built before electricity*, actually my whole neighborhood was. And there was civilization and government and democracy and all that. I'm not sure that I buy that losing electrical power would instantly send us into post-apocalyptia.

If it was sudden- it most certainly would. Everything depends on electricity today; the fact that we have lived in the past without doesn't mean we could switch right over again.

Take the easiest example- food. Our entire supply chain now depends on refridgeration. Sure we can grow food, like we did in 1850. Do you know how? If I have you same land, could you keep your family from starving? In a city? With other people who need food?

Of course you couldn't, even if you have a green thumb. Some farmers might be able to, but the modern farm also depends on electricity. It would be near total anarchy is days to weeks.
posted by spaltavian at 5:54 AM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's punching in the world code!
posted by Mayor West at 5:55 AM on September 19, 2012


I'm down with any scenario that guarantees I'll never have to deal with another minute of Adam Sandler again.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 6:27 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take the easiest example- food. Our entire supply chain now depends on refridgeration. Sure we can grow food, like we did in 1850. Do you know how? If I have you same land, could you keep your family from starving? In a city? With other people who need food?

Of course you couldn't, even if you have a green thumb. Some farmers might be able to, but the modern farm also depends on electricity. It would be near total anarchy is days to weeks.


Well, I could. It's not that difficult. Having grown up in rural Texas, hunting for food, canning vegetables that we grew on our land and hanging salted meat in the barn, I feel fairly confident that I could survive just fine. I also believe that the majority of the people in that area would survive just fine as well. A country boy can survive.
posted by bradth27 at 6:32 AM on September 19, 2012


You can't do a show like this and have the effect be a mystery, because then the show is about the mystery and the mystery is stupid. All the characters should know why electricity doesn't work, and then they don't have to bother explaining it to the audience: it just is, and the show goes from there.

"Who would have thought that God would get that sick of lolcats?"
posted by BeeDo at 6:35 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


> one of the hippy liberal relativists was either eaten or raped by a panther

Couldn't happen. Even hippie liberal relativists know "when called by a panther, don't anther."
posted by jfuller at 7:47 AM on September 19, 2012


Having grown up in rural Texas, hunting for food, canning vegetables that we grew on our land and hanging salted meat in the barn, I feel fairly confident that I could survive just fine.

You did your hunting with edged weapons? Or you know how to make your own bullets a la Pa Ingalls? You did the canning on a wood stove--or, if you don't own a wood stove in the post-electricity era, over a fire somehow? Where did you get the salt for salting? Where did you get the water to water your vegetables? Who made your canning jars? Where will you get more if the ones you have break? There's a whole infrastructure that makes that stuff possible, and if that infrastructure failed, it would be anarchy even for folks like you soon enough, until a new infrastructure rose up to replace it.

If everyone in my area started hunting for meat, I wonder how long the local supply of deer, squirrels, raccoons, and possum would last? If no new supplies were arriving from factories powered by electricity, I wonder how long the local stores' supplies of ammo would last? If our electric well-pumps stopped working, the closest river is a mile away. I suppose we'd rig up some kind of trailer on the back of a bike to go fetch water... How much water would I need to haul to water a vegetable bed that would feed my family of 5? How much might I be able to capture in my improvised rain barrels?
posted by not that girl at 7:50 AM on September 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I've been working on a Post-Apocalyptic novel/serial/videogame concept for about two years and the thing that's hardest for me to work out is the world building. I'll start to work through a scenario, but my problem is that humans are just too capable of adapting. After much pondering I almost always come back to "super nasty global plague with no cure EVER", "earth shattering meteor bigger than the damn moon" or "good old-fashioned nuclear winter". And even those scenarios have problems.

I love PA fiction, but most of it really struggles once you get into the weeds of worldbuilding.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:15 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doleful, you should check out Mike Mullin's Ashfall (I've heard the sequel is pretty good, too). It's like post-apoc worldbuilding porn.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take the easiest example- food. Our entire supply chain now depends on refridgeration. Sure we can grow food, like we did in 1850.

A difference between 1850 then and take the us from now and wrap it in 1850 tools (with modern scavenging/knowledge) would be the pressure cooker.

Pressure canners were a 1910-1920 item. While 'pressure digesters' were 1650's/1700's.

With jars like these:
http://www.lehmans.com/store/Kitchen___Canning_and_Preserving___Jars__Lids_and_Rubbers___1_L_Decorative_European_Glass_Canning_Jar___31120748?Args=
all one needs to do is replace the rubber. I personally have moved to Tattler lids.
(and no, the entire food chain doesn't depend on refrigeration.)

And if you listen* to The Peacock you go get a metal-to-metal gasket canner (makers of fine submarines they were) from All-American Aluminium.

You did the canning on a wood stove--or, if you don't own a wood stove in the post-electricity era, over a fire somehow?

Sun is fire.

An autoclave is just a higher pressure pressure cooker and there is a way to preserve the harvest.

In actual places where people are surviving with 'lo energy' - they use things like
Wolfgang Scheffler 's
designs rather than the 'ug build fire' idea. Some designs use clockwork - gears and a spring - to track the sun all day long. Somehow no one has the knowledge and skills to melt metal and pour/grind new gears?


If everyone in my area started hunting for meat, I wonder how long the local supply of deer, squirrels, raccoons, and possum would last?

Look to the 1920's in the US of A and the deer populations.


*Or you look for any excuse to post a link to that special snowflake that he is.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:21 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been working on a Post-Apocalyptic novel/serial/videogame concept for about two years and the thing that's hardest for me to work out is the world building.

I think it was Iain Banks that said when you're doing world-building the most important thing to consider is the economy. How do people make money in that world? Or if not money, then what? The idea being that once you've got that figured out, you limit yourself as to what other people will do. And this limiting is the good kind because now you've narrowed the scope of what's possible into something considerably more manageable.
posted by nushustu at 9:26 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those confused about the gun situation on Revolution, there's this from the TCA press tour -
I’d expected the sharpest questions at the panel for Revolution, NBC’s dystopian drama about a world where electricity ceases to function, would be about the show’s rather uneven execution of its premise. But the panel for the show went in a different direction entirely when creator Eric Kripke, explaining the rules of the world, explained that “Guns are possible in the world, but they’re confiscated, because we’re living in the Monroe Republic, which is a dictatorship, and they’ve taken away people’s right to bear arms.”
[...]
Kripke said that he thought his remarks about guns were part of a larger context of the show, which is a metaphor for the American Revolution. “I think we’re talking about, you know, a dictator who is also conscripting soldiers, taxation without representation, taking away the freedoms of what was once the citizens of the United States in a hundred different ways and that what we’re really talking about is, at the end of the day, a very patriotic show that is in many ways about people fighting for freedom, freedoms to be able to go where they want, say what they want, be together with their families,” he said. “I think it’s a much bigger show that is about that is more about, like, what it means to be a citizen of this country and what are the things that are positive about it and what are the things that are worth fighting for.”
posted by cnelson at 9:37 AM on September 19, 2012


You did your hunting with edged weapons?

I know how to use a bow, can make and use snares and traps, so yes - no problem. I've killed many small animals without the use of a gun, and can also use a fishing pole - or know how to catch fish without a pole.

Or you know how to make your own bullets a la Pa Ingalls?

I have a reloader and equipment, and I have black powder rifles, so yeah - sort of.


You did the canning on a wood stove--or, if you don't own a wood stove in the post-electricity era, over a fire somehow?

I have cooked on a wood stove, yes - and I grew up in a house that was heated partially by one. It's still there, in the den of my parent's old house on land that I own. Ready for use when needed.

Where did you get the salt for salting?

We bought it from the store. I am sure there will be other routes in the future if it comes back into fashion. If it isn't, we shall go another route. no big deal.

Where did you get the water to water your vegetables?

rain.

Who made your canning jars?

Mason.

Where will you get more if the ones you have break?

Whatever source I can get. If I can't I will find an alternative.

There's a whole infrastructure that makes that stuff possible, and if that infrastructure failed, it would be anarchy even for folks like you soon enough, until a new infrastructure rose up to replace it.

I don't think so. Look, I grew up fishing and hunting, raising our own crops and livestock, and surviving off of the land and what we had available. The point is NOT to worry about OMG WHERE WILL WE GET NEW JARS - the point is - you make it with what you have available, with the skills that you have. I obviously have more than you in this department.

I have no worries whatsoever that I could survive just fine on my own in such a scenario. I know how to survive. I know how to build shelter. I know how to keep warm. I know how to find food. I know what to eat - and what not to eat - in the woods. No problem.
posted by bradth27 at 10:09 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


If everyone in my area started hunting for meat, I wonder how long the local supply of deer, squirrels, raccoons, and possum would last?

A long time. Besides, most people, I would hope, would begin raising their own livestock.

If no new supplies were arriving from factories powered by electricity, I wonder how long the local stores' supplies of ammo would last?

I can make my own black powder and explosives - can you?

If our electric well-pumps stopped working, the closest river is a mile away. I suppose we'd rig up some kind of trailer on the back of a bike to go fetch water... How much water would I need to haul to water a vegetable bed that would feed my family of 5? How much might I be able to capture in my improvised rain barrels?

We fed a family of 7 on a garden that we didn't haul water to at all - rain took care of that for us. In times of drought, we often used diverted water from the creek nearby that flowed from underground ( never dried up) to freshen the crops. no problem. and you would be suprised how much water you can get with a rain barrel. I use them now on my yard and garden - the flow is diverted off of a massive "rain catcher" that most people refer to as a roof.

Look, I think the difference here is that you seem to want to panic and think that the whole world will fall apart and everyone will just go insane because no one will know what to do. This may be correct - for some people. Maybe instead of looking for things that will not work in that world of the future, you can study up and do some research on what people did before we had all these luxuries. You might be surprised at how simple the answers really are.
posted by bradth27 at 10:19 AM on September 19, 2012


Look, I think the difference here is that you seem to want to panic and think that the whole world will fall apart and everyone will just go insane because no one will know what to do.

No, the difference is that you seem to really, really want us to know that you'd make it just fine, while ignoring that this clearly isn't the case for 75% of the developed world's population.

Finally, you seem to be ignoring that all of these plans you are talking about will be taking place in a world of millions of hungry, scared, desperate people. You're probably a better shot than the "city boys" who will fan out into the rural areas in search of food- but how long can you hold them off? How far are you from a major population center? If cars still work, it's probably less than a day or two.

Of course there will be people who make a go it, especially in rural areas, but most of us don't live in rural areas. The comment we were responded to doubted that there would be a breakdown in society. It's obvious that there would be in urban and suburban areas.
posted by spaltavian at 10:26 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, the difference is that you seem to really, really want us to know that you'd make it just fine, while ignoring that this clearly isn't the case for 75% of the developed world's population.

Well, yes - that was my point. There are many of us - a lot more than you think, I would guess, that would be just fine. I never said that a lot of people would NOT be able to make it. I said I would be able to do it just fine.

Finally, you seem to be ignoring that all of these plans you are talking about will be taking place in a world of millions of hungry, scared, desperate people. You're probably a better shot than the "city boys" who will fan out into the rural areas in search of food- but how long can you hold them off? How far are you from a major population center? If cars still work, it's probably less than a day or two.

I live in the city - but my land is about 250 miles away from a large city, and about 35 miles from a significantly populated town. I wouldn't stay here, obviously. As for holding the city boys off - well, I guess I would just take my chances.


Of course there will be people who make a go it, especially in rural areas, but most of us don't live in rural areas. The comment we were responded to doubted that there would be a breakdown in society. It's obvious that there would be in urban and suburban areas.

I understand that, and would not disagree. However, if you read my comment again - I said I would do just fine, and the majority of the people in the area where I grew up would do just fine as well. Do I think there would be a breakdown in society? sure. I never said there wouldn't be.
posted by bradth27 at 10:37 AM on September 19, 2012


Being the helpful librarian that I am, I have put together a simple list of basic instructional books for those of you who may be worried that you don't have the skills to survive without food being handed to you in a wrapper. Remember, buy the traditional print version... if the electricity goes out, your Kindle isn't going to work.

The Foxfire Books - Vol 1, 2 and 3.

The U.S Army Survival Manual

The Trapper's Bible

A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game

Back to Basics

Country Wisdom and Know-How

The Forager's Harvest
posted by bradth27 at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


This show needs Giancarlo Esposito a lot more than he needs it, imo.

Not necessarily. Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn both had role-of-a-lifetime performances in Lost and have struggled to make much impact since. Esposito needs another strong role to follow up his performance as Gus Fring.

From the pilot, it seems like the direction he was given was basically "do the Fring thing again".

(FWIW, Esposito's been an occasional but somewhat forgettable guest in Once Upon A Time last season. Although everything about that show is somewhat forgettable against Robert Carlyle's batshit-crazy hamming.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm reading this just cause I have a half-formed SCA dorks take over the world plot bubblking away and I'm totally stealing ideas.
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


(maybe a magical necklace or two)
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2012


(and as always the most valuable survival skill? Social ties.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Esposito needs another strong role to follow up his performance as Gus Fring.

He was in Homicide; towards the end when the quality was slipping by his character was interesting.
posted by spaltavian at 11:46 AM on September 19, 2012


So, has anyone mentioned Nabokov's "Ada" yet? Because I would totally watch an Abrams show where electricity wasn't impossible as opposed to just kinda shameful and people used water-powered telephones instead.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:09 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Gus turning up means this show will have a similar casting relationship with Breaking Bad as fringe had with The Wire.

In other news I totally saw Hank in Starship Troopers the other day.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on September 19, 2012


Regarding the whole electricity and engines thing....Yes, combustion engines use the combustion of gasoline fumes to create the explosion which drives the pistons. The engines, however, require a spark of some kind to cause the explosion, ie., the sparkplug which causes an electric spark to jump the gap and it's power comes from the battery and other electricity generating components of the modern engine. Take away the electricity and no combustion.

That said, the thing that really bugged me about the opening 5 minutes was the Dramatic Effect of the electricity shutting off. Planes fell out of the sky, but still had their lights on. The power in serious guy's house goes out and he has time to walk to the door and watch his neighbors' power go out, house by house. If, as the view from space shows the power going off as a wave front passes by, the city scale would be instant blackout. And don't get me started about the car scene where the power goes off for the two characters while driving on an interstate and they come to a standstill, but the cars behind them which should be running at highway speed seem to be working just fine until their power goes off in a slow wave. No wrecks, screeching of brakes, explosions, screams, anything.
posted by Oh_Bobloblaw at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2012


Regarding the whole electricity and engines thing....Yes, combustion engines use the combustion of gasoline fumes to create the explosion which drives the pistons. The engines, however, require a spark of some kind to cause the explosion, ie., the sparkplug which causes an electric spark to jump the gap and it's power comes from the battery and other electricity generating components of the modern engine. Take away the electricity and no combustion.

Diesel engines don't have spark plugs.
Just sayin'.

(of course, you'd best hope you live somewhere warm, because no electricity means no glow plugs...)
posted by madajb at 1:45 PM on September 19, 2012


Not sure how you'd handle fuel regulation though, with no electricity at all.
Is there an all mechanical diesel engine? I don't know enough about the early versions.
posted by madajb at 1:48 PM on September 19, 2012


> Feh. We did this in the UK. In 1975. For kids.

I was actually thinking Terry Nation's Survivors but mostly because I enjoyed the 2008 remake.

> Clearly, the entire universe is set within a poorly programmed simulation of actual reality. That is the real reason why there is a power button in the logo.

Did anyone see Cabin in the Woods? It was all simulations-within-simulations. Charlie Kaufman for less-stilted audiences.

> Not necessarily. Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn both had role-of-a-lifetime performances in Lost and have struggled to make an impact since

You're obviously not watching Person of Interest.

I really admire Kripke for the 3 middle seasons of Supernatural -- there's some smart genre writing in there. Watching the Revolution pilot felt as though I was watching two different producer's sensibilities at war -- the brand-new clothing and belly t's really have no place in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. But it was just the first episode.That telnet bit we got at the end of the episode was Lost's Hatch written all over it.
posted by vhsiv at 2:51 PM on September 19, 2012



Not sure how you'd handle fuel regulation though, with no electricity at all.
Is there an all mechanical diesel engine? I don't know enough about the early versions.


Yes, there are many all-mechanical diesel engines, even some pretty recent ones. You'd have to rig up work-arounds for things like the fuel-shutoff solenoid and the electric lift pump that usually gets the diesel up to the mechanical high pressure pump, things like that, but I'm sure it's been done many times. You also wouldn't have working glow plugs or anything like that, and I wouldn't want to be the person trying to start a large diesel with a hand-crank on a cold morning...
posted by Forktine at 5:12 PM on September 19, 2012


What happened to all the T-shirts with writing on them?

Nerd guy was clearly wearing an AC/DC t-shirt when they went questing.
posted by asnider at 5:15 PM on September 19, 2012


mullingitover: "I'd have a hard time suspending disbelief. If electricity doesn't work, we'd all fall over dead when our nervous systems ceased functioning."

As my husband says when I point out the obvious, "Shhh!"
posted by deborah at 5:44 PM on September 19, 2012


What Would Tyler Durdan Do (nsfw) reports that Revolution got decent ratings. Although the 11.7 million inital viewers dropped to 10.4 million after the half-hour break. As for the author…
[Under an animated GIF of a guy getting shot in the chest with a crossbow and flying backwards when it hits him]

I didn’t even make it that long. I tapped out at around 13 minutes. That’s when this guy was running forward at full speed and either someone tied him to the fence as a prank and he ran out of rope or God picked up a tree like a baseball bat and smashed him in the face. All I know for sure is that he wasn’t shot with a tiny wooden arrow.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2012


But would anyone have a reliable source for diesel fuel 15 years after the breakdown of society?
posted by stopgap at 5:50 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see Kripke's fingerprints on small show details - the surname of his heroes is Matheson and the show takes place in a post-apocaluptic hellscape: He's name-checking Richard Matheson and I Am Legend (the book, not the Will Smith muvie).

The spotless new clothes seem as though the costume people didn't have their time to get their act together, or the producers were trying to sell some clothes (like that belly-t). The triple-ironic thing is that the production values on Supernatural seem to have been much, much higher than those on Revolution, and NBC is the bigger network.

Kripke was much more meticulous on his own show. It feels as though the Felicity creator has brought the young turk down a notch.

(How soon we forget, eh?)
posted by vhsiv at 6:12 AM on September 20, 2012


(The women on the first 5 seasons of Supernatural always had the most exceptional hairdo's.)
posted by vhsiv at 6:16 AM on September 20, 2012


But would anyone have a reliable source for diesel fuel 15 years after the breakdown of society?

Vegetable oil, no? I'd be a lot more concerned with maintaining a source of usable tires and gaskets, probably. But yeah, you could drive around like Humungous in your deathmobile, bringing terror to your serfs and sharecroppers, for at least a few decades.
posted by Forktine at 6:19 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, eventually those guys all upgraded to pig farts.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2012


Go hunt up Lister engine and veggie oil. Under $3000 used to be able to get ya a 6 hp lister and a 2 ton an hour oil press.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:10 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There'd be millions of cars rusting in the cities that could be used for spare parts, and maybe extra gasoline. Though after fifteen years maybe all the gas would have leaked out.

The clothes looked way too new, but maybe some enterprising survivors looted all the big box stores and hoarded the unused clothes, and now there's a trade network set up that doles out 2012 fashions in exchange for necessities. Dead people's closets would be another major source of clothing and shoes. Really tough work clothes might be a lot harder to get than flimsy stuff, because they'd be in the highest demand.

I think some industries (like agriculture) would have to develop pretty quickly if anyone was going to survive, but others might be blighted by the huge stocks of material left over from the old world.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:07 PM on September 20, 2012


BeeDo: "You can't do a show like this and have the effect be a mystery, because then the show is about the mystery and the mystery is stupid. All the characters should know why electricity doesn't work, and then they don't have to bother explaining it to the audience: it just is, and the show goes from there."

Course you can do this... it's practically the definition of a McGuffin.

FWIW, I just assumed that, since someone knew it was going to happen, and there were the magic necklaces prepared beforehand, the lack of electricity is a deliberate act. Also, given this is an American TV series, for which they'll want to make ~100 episodes over a few years, and don't know if/when they'll be cancelled or which actors will suck, have a stand-out role or want to leave, absolute certainty and revelation in the first episode would be foolish.
posted by Auz at 5:29 AM on September 23, 2012


I thought it was an accident, since the scientist Dad had so little time to prepare. But maybe it was a deliberate act he discovered at the last minute.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:46 PM on September 24, 2012


...absolute certainty and revelation in the first episode would be foolish.

I would pay an enormous amount of money for a website where all show creators wrote out a synopsis of how a cancelled show was supposed to go. I don't care if it got cancelled a season to early, 6 episodes early, or if the creator had a 6 season story arc in mind. I wouldn't even mind if the synopsis started with "We actually didn't have a plan, which is why we got canned, but I kind of thought..."

It kills me when I hear about a show with a premise that sounds interesting, watch the pilot, and know with certainty that I will never know how that show was supposed to go beyond the first season (a full first season if I'm lucky).

I guess there are probably fanfic sites out there that wrap these shows up (or continue them indefinitely), but sometimes I really just want to know WTF the creators had in mind when the whole thing got started.

What would it take to contact all these people and ask them for a 5 minute explanation of what was supposed to happen?
posted by jermsplan at 7:52 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The lifespan of a typical television sci-fi show is inversely proportional to the absurdity of the premise.

(Lost doesn't count because there was no premise)
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 9:51 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


The lifespan of a typical television sci-fi show is inversely proportional to the absurdity of the premise.

*coughdoctorwhocough*
posted by Sys Rq at 4:34 PM on October 1, 2012


Got to agree with Sys Rq here. Something like warp drive or "inertial dampeners" technically makes Star Trek "absurd" in the sense that these things doesn't resemble anything that could work in the real world - but they're conventions that people are used to. I think absurd and clichéd plots are much harder for audiences to accept than absurd premises (in a show that's not supposed to be a satire).
posted by Kevin Street at 5:32 PM on October 1, 2012


Doctor who is fantasy , not science fiction. We can legitimately ask "What if it were possible to go faster than the speed of light?" and you get warp drive and Star Fleet. But I do not think you can legitimately ask "What if an alien with a bowtie and two hearts had a blue Police box that could go anywhere in time and space and do anything he liked to do?" and end up with something like science fiction.

More to the point, in something like Start Trek classic there are more or less definite rules and limitations, warp drives can do this but they can't do that, transporters can do that but they can't do this. Such rules and limitations tend put things into the realm of science fiction whereas in a show like Doctor Who (which I inexplicably like btw) anything can pretty much happen at any time if the Doctor (and the writers) wants it to happen which puts the show into the realm of magic and hence fantasy.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 5:14 PM on October 2, 2012


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