One day, sometime now-ish, everything switched off. 15 years later everything’s gone back to pretty much the dark ages, but one family may hold the knowledge of not just why it all switched off, but how to switch it on again.
I managed to miss this series the first time it was broadcast in the UK and had to wait for the repeat to come around, so despite being heavily promoted, I’ve only just seen the pilot. I think maybe if I’d seen it at the start of the season before becoming a little warn down with the year’s mediocre offerings, I would have had a more positive response to it. Unfortunately, I didn’t.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with it really, possibly nothing, but I just didn’t care about anyone. There’s something odd with the structure and casting that felt a little bit like a bait and switch. We start initially in the present (ish) day with some recognisable television staples (Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost and Tim Guinnee who has guest starred in just about everything out there). But within 5 minutes we’re jumping 15 years and instead following a couple of teenagers. God save me from television shows with teenagers. The girl fills the traditional role of whining about how unfair everything is, and then immediately has everything get REALLY unfair. So now we’re off on a quest and it’s all a bit My First Adventure – Go to Uncle Miles, he’ll help you save your brother, oh and protect the magic doodad. It’s IMPORTANT. Yeah yeah yeah.
The pilot moved extremely quickly, and maybe that was why I felt un-engaged. It’s hard to really appreciate the life changing situations if you’re never really allowed to spend any time understanding any situation. Loyalties seem to change just as quickly, and every time someone turned out to be something more than they’d appeared I stopped paying attention a bit more. The pilot also fails to really tell you what the series will be like, it moves from place to place and gives no indication of whether that will continue or whether there will be some kind of base.
The characters and actors are all trying a bit too hard. Most of them are very ernest and verging on the sanctimonious with some terrible dialogue. There are a couple of brighter points, the militia captain (Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito) and the drunken uncle are complex, entertaining and appear to be similar characters on opposite sides, which is always interesting. The former Google millionaire now pining for toilet roll brought some much needed lightness and humanity to the piece and has the potential to be an interesting character beyond just comic relief. If only the series doesn’t get bogged down in the angsty teenager with a crush on the enemy saga, they might be able to do something interesting.
I didn’t hate the pilot, I was just epically underwhelmed. I’d hoped and expected something a bit more original from Eric Kripke who created one of my favourite shows of recent years – Supernatural (although it’s gone downhill since he left). I’m not actually ruling out watching the rest of the season, but it’s largely apathy driven rather than enthusiasm driven. Ironically, while I may have liked the pilot more if I’d come to it fresh and less jaded by the rest of the pretty disappointing season, I may end up watching the series just because there’s not much on at the moment. Not exactly overwhelming enthusiasm, but it’s better than nothing.