Digital Savant: TV show 'Revolution' offers alluring (but dumb) tech respite
Sep 19, 2012 (Austin American-Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
The new TV show "Revolution," which premiered Monday night on NBC, is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic action series. It has the name of producer J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Super 8") attached and takes place 15 years after a mysterious disaster has eliminated electricity, plunging the world into candle-lit darkness.
But if you're reading this between obsessively checking your email and answering a text message (or if you're reading this on a smart phone, you digital multitasker), it may seem like some kind of beautiful fantasy.
Sure, millions of people die, starving in clogged cities. Fallen planes dot the landscape against broken bridges and urban neighborhoods overgrown with weeds.
For a show about the end of the world, though _ or at least the world we enjoy that currently includes running water and automobile engines _ "Revolution" is oddly chirpy about the dilemma. Even as the government has fallen and mean-spirited militias roam the land terrorizing everybody, the survivors look great.
They wear sleek leather jackets and cart around wheelbarrows full of delicious (probably organic) veggies. Wrigley Field doesn't even seem so bad as a wildlife refuge. I mean, were the Chicago Cubs even using it (Kidding!)
Two children who appear at the beginning of the show as zoned-out tots, eyes glazed amid HDTVs and iPads, turn into "Hunger Games"-like teenagers, wielding awesome crossbows and going on wilderness adventures. There's makeup and hairdressing, it seems, even without blow dryers or indoor plumbing.
By the time the first hour of the supremely dopey, disjointed pilot episode has concluded, we've even witnessed a giant group sword fight. Guns do work in this electricity-free future, but since everybody on the planet has apparently gone all Renaissance Faire, firearms just seem rude. You begin to wonder if the power is really gone, even in battery form, or if nobody on the show is smart enough to try rubbing a balloon on someone's sweater or flying a kite with a key on it.
There's an explanation that the producers promise will reveal the source of the global blackout, the "physics went insane" moment intoned in the first few minutes of the series.
But even without an immediate cause, "Revolution" makes you realize what an awful lot of work it takes _ a deadly, destructive apocalypse _ to sever our connection with computers, cell phones and our giant TVs.
In the world of "Revolution," this is not such a bad thing. The series seems to argue that if it weren't for these zombifying distractions and useless electronic clutter, life would be simpler and much more interesting.
I don't know if I can argue with that. It's been months since I've been involved in a good sword melee and most days I read Twitter all day instead of inflicting frontier justice on evil bandits.
"Revolution" is not a very good show. But it makes a great point: We're so desperate to escape our daily digital bonds that we might be willing to chuck it all at once in some great global purge to feel more free. Sometimes, we just want to get back to the business of being humans on a planet instead of ones and zeroes in a datastream.
The most compelling moment of the first episode involves a little girl being fed melting ice cream by her parents. They urge her to remember what it tastes like, as they are among the few who know the electricity will never return.
It's one of the few connected, human moments in a show that feels like a gimmick in search of a "Jericho" reboot.
If nothing else, "Revolution" is useful for imagining a world where there are no more iPhone product launches, no more robocalls, no more speeding tickets, no nagging software updates on the computer, no annoying ringtones, no online banking.
It's a lot for the brain to imagine and process, but it helps to start with the freezer.
No ice cream, ever again Truly apocalyptic.
(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)
DIGITAL SAVANT MICRO: HOW DO I FIND OUT WHY A WEBSITE WON'T LOAD
(In this space every week, we'll define a tech term, offer a timely tip or answer questions about technology from readers. Email email@example.com.)
As much progress as the web has made, it's still a challenge to figure out what to do when a website you're trying to access won't load.
Could it be your Internet connection Is the router unplugged Is the "Fi" part of your "WiFi" network lacking fidelity
Sometimes, it's not you; it's the Internet. As happened last week when thousands, if not millions, of sites hosted by a company called GoDaddy couldn't be accessed, an outage can cause websites to fail to load for everybody. While such an event can sometimes be caused by hackers, the company later said it was an internal technical problem that was to blame.
Most of the time, when I'm in doubt, I go to the website Down For Everyone Or Just Me, which can quickly tell you whether you're the only one experiencing trouble after you type a web address into a simple search bar. You can find it at downforeveryoneorjustme.com or the much-easier-to-remember isup.me web address.
Ironically, Down For Everyone was itself down during the GoDaddy crisis, the victim of too many people rushing to find out what end of the Internet pipe was malfunctioning.
Omar L. Gallaga: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more technology news on Omar L. Gallaga's blog at austin360.com/digitalsavant.
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