"The Great Circuits Fall Quiet, One By One": Clip From "Revolution"

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"The Great Circuits Fall Quiet, One By One": Clip From "Revolution"

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trailers | August 14, 2012 | Comments ()


There was a documentary that aired a few years back that focused on what inventions really mattered in creating modern society. I can't recall the exact show, but it was on the History Channel back when they actually showed history, or at least sociologically related topics. The consensus was that electricity was the real difference maker, the invisible magic that all our modern wonders depended upon. Computers? Try using them without power. Cars? Tried using one without a battery? Every single element of modern society stops without electricity. As one particular engineer put it, if electricity just stopped, we're back in the nineteenth century overnight. Even the water will stop as the pumping stations grind to a halt.

That's an image that has stuck with me, resonating with all the years of reading dystopian novels, of watching the great circuits fail and the world plunge back into darkness. That's probably also why each trailer and clip for "Revolution" has gotten me so excited, even though I know that science fiction event series on NBC have a relatively abysmal track record.

Here's the latest clip, which shows the world as we know it coming to an end, in what I assume is close to the beginning of the pilot episode:

That header up there from an earlier trailer and I assume that the shot of Wrigley Field is the set up for explaining that the world ended just as the final out was recorded in a Cubs' World Series victory.

"Revolution" premieres on NBC on September 17, presumably about three years before they fire the show runner.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • luckypete

    Enough people have already said it, so I won't go into detail, but I'm willing to suspend belief enough to go along with electricity going out for some reason, except for a few things...however, I will give it a shot, because a) it's a sci-fi type show, b) it has Giancarlo Esposito in it and c) it's being filmed in my hometown (Wilmington, NC). Now, if it's worth repeated watchings... that remains to be seen.

  • CubsBlow

    Well well well. Looks like I wont be watching this because I don't want to see a future, dystopian or otherwise, that has the Cubs ever winning a world series.

  • ,

    Wait ... what's powering the camera? Hamsters on a treadmill?

  • The Wanderer

    I'm basing my entire comment on the ads and trailer that I saw during the Olympics coverage, and I have to say this:
    Fuck this show. Fuck this show and everyone in it, right in their ears, with an electric cattle prod.
    As other commenters point out, there are countries where electricity is an iffy proposition at best, and apparently when The Blackout hits it doesn't turn people any more imbecilic than they already are. Things will go on, people, and the idea of cranking a generator to produce electrical power is old tech.
    If the Professor on Gilligan's Island can do it with cocoanuts and sea water . . .

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Sorry, but the whole premise is pretty fucking stupid if you think about it. The only thing that could turn off electrical power on the whole planet would be an EMP field that canvasses Earth. Ironically, you would require an incredibly huge amount of power to sustain it.*

    That leaves us with two options: either it's aliens, or another completely contrived reason.

    Also: conventional car engines do not run on electricity, so they wouldn't turn off. Generators would still work, provided you'd find fuel for them.

    *Disclaimer: I'm not an engineer, so I have only passing knowledge about this stuff.

  • BiblioGlow

    Actually, I think aliens could be an ok premise. It kind of reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode 'The Aliens are Due on Maple Street'. Aliens visit Earth and rather than fighting any messy wars or staging time-consuming invasions, they just plant the idea of aliens in people's heads, turn off all the electricity, and wait for the humans to turn on one another in the dark.

  • Katylalala

    I really hate being the Pedantic Asshole, but it's The Twilight Zone, so I have to. The title is 'The Monsters are Due on Maple Street', not 'Aliens'. It's a small change, but one that I find important. The idea of a Monster is fantastic in its simple, silent horror. Aliens would be too specific, but Monsters in the unknown...gives me shivers. It just goes to show how thoughtful Rod Serling was about every damn aspect of that show.

  • BiblioGlow

    You are quite right! And it's not being a pedantic asshole, it's being factually correct, which is important, Godtopus dammit. Especially when it comes to Rod Serling.
    Though if I wanted to be contrary, I could argue that 'Aliens' holds as many of not more possibilities as 'Monsters'. However, I think that Monsters works better for the episode because in the end, what destroys them is not something foreign, alien. Instead, they become monsters.
    Also: alliteration. It's amazing.

  • Dragonchild

    The ECU which controls the fuel injectors, or even the spark plugs in an old car, very much run on electricity. However they are isolated from the grid and well-shielded, so anything that fries them is likely to fry us as well.

  • katyv

    I have to sadly agree with your suggested explanations. As I was watching this clip all I could think was "If they try to make this aliens, so help me god I will give up on television."

  • Ballymena Bob

    I like the way everything turns off just after the camera turns in that direction. Très réaliste(!)

  • Odnon.

    I am with the doubtful "Magical Vanishing Electricity" people.
    I don't know a lot about electricity, but if it's some kind of outage, batteries would still work for a bit right? Like headlights and such? The premise looks a touch flimsy, unless they have a whopping good "explanation".

  • phase10

    I saw someone else point out the fact, that there doesn't seem to be any steam power as well. What's up with that?

  • jane

    I'm pretty sure I saw an ad for this that was the exact same as Heroes.

  • Blake Shrapnel

    As I recall, the show was Modern Marvels. That column you wrote about it is my favorite Pajiba article.

  • Pentadactyl

    Thing is, if electricity stopped working at the most basic level, everything, even our bodies would stop functioning. The electricity that we use to make our computers, phones etc work is the same, just harnessed on a large scale. And nothing about the harnessing is poorly understood to the point where it could just stop working one day.

    Maybe they have some brilliant explanation, but I'm not counting on it.

  • TheReinaG

    Thank you! As someone whom has epilepsy and Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome, I probably know a bit more about bioelectricity than most, but Jeez, if literally *all* electricity disappeared, all non-plant/bacteria life kind of ceases to fucking exist. However, being that the show is coming out and the Cubs are something like 30 games behind in their division this year, got a feeling accuracy isn't really gonna happen.

  • ,

    This is when you'll all wish you had a garage full of AK-47s and 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition too.

    Wait, forget I said "too." Forget I said anything.

    *whistles catchy tune*

  • Mara

    This whole thing just annoys me. Yes, it would suck for a while, with the lack of communication about what's happened, but there are plenty of countries where electricity is very much a 'sometimes' thing and it isn't the apocalypse. Last time I checked, the 19th century wasn't the apocalypse either. 15 years later, things should be a lot more normal than this show seems to depict.

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    Ignoring whether the premise is stupid or not, if you think our modern society would last without electricity, you are crazy. We would absolutely descend into anarchy. For one thing, you would have massive starvation. I live in South Florida. We have way more people living on this strip of coastline than we could reasonably sustain food wise. Same thing with most major cities. You would have hordes of people walking out of cities trying to find food.

    Things might be more "normal" in 15 years, but places like cities would still be run-down wastelands. We would have to get back to an agrarian society, and that is not going to involve living in big cities as we scrabble to come up with food just to survive.

    As far as the premise being stupid, there is some interesting research done into why the rules of physics exist the way they are, and if it is possible for it to be different in other parts of the universe. It's by no means settled, but I read an interesting article on the possibility that light speed may have been different than what it is now earlier on in the universe. You could come up with a pseudo science-fictiony reason why electric motors no longer worked. It might not fit everything we know about the universe, but I still enjoyed the Ray Bradbury Martian chronicles, even knowing what I know about the possibility of life existing on Mars. It's called science-fiction for a reason.

  • Arran

    Well, they're clearly taking the "It's gone off and for some reason it can't possibly come back on" route rather than a realistic reason for electricity going off. (There appears to be a MAGICAL DEVICE that may turn it back on.)

    Though saying that "the 19th century wasn't the apocalypse" isn't really a fair comparison - back then our entire infrastructure wasn't built on oil and electricity, and the world population was waaaay lower. If all electrical equipment worldwide stopped working today, we'd be pretty screwed. No hospitals, no reliable long-distance transportation (meaning the flow of food stops in a hurry), no water going to houses, no communication, etc etc. Even if it was only off for a couple of months, there'd be a lot of deaths and economies would completely grind to a halt.

  • Tom

    can people in any form of fiction please stop saying the Cubs will win the World Series at some point in the distant future? it just makes it that much more pathetic when we finally get to that date and they still haven't won

  • Guest

    Why won't it "ever turn back on"? Did all the engineers, and engineering textbooks, vanish as well?

    Seems I'll have to watch this to find out why they can't take a "The Stand" approach, and restore power stations. Yay new post-apoc!

  • Glyn

    All is forgotten in the stone halls of the dead. These are the rooms of ruin where the spiders spin and the great circuits fall quiet, one by one.

  • curegirl0421

    Thank you fellow Tower Junkie.

  • atgdng

    So, this is basically "Dies the Fire" by S.M. Stirling except with fewer long passages about food?

  • stryker1121

    Food and Wicca. Stirling had a great premise but dear lord did he get caught up in details, and not in an interesting GRRM way. Dies the Fire was pretty good but the second book completely put me off.

  • kuzum

    Hopefully, better writing, too. I read way too many of the Stirling books simply because the premise was interesting and they were set in my backyard (the Willamette Valley), but the writing was just crap.

  • Phaedre

    Thank you! You're the first person to finally make that reference. I kept expecting the critics reviewing this to do their homework and mention that this "revolutionary" concept for a show has been done before. I think the book series stands at five or six books by now? I am actually interested to see how much they took from it.

  • Guest

    I don't even think Stirling was the "first," any more than "Battle Royale" was the "first" humans-hunted-by-humans tale. Isn't this a common post-apocalyptic trope?

  • Phaedre

    It's not whether Stirling was first, it's about how close this particular show is to what Stirling has written. The main character with the sword seems awfully close to the main character in Stirling's series, for example. I'm sure that once we have seen a few episodes more similarities will come up. I was just wondering why nobody seems to mention this. But as Tinkerville has said, maybe the books are just not that well-known.

  • Guest

    I read this thinking your "revolutionary concept" statement went specifically to the lights-out trope, and that this was the thrust of your post, esp. given your last sentence. Your response sheds more...illumination (see what I did there?).

    Carry on.

  • Tinkerville

    I love 'Dies the Fire' and it seems like borderline plagiarism. I saw more of the episode at Comic Con and the similarities are too numerous to be coincidental. I would also love more people to mention Stirling in connection with the show but apparently it's not that well known. :-/

    (Of course the concept of the world losing all power and everything could easily be thought of by more than one person but there are a LOT of similarities in this case.)

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