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Feb 8, 2013

The REVOLUTION Effect: They’re Coming. Attack of the TV Show Clones

Tracy Spiridakos Revolution Nobodys Fault But Mine

“John Connor, the future is not set.” Not when it comes to ad sales, popularity, and making money. When Revolution became a hit, it not only created a new fan base for an NBC TV show, it also started a clamoring behind-the-scenes. That brouhaha was: how do we duplicate this, franchise it, make more money, expand it. “It is an unwritten rule of network development — if a new show from a genre not currently on TV becomes a hit in the fall, a lot of pilots in that milieu get ordered the following season as networks try to replicate the success.”

The same thing happened when The O.C. became a smash hit. Two or three new shows sprang up that tried to use some of its elements in different ways, South Beach being among them. All of them eventually failed, none leaving a lasting mark.

What major networks do not realize is that shows set in the future have been flourishing for years that are written intelligently and treated fairly by the networks they premiere on. Battlestar Galactica is an example of this. So is Fringe. If Terra Nova had come out in the wake of Revolution, that dim-witted show may have fared better, as would the excellent Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show.

The Replicants

There are many new shows set in the future coming down the pipeline.

one from Abrams, an untitled project at Fox with Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman set in the near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids.

Sounds a little like The Prototype mixed with Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation but it brings back memories on Alien Nation where a cop was partnered with a Visitor (an alien).

The other two were at the CW — The Hundred, which has a post-apocalyptic setting similar to Revolution, and Oxygen. [Based on Kass Morgan's book of the same title,] The Hundred takes place 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization when [enormous, city-like spaceships] with the human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing [a barely recognizable Earth, only to discover they cannot escape their pasts].

After Earth minus ninety-nine people. The Hundred seems as though it is trying to garner a younger audience with its choice of primary protagonists. On a mission that critical, why send delinquents? Wouldn’t you send your best, your most steadfast? I guess the logic behind that decision is if something happens to The Hundred, is no big loss.

[Oxygen is about] an epic romance between a human girl and an alien boy when he and eight others of his kind are integrated into a suburban high school 10 years after they landed on Earth and were consigned to an internment camp…Oxygen follows a high school pilot program, the first attempt to integrate a group of humanoid aliens stranded on earth who until now have been living in forced segregation. The program is complicated by the prejudices and competing agendas on all sides, and could be saved or destroyed by a burgeoning romance between a human girl and alien boy.

This sounds weak but at least they are starting off where rebooted V should have: the aliens kept away from humanity, isolated, and studied before being released onto our planet. The concept raises many questions though, one being: why do aliens need to go to our schools? If they can pilot advanced spacecraft, haven’t they already been educated in mathematics and engineering? The 4400 dealt with many of these initial issues. It will be interesting to see how they are handled on this series.

based on the book [The Selection] by Kiera Cass…Set 300 years in the future, the epic romance centers on a working-class young woman chosen by lottery to participate in a competition with 25 other women for the Royal Prince’s hand to become the nation’s next queen. This marks the second Selection pilot ordered by the CW; the first one last season was directed by Mark Piznarski.

Why are romances all given the moniker of “epic” when spoken of in press releases? Will there really be Inception-level longing looks and embraces on-screen? Billed as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelorette, this series will have a certain audience, depending upon what the competition between the 25 contestants actually entails. Epic fights or epic fail.

ABC, which has been consistent in its efforts to get a sci-fi/genre hit on the air post-Lost, has two more hopefuls, Marvel’s comic book-inspired S.H.I.E.L.D., from Joss Whedon, and the zombie-themed The Returned, [a serialized drama that centers on a Midwestern town where the dead return to change the lives of those they left behind.]

S.H.I.E.L.D. is virtually guaranteed to have a huge premiere because all the fans of The Avengers and the other Marvel films will gladly take their comic book fix from the man behind The Avengers and Firefly. A show like The Returned was bound to turn up after the unprecedented success of AMC’s The Walking Dead. NBC and other stations passed on The Walking Dead because of the show’s violence. What will The Returned bring to the table that The Walking Dead does not already? It certainly can’t bring more gore and blood-shed, not on a family TV station like ABC. Advertisers would exit the building as fast as they did from MTV’s Skins remake.

Final Thoughts

The Revolution copy-cats will rise and many will fall. Its inevitable. Like with reality TV shows and singing competition TV shows, over-saturation will occur. Unlike those TV programs, the sci-fi clones most-likely won’t have a star head-liner or a unique niche (some of the plotlines do sound interesting), meaning their life will be dependent on ratings, and only the strong will survive. TV stations do not care if a show is good *cough* Firefly *end cough*, they care it people are watching it (Last Resort was excellent, goodbye) and if they are selling ads on it.

Source: Deadline (1, 2), Leaguewriters, Variety, Wikipedia