Revolution-NBC

They’ve survived the blackout, 15 years without power and the murderous Monroe regime but the stars of Revolution are about to face their toughest opponent to date – NBC’s scheduling department…

Yep, that’s right – on November 26th Revolution will air its final Fall episode and then will go off the air for a full 4 months – not returning until March 25th 2013!

The reason for the delay? Well NBC wants to run Revolution in consecutive chunks without missing weeks for repeats. Plus if the show comes back in March it will keep its valuable Voice lead in. If the show were to come back in January it would be essentially standing on its own which could be disastrous for a fledgling drama still finding its feet. NBC argue they’re taking a cue from cable dramas like The Walking Dead, which split their seasons into two chunks, one airing in the Fall, the other early in the New Year. According to the network Revolution will be fine!

Okay – makes sense on paper – but here’s the reality. High concept broadcast shows that go on hiatus rarely return in good shape. Flash Forward took a similar 4 month break and never made it to season 2. Ditto The Event which just kept slipping week after week and again never got to a second series.

NBC are vowing that they’re going to give Revolution a big push in the Spring and will support the show – which makes sense given that Revolution is the highest rated 18-49 rookie drama this season. BUT – and there’s a big BUT here – Revolution has one key trait in common with the likes of Flash Forward and The Event – it’s been slipping in the ratings virtually every week.

revolution_cast

Just like those fellow high concept shows, Revolution started big (with 11.65 million viewers) and then has been eroding week after week. The last episode managed just 7.02 million. How soon before Revolution slips below the 7 million mark? Now to be fair Revolution is still ahead of where The Event and Flash Forward were when they went on their breaks (both were below 6 million) BUT Revolution has the cushiest time slot in TV – inheriting a 10-12 million audience from The Voice. That’s a lot of viewers lost along the way.

Revolution’s central mystery – ‘why did the power go out’ – isn’t as central or as complex as the plots of other high concept shows and the series has done a good job at creating an engaging present day narrative. That said, I have a feeling Revolution doesn’t have an especially committed fan base. I like the show but I don’t love it. The characters are okay but there’s no one I can really identify with or root for. I’m not as attached to the likes of Miles, Charlie and Aaron as I am to the Walking Dead gang. And Revolution can get pretty repetitive at times, with it’s ‘caper of the week’ plotlines, non-stop swordplay (usually in the last 15 minutes) and final, mysterious reveal (always in the last 5 minutes).

With these factors in mind I would put Revolution’s chances at a second season at roughly 50-50. The bar is low at NBC and if the show can stay above the 5 million mark it has a fighting chance. But after all the hype and THAT timeslot, NBC can’t afford to renew a show that’s already had its shot.

Time will tell – but Revolution’s power is fading fast…