Why The Walking Dead is better than Revolution in almost every way

Is it fair to compare AMC's smash hit zombie-fest The Walking Dead with new NBC show Revolution?

Both are set in a post-apocalyptic version of the United Sates. The Walking Dead takes a gritty and serialized slant on the "classic" zombie tale while Revolution poses the rather novel question of what would happen if all electricity and power shuts down (including anything battery-powered, mysteriously) forevermore.

the walking dead

Because both are airing currently – The Walking Dead has just kicked off its third season (to record ratings) while Revolution is five episodes into its freshman season – I found myself judging one against the other over the past week.

And mostly the question circling around my mind has been why The Walking Dead is superior to Revolution in nearly every way.

To be fair, the two shows have different goals.  It took me some time to get my mind around the fact that while The Walking Dead is chock full of undead flesh eating mutants, it's actually the far more realistic show. That's to say that the show feels real and naturalistic within the wildly horrific environment within which the characters exist.

Revolution seems to take a little bit of a, shall we say, less serious or rigorous approach. This might be fine and well and good – and no doubt some viewers will not care – but I find this to be increasingly distracting and annoying as the first season progresses.

Everyone in Revolution is way too pretty, for one. Even though most of the series thus far takes place 15 years after the juice shuts off, it seems there's plenty of cleaning products around to pretty up the broadcast network-quality cast. And mark that ditto on the clothes. There's the one dude who used to work for Google who looks a little sloppy and grew a beard, but couldn't you imagine him looking the same way if he slept under his desk at the Googleplex in our "real world" a time or two?

revolution

And speaking of the Google dude, everyone looks laughably too young for the "15 year" timeline thing to make any sense. There are plenty of flashbacks to the time when the power mysteriously shuts off, and all of the "adults" in the main cast mysteriously look just about the same age in one timeline versus another. Compare this, by the way, to the extraordinary work AMC's Mad Men does in showing Don Draper and others in occasional flashback scenes.  

And then there's the whole Civil War throwback thing. Obviously, life in the United States changes radically if the power goes off forever, but would everything take on a strikingly Civil War-era tilt? While Revolution tries to imbue the proceedings with a sense of swashbuckling adventure – lots of sword fights and the like – it comes off a bit light and silly, really. Things like The Monroe Republic and muskets and weirdly Civil War-ish military garb take me out of the action and make me start thinking of things that lead to this kind of article.

Take it back to The Walking Dead again and consider why in Revolution we don't see things like riot gear and kevlar vests? Surely in a time where swords and arrows are the main weapons of choice, you'd see lots of relics of our "modern age" floating around.

And don't get me started, please, on how the "rules" of Revolution don't really make sense. Steam power works – a recent episode featured a train heist – but nothing involving electricity does… including battery-powered devices. Okay, weird enough, but play that out and shouldn't the world of Revolution be jam packed with steampunk-style technology?        

In any event, if there's one huge and redeeming feature to Revolution, it's Giancarlo Esposito. Give us more Gus Fring, and I'll keep watching. For a while. 

By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

About the author

Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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14 Comments
On: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Thundervega said:

WATCH FULL EPISODE HERE for FREE:

http://tvrecaps.jurichreviews.us/2012/10/the-walking-dead-recaps-reviews-and-info.html

On: Sunday, October 21, 2012
niroe said:

Revolution is NBC, not ABC.

On: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

correction made, thanks !

On: Monday, October 22, 2012
JackSparrow said:

I think its extremely stupid to write an article to completely deface another show without any redeeming qualities whatsoever, and it comes off as you saying "my show is better than your show".

Even the title of the article, I really havent really seen that many people comparing the two shows.

While ive never seen the Walking Dead and it could very well be better than Revolution, I find it hard to believe that there is not one aspect of Revolution (other than Giancarlo Stanton) that is actually on par or better than the Walking Dead. It just sounds stupid when you offer no positive qualities regarding the show. The Walking Dead is definitely not better in "every concievable way".

It just makes you look like a stubborn Walking Dead fan who is not open the the idea of any show being better than his/hers...

On: Monday, October 22, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

First, thanks for the comment. 

I think if you read through you'll see that I'm pretty fair and drop a number of caveats. I offer that the goals of the shows are different, that some people may enjoy Revolution, that Giancarlo Esposito is always worth watching, etc. 

And then I tried to give my fair assessment, based on the fact that I've watched both shows pretty closely throughout their respective runs. 

I like The Walking Dead quite a bit, but I'm by no means a superfan or apologist for it. 

On: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Mark D Curran said:

Honestly, I just don't think it's a fair comparison. The shows are aimed at entirely different demographs, and differerent censorship ratings just wedges the content of both shows further apart. The one qualm I'll always have with the Walking Dead is that it took 2 seasons to find its footing, and still doesn't have any clue what its endgame is. This season, as fast as the first couple eps have been, they can't even properly divide an episode between the two storylines going on, and I can't explain how lowly I think of the "every other week"story  format.

 

As for Revolution: I just don't think any of the major criticisms hold up if you haven't already written the show off. The characters look good, sure - so what? Millions of shopping malls abandoned around the world, you don't think any of it would have been picked up for future use? As for the Google Guy... how old was Mark Zuckerberg when he created Facebook? Give him 15 years and he won't look much older than he did in his 20s.

 

I also think the makeup jobs on Elizabeth Mitchell and Billy Boyd are kind of obvious in the flashbacks, really accenting the toll the loss of power has had on both of them in the present.

And last but not least, I need to get you started on the "rules" of Revolution, because I hear this complaint but it's rarely elaborated upon. Batteries don't work because they lost their charge - they don't last forever. So, they turned off all at the same time - I'm willing to suspend disbelief a little if theres a decent explanation. But what else is at issue here? Just because we haven't seen more steampunk tech doesn't mean it doesn't exist - tech doesn't just invent itself overnight in an over-militarized state, especially right after all the tech you know and understand disappears in an instant. It only took them 5(?) episodes to get to Philly and see a train (an old one at that), yet people were complaining before even the pilot that the lack of trains were a flaw and they wouldn't watch because of it. Guns are outlawed and locked away, manufacturing of firearms and ammunition is obviously halted - I'd expect to see the best of the rebel fighters with Kevlar and whatnot, but not so early in the campaign to save Danny. We've only ever seen single members of the rebellion, never entire units.

On: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Great thoughts as always Mark, and worthy of walking (dead) through quickly. 

* demographics - what's the difference in the intended audience, really? Hipsters versus casual viewers? Comic book geeks versus "families"? Curious what you think about this. 

* "censorship" - TWD is basic cable while Revolution is broadcast, so really not much difference there these days. In fact, one thing I didn't bring up in context of broadcast vs. basic is that TWD manages to look far more realistic on on an AMC-level budget versus a big time hyped and backed (Favreau, Abrams, etc.) and promoted NBC fall series. 

* endgame - Man, I'm someone who enjoys a good story as much as anyone, but you have to have something worth watching in getting from points A to Z. And I think as soon as those dudes showed up in the two near the farm last season (producing a scene as intense as any you'll find on television) I think the balance has been pretty terriffic all told. 

And surely you're not saying that Revolution has a stronger sense of story than The Walking Dead? 

* Revolution's characters look pretty - Dude, if "half the population" got wiped out in the wake of an energy-based apocalypse, these people found a way to get laundry services, beauty products, showers, and make up really on point in its wake. I gave the show a really good look, and it's just one factor that takes me out of the story a bit. 

* technology - My argument is mainly that Revolution has chosen to drape props, technology, names, etc. with a weird Civil War vibe. My takeaway is that it looks like it's done to look "cool" rather than any solid reasoning. I can suspend disbelief over the power issue for a while... but not forever. 

On: Friday, October 26, 2012
Mark D Curran said:

I guess the way that I see it is that demographics are central to the development of a show. Revolution might as well be My Little Pony in comparison to the Walking Dead and its gratuitous (though always welcome) amounts of gore, violence, vulgarity, and everything else that, for some reason, hasn't earned an 18+ rating for the show.

But then this is where censorship comes up, and I couldn't disagree more with you saying there's "really not much difference."  Walking Dead is a horror story first and foremost - Revolution is a mystery. They both have a TV14 stamp, but what makes the cut at AMC certainly wouldn't at NBC. The only reason WD has avoided an 18A rating is the lack of nudity - otherwise, you'd be hard-pressed to find a TV14 show with such explicit dismemberment, machetes to the head, projectile brains, etc.

And as a horror story, Walking Dead is only a show about 1 thing: surviving. Whether or not it continues to draw from the comics will result in 1 of 2 things the way I see it: either more than half the cast is killed off this seasonor next in a single scene (which was poor storytelling in the comics, in my opinion) or they deviate from the story even more and kill everyone off gradually until the show gets cancelled.

At least with Revolution (and I'm not saying it's a stronger sense of story) but it has a forseeable endgame - either the power gets turned on (for better or worse) or it doesn't. The comic book ending to WD wasn't so much of an ending as another way of saying "okay, this is about as shitty as it gets, we're done here." This isn't a show that can pull off "The Wire" finale with life going on as it ever does - life ended in the pilot episode. Either everyone dies, or the survivors find somewhere permanently safe to stay.

I completely understand that the aesthetic and Civil War vibe takes you out of Revolution - it's definitely not the most inspired of themes. Then again, the lack of common sense in WD can take me out of the show for being so horror-cliche. Like Lori crashing her car on a straight road, or everything that Carl did in season 2. And to pull on a recent debate, how did those people in the jail die wearing riot gear? That shit's bullet proof, so I'm assuming it's tooth and claw proof, too? How'd they turn into zombies? There's a lot that doesn't make sense in the WD universe, too, it just seems to be let go because it's "cool."

On: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Your comment about demographics made me think more about this, and I can't help but feel that Revolution was/is billed as a post-apocalyptic drama (with a "hard" sci fi tint, if you tie in this pendant business), and therefore does clearly deserve to be compared against the likes of other a) flat out primetime dramas and b) other post-apocalyptic dramas in particular. 

I'm still not really clear about your point about censorship, either. By that logic all broadcast shows get something of a pass or handicap because they're not allowed to show as much? I don't buy it. Look at Community and Parks and Rec and Friday Night Lights for fellow NBC shows that produced extraordinary television under the same circumstances. And further I'd argue that the much much higher budgets at network should produce high quality results (but obviously they so often do not). 

Very far apart too in terms of "end game." I'm bored enough already with Revolution that I'm an episode or two away from not watching anymore. Whereas with TWD I'm very invested with what happens next. I'd love to see TWD through to the point where the walkers are mostly in the background and we're dealing with the society left in its wake. In that situation the two shows would be very similar in broad strokes, but in the case of TWD I'd be far more confident that we'd get compelling stuff. 

You do make some good points about some logical flaws through the course of TWD. I guess in theory that the riot gear dudes got bit in a place where they were not protected or something! But yes, the thing with Lori was perplexing / annoying (as is her character for the most part). 

But for me the build up to the Shane / Rick standoff and its payoff was very satisfying, for example, the product of great writing and storytelling. 

On: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Creaseyeffbabay said:

dude, what makes u think the riot gear zombies were "bit"? you dont have to bitten to become a zombie, they could have died from other causes. 

On: Thursday, November 8, 2012
creaseyeffbabay said:

and i agree with the fact that the cast of Revolution look too pretty. i watched the pilot episode when it aired and that sole detail made me change the channel. TWD, granted its a zombie apocalypse, is much more realistic, compelling, and enternaining than Revolution.

On: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

great point about the prison guards ! 

On: Saturday, November 10, 2012
Geek said:

I agree that the Walking Dead is by far a superior show, and agree on your points.  The Civil War garb and the lack of guns is really ridiculous (even if you're suspending belief).  The US is probably the most armed country in the world and you expect that this so-called militia has confisicated all the guns in the country - yeah right (on horseback no less).  They've enacted gun control post-apocalypse seriously? 

So what happened to all the street gangs, survivalists, white supremicist militias, cults, military, police officers, and all the others with their guns?  Right, this militia endoctrinated all the military and took out all the gangs, criminals, survivalists, and others that easily.  BS!  Their would be  so much war and territorial fighting with different "warlords" and "leaders."  You expect to beleive some nobody like Munroe would become the supreme leader?   No generals, politicians, gang leaders, criminals to challenge him? 

And wait, they've also got all this time and manpower to be manufacturing civil war garb?  So they've got these sweatshops with people making these uniforms, because they didn't like the camouflage ones that are so readily available.  And they also have blacksmiths making these swords for all these militia men?

 

 

 

On: Friday, November 30, 2012
Christine Dionne said:

we watch both shows here and while my son and I are both obsessive about making sure we watch 'The Walking Dead' the morning after it airs (when it's available through iTunes) we aren't as excited by 'Revolution' and it could be days before we get around to watching it. I think the constant flash backs from everybody's angle might be one of the big problems with that show. It's frustrating to try to keep up with so many different storylines. Emotionally it's just not pulling my in like Walking Dead does. There were episodes that I bawled at - even the 2nd or 3rd time I watched it - and still bother me now.

I think my big kudos to the Walking Dead shows and books is it successfully took a kid from hating reading to HAVING TO HAVE every single book that's available - and READING THEM! Oddly enough it's a show we 'bond' over - and there just isn't that connection with the Revolution.

I have to agree with the article. The Walking Dead is definitely superior.

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