Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Revolution" Sci-Fi Fail: Wrigley Field Will Never Be Overgrown with Shrubbery

In watching the Olympics on NBC, every third commercial break or so they're running ads for an upcoming big budget program, trying to capitalize on the Lost audience and grabbing some of the Y: The Last Man aesthetic without actually going there.  Plus: swords for some reason.

The premise of the show seems to be that for some reason, the world has lost the ability to have electricity, and possibly all modern conveniences.  Except for make-up and hair-care product.  This is NBC, after all.

I won't go into too much of what I think looks a little dippy from the commercial, but it was already enough to tell me I wasn't all that interested in the usual network attempt at sci-fi that always feels like a frat-dude trying to put together a sci-fi idea from the bits and pieces they liked on some other show, but, you know, where the chicks aren't all weird or dogs or nuthin' and we're not going to make it all lame.  Oh, and the new lantern-jawed lead is now the all-purpose 20-something-haunted-girl-Mary Sue.  Check and check.

What struck me as a sign of failure (and this is based on a show I haven't seen and don't really understand the premise) was that, to try to earn some sign of how bad things have become in the wake of us having to live like it's 1915 or so again, the commercial shows Wrigley Field has become barricaded by trees and overgrowth, with vines crawling up the front of the building.

their sci-fi premise is, of course, that the The Cubs could get into the playoffs this year

Here's the thing:  No.

Unless part of the plot of this show is that everyone on the North Side of Chicago died for some reason, and this show takes place 100 years after that event, no.  And, according to the website, it's about 15 years after "things turn off".  No cars, no electricity, no iPhone.

Look, I'm not a baseball fan.  I haven't got the patience.  I'm barely aware of the Cubs' lineup this year although I know what a great hitter Rizzo is turning out to be.  And thanks to Twitter I know how handily they defeated the Pirates today (14-4!  Cubs Win!).

It's not enough that Wrigley sits in the middle of square mile of concrete in the middle of a major metropolitan area and the space they show as grown over has had cement on top of it for 100 years.  So, you know, it's not going to go wild overnight.  I mean, if that were a dirt lot, sure.  But...

I guess, to my point about not understanding what the show is about - if anybody on the Northside makes it out alive, I have a pretty good feeling that a little lack of modern convenience isn't going to actually stop baseball from happening so long as there's still sunlight, bats and balls.

I'm not suggesting the MLB will survive the end of the world, but call me crazy if I have a little more faith in humanity than to believe the loss of the use of a garbage disposal is going to immediately lead to roving gangs of marauders and the complete collapse of people basically wanting to make it work.   I'm not saying it wouldn't suck.  It would.  Lots of people would die, not the least of which is every person on an airplane who suddenly finds themselves in a flying brick.  But we made it for a really, really long time as a planet without electricity, et al.  We found stuff to burn for light and heat our homes for a few dozen millenia before Edison patented the bulb.  We even developed sports we could play outside in daylight.

I'm sure there will be some melancholy speech about how suddenly nobody cared about baseball once the lights went out.  It'll be real sad, and it's going to show exactly. how. bad. things. have. gotten.

Pardon my french, but:  bullshit.

The minute after people get the food and shelter thing figured out, they're going to start looking for symbols of what was once good in times of trial.  Wrigley Field never saw a night game before 1988, and the people of Chicago's Northside would remember that.  If anything, Wrigley Field would be a cathedral to the permanence of institutions, both before and after.  Nothing about having to walk a few streets over or take the horse and buggy rather than the El says you can't sit in the stands and let the lake breeze blow in while you watch some guys trot out and bat a few innings on a sunny day.

Maybe I believe too much in the better angels of our humanity (something Jamie would immediately scoff at me for trying to claim), but if you want to get sci-fi right, it's not about how bad-ass of a dark future you can map out.  It's trying to make that world buy-able and believable and remembering what people are like or how they can be in situations that we can only imagine.

And maybe NBC is just really, really underestimating Cubs fans and what it means to keep showing up after 100 years of what these people have been through.  If they can survive Bartman, they can survive a little global power failure.  As long as there aren't nuclear bombs falling from the sky, someone's going to be out there with a push mover making sure someone in a Cubbies uniform can play ball.

At least The Omega Man had the common courtesy to show how crazy Cheston had gone trying to maintain a normal life knowing he was the last man alive in a Manhattan overrun by zombies.

In a way, I welcome NBC trying to get onboard with the Sci-Fi Dystopian program for audiences who get spooked by anything that's not Everybody Loves Raymond.  Trying to force this sort of thing repeatedly down the throat of Middle America may mean we've turned a corner and are ready for the edgier sci-fi to quit digging around in dystopian muck and begin considering the wonders of what could be.  It may be time again for a sci-fi where we haven't already failed to learn the cautionary tale.

But will I watch it?  Oh, yes.  Why?  I support one piece of their casting.


Anonymous said...

Most of the people died of disease and starvation. The rest abandoned the cities. To see how fast nature can reclaim cities I suggest you watch life after people or a one of the documentaries on Chernobyl.

The League said...

I have! Those shows are super neat.

I think I have more faith in Cubs fans (and the general stubbornness of people) than the producers.