by Ron Wynn
Most networks that don't have many hits, especially those with NBC's recent track record, would be doing everything possible to keep those shows going. Instead, the good folks at The Peacock got carried away by inflated NFL ratings and decided to give a lengthy rest to the only new show that could be deemed a hit in Revolution. They also yanked Grimm and The Voice, though the latter has always been a seasonal proposition.
Four months later, tonight's return of Revolution (WSMV-Channel 4, 9 p.m.) signals both a new creative direction and the start of a referendum on whether the time off was a savvy or ultra-dumb gamble. The thematic stakes have been raised considerably with bad boy Monroe (David Lyons) now in possession of power and technology, and anxious to use them. His viciousness towards the rebels will trigger a host of reactions, among them a split between Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and his son Jason (JD Pardo).
Jason will try to find solace and align himself with the rebels and Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), who is both attracted and repelled by someone formerly in the opposition camp. The producers are branding this a Romeo and Juliet scenario — Shakespeare for the post-electrical age — but one thing is certain. There will be far more action (or violence if you prefer) in the remaining episodes, as well as a companion love story designed to bring back the youthful viewers who've gone on to other things during Revolution's absence.
The network's possible trump card is that both Castle and Hawaii Five-O are nearing season's end, while Revolution still has about half a year's worth of fresh shows. Also, Revolution got a great boost from The Voice in the fall, part of the justification NBC used for pulling it off the air during the winter.
For those who watch that show, it also returns tonight (WSMV-4) at 7 p.m. with a pair of new substitute judges. Usher and Shakira are in, while Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera are out, at least for now. Reports in the tabloid/gossip publications seem to indicate everything is proceeding smoothly in the transition, but the most important thing for NBC is whether The Voice can still provide the same audience power it did before.
The Game kicks off
BET's most popular show, The Game, returns 9 p.m. Tuesday with new cast members, as the program about the antics of a pro football team on and off the field begins its sixth season. Both Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Pooch Hall, part of the original cast, have departed, and the hour-long premiere addresses that situation. Jay Ellis and Lauren London are new regulars, but the opener puts the spotlight squarely on longtime regular Hosea Chanchez. His character Malik, the Sabers' mercurial QB, has long been a focal point due to bad decisions and character flaws.
Malik had been dutifully fighting his demons and staying sober for months, but upon discovering his friend has been traded he goes on a rampage and falls off the wagon. What happens from that point sets the stage for pivotal developments throughout the season.
It has been another stellar season for FX's Justified. The Drew Thompson (Jim Beaver) storyline has seen the wily Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) adopting even more unusual approaches to crime solving, while still trying to deal with the fallout from his odd (to put it mildly) relationship with pregnant ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea). And there's been a great character role this season for comic Patton Oswalt, whose fight to the death last week with a sadistic assassin was perhaps the season's most cathartic moment.
The April 2 season finale (9 p.m.) will feature some major fireworks. These include another duel between Givens and frenemy Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) — a tussle to anticipate, as their last battle left Crowder with a bullet in the chest — and fiery interaction between Givens and Winona, which may not end in a manner either desires.
As always, Justified won't conclude in a predictable fashion. That's one of its strengths, along with superb acting and direction and twangy, funny, pungent dialogue worthy of the master, Elmore Leonard. But this time, Givens may discover what he thought he wanted cost far more than it was worth.