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Primal Screen

J.J. Abrams' 'Revolution'

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Revolution (9pm Mon, NBC)
J.J. Abrams’ series plunges you into an alternate reality. Ben (Tim Guinee) hurries home to tell his wife (Elizabeth Mitchell), “It’s happening.” And then “it” abruptly happens. The electricity shuts off all around the world. We see stunning images of lights going out down a highway, then all around the Earth.

Fast-forward 15 years, and the world has reverted to a chaotic state. Humans huddle in small clans, armed with primitive weapons. Militias terrorize the countryside, controlled by a warlord named Monroe (David Lyons). Ben’s teenage daughter (Tracy Spiridakos) heads off on a quest to find her surviving uncle (Billy Burke) in hopes of protecting her extended family from Monroe’s depredations.

There’s lots more to tell, but I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises for you. All I’ll say is: Watch. This. Program. The premise is beautifully thought through, both in the plot and the imagery. The apocalyptic scenario isn’t the downer you’d expect, thanks to thrilling action scenes and a welcome streak of humor. The actors make you care about the characters — though don’t get too attached to any of them, since they’re prone to die or turn traitor on you.

Who knew that the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it could be so wonderful?

Yukon Men (9pm Fri, Discovery)
Discovery’s gorgeously filmed reality series ventures into the Alaskan tundra to chronicle a small town’s struggle for survival. The 200 people in Tanana are facing the worst winter in a century, with 60-below temperatures. There are no roads into Tanana, but wolves know how to get there. “Their jaws snap shut at 1500 pounds of pressure per square inch, easily enough to tear a man apart!” explains the sadistic narrator. If the wolves don’t get you, the “monster bears” will. And if you do happen to live to see another day, you can enjoy eating your sled dog for dinner.

As horrible as it is in Tanana, I can’t feel sorry for the residents, who chose to live there. But the poor cameraman who obviously drew the short straw back at Discovery headquarters? Him I feel sorry for.

The Mob Doctor (8pm Mon, Fox)
We know viewers like shows about hot single women. They also like shows about doctors and shows about mobsters. Hey, how about a show about a hot single woman doctor who works for the mob? It can’t miss! Grace (Jordana Spiro) is a plucky South Side Chicago girl who became a big-city surgeon, hoping to make a difference. (Sorry, but that’s an exact quote from the script.) Unfortunately, her family is mixed up with mobsters — the kind of TV mobsters who, for some reason, look and talk like characters in a 1930s James Cagney movie.

In the pilot, Grace must decide whether to follow their orders and kill a stoolie on the operating table. As if that weren’t enough excitement for one episode, she also gets in a life-or-death car chase, has sex with a hunky colleague, engineers an illegal operation on a pregnant 14-year-old, and keeps quiet when the mob boss offs a guy right in front of her.

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