Oh, what a difference a quip makes.
I just recently wrote about my lethargic interest level in the new NBC TV drama "Revolution." All that changed on a dime with last week's episode, for no better reason than a glib reference to a Stephen King novel.
OK, not just any Stephen King novel; the best novel the once-prolific horror writer ever has penned. But we'll get back to that later.
Despite my apathy, my son was hooked on "Revolution" from the get-go, adding it to the DVR and catching up weekly with the action. I remained on the fence, but watched with him ... mostly. The show manages to intrigue while at the same time irritate the heck out of me. How often in a single episode, for instance, can the little groups of wandering survivors of a post-power world survive near-death clashes with bad, bad men?
The answer, so far, it seems: almost constantly.
The evil looks to far outweigh the good in this post-apocalyptic-ish society where all power electric or battery inexplicably went off and the world goes rogue. A militia rules what once was America with a bloody iron fist and kills people at will. Then there are the people who appear to kill just for the heck of it.
Did I mention there's a lot of killing? It's exhausting.
So is the idea of wading through another "Lost"-like mystery of never-ending twists, turns and plots that hinge on bait-and-switch points.
Worse, the characters, for the most part, are annoying.
But my son has been able to overlook those flaws. And when your 14-year-old wants to share an hour with you doing anything on a regular basis, you simply don't let the opportunity pass.
Still, it was almost digging in the old heels last week when my son suggested we watch the "Revolution" episode waiting on the DVR. I told him to turn it on and, while I couldn't stop and sit just then, I'd listen while cleaning house in the TV's direct vicinity.
And so I was, sweeping in fact, when lead character Miles walked into another confusing situation and introduced himself and his niece with an off-the-cuff, sarcastic reference to King's "The Stand."
"I'm Stu Redman, this is Frannie."
I turned around "Hey, that's Stephen King!"
"Huh?" my son asked.
"That Stu and Frannie line, they're characters from a Stephen King novel."
"Yeah, what the heck is he talking about?"
I put down the broom, sat on the couch and that was that. I was in.
I explained that Stu and Frannie are two of the main characters in King's book about an apocalyptic superflu that wipes out most of the planet, save for a few immune survivors who gather into us-and- them communities and ultimately wage a final battle of good vs. evil.
And, with apologies to all my past literature professors, I have to say: Best. Book. Ever.
OK, apologies also to Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Steinbeck, et al. But "The Stand" is just darn great stuff. And in my own literary defense, my next favorite books of all time are "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Little Women," OK?
It dawned on me later that part of my tepid reaction to "Revolution" might have to do with it not living up to the very story it referenced in last week's episode. It wasn't the first time that I'd thought of "The Stand" while watching the show. The ideas play in the same ballpark and the landscape is pretty much the same as the one King depicts in his book barren cities; landmarks overgrown with weeds; empty, rusting cars left strewn like carcasses on abandoned streets.
But if you read "The Stand," you will fall hopelessly in love with the characters that King has created. You just will. Not having a Stu or Frannie to root for made "Revolution" kind of frustrating.
But with that simple reference last week, there's hope for this show, after all. Why? Because there are writers on staff who clearly are fans of King, too, and who are clever enough to reference his works (there was a "Shawshank" nod in the same episode, as well. Miles again).
The reference to Stu and Frannie may have meant as much to a lot of viewers as it did to my son nada. But for me, it was a quick and simple game changer.
Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.