Each week Times TV critic Mary McNamara offers her viewing picks for the coming week:
"Revolution": NBC recently renewed its out-went-the-lights drama, so the first-season finale will not be any kind of definitive end to the woes of a world in which the power has been out for more than a decade. Still, with all the main characters converging on mysterious Colorado Tower, home to either the ability to turn everything back on or the Philosopher's Stone, it's difficult to imagine the populace will remain in total blackout for much longer.
Electricity, or the lack thereof, has never been the point of "Revolution," although it did allow for some nifty nature-reclaims-its-own visuals. As with any good post-apocalyptic drama, the narrative focuses on the fall of the traditional infrastructure and the rise of its replacement, in this case a group of territorial states, including the fascist Monroe Republic.
Headed by Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons), who has grown sweatier and more paranoid with each successive episode, the Republic and its Militia seek to strangle the rest of the country with its iron grip. Fighting them every step of the way is a loosely organized resistance, including, albeit reluctantly, former Militia officer Miles Matheson (Billy Burke). Drawn out of drunken, guilt-ridden exile by charismatic niece Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), he and the scrappy band he has accumulated must keep the Tower from falling into The Wrong Hands.
What originally seemed a clever treatise on the danger of our technologically addicted society has become a surprisingly nuanced study of human nature. Despite its predictable trumpeting of family, friendship, and sacrifice, "Revolution" fearlessly explores the darker corners of moral ambiguity; its action may be Big Four network (lots of absurd firefights) but its themes are premium cable. Great fun, and often funny -- one purpose of the Tower, it turns out, was to provide former Vice President Dick Cheney with a safe location -- "Revolution" rightly puts its emphasis on character rather than conceit, making it easy to follow Miles and Charlie wherever they go. NBC, Monday, 9 p.m.
"Orphan Black": Another narrative that could have collapsed under the weight of its own gimmickry -- clones, people, lots of clones -- "Orphan Black" has stayed strong and gone deeper than a show in which the star plays a half dozen roles could reasonably be expected to do. Certainly Tatiana Maslany is a force to be reckoned with. A beautiful young performer with chameleon-like qualities, she has managed to make the four main clones--street smart Sarah, OCD Alison, science geek Cosima and crazy assassin Helena--all separate, believable and compelling. It helps that creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson appear to know precisely where they're going with a plot that involves these women attempting to determine their true nature while being tracked by at least two sets of threats. And Maslany has two equally talented wingmen--Jordan Garvaris as Sarah's foster brother Felix and the always wonderful Maria Doyle Kennedy as their foster mother Mrs. S. But in the end, the show rests on her shoulders and beyond all expectations, she continues to soar. Don't miss the season finale. BBC America, Saturday, 9 p.m.
"The Killing": I didn't realize how relieved I was that this troubled series had been saved at the eleventh hour until I watched the two-hour third-season premiere and fell in love with it all over again. Complaints abounded when the first season did not end with the solution of the original crime, but frankly, I don't care if Seattle homicide detective Sarah Linden (Mirelle Enos) and her now former partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnamen) ever solve another case; it's just such a pleasure to watch them work. As season three opens, Linden has turned in her badge for ferry duty and Holder is working his way up the department ladder. But when a string of murders begins reminding Holder of the killer Sarah put away years before (played deliciously by Peter Sarsgaard, which is reason enough to watch), he calls on her for aid. It's nice to see Enos allowed to appear relaxed and even happy, if only for a few minutes, and the skies of Seattle likewise appear to have cleared up. But no matter what season three has in store, or how long "The Killing" lasts, Linden and Holder join the list of greatest police partners television has ever produced. AMC, Sunday, 8 p.m.