Sep 13, 2012

[TV] Falling Skies: Season 1

Given the large number of science fiction TV shows that don't live to see a second season, I have to admit that I tend to invest extra time and effort into trying to watch these shows and help generate some internet buzz around them when I like them. But even my patience can only go so far - I totally gave up on Terra Nova after the 5th or 6th episode.

Now when I heard about Falling Skies, I'll admit that I had very conservative feelings of interest in the show. The alien invasion concept is a fairly old one and it can be potentially difficult to innovate in this particular arena. And TNT, the channel that carries the show, isn't yet particularly known for being able to put on compelling science fiction TV shows.

But hey, it's not like there was anything else to watch, so might as well make the most of the series for what it was worth. And while it wasn't quite as bad as I had feared, I'll have to admit I'm not quite ready to start demanding fanfic based on the show or anything like that.

Synopsis: Falling Skies is a science fiction drama series created by Robert Rodat and produced by Steven Spielberg for TNT. The first season of the show won Most Exciting Series in the 1st Critic's Choice Television Awards.

It has been 6 months since unknown alien invaders have pretty much taken over Earth. The governments of the world have fallen to the alien armada and a 90% of the population are belived to have been killed or captured. But there are human survivors scattered around the world and one such group has evolved into a full-fledged resisitance movement. They call themselves the Second Massachusetts and are led by retired Captain Dan Weaver (Will Patton) and history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle).

Little is known about what the aliens want with the planet, but there are a few items of interest. First, the aliens seem intent on kidnapping children and attaching organic "harnesses" that turn them into mind-controlled zombies. Second, the are various types of aliens including autonomous mechs, multi-legged skitters and the secretive overlords that seem to be directing the whole invasion. And the story really begins when Tom's missing son, Ben (Connor Jessup) is spotted among the alien captives.

Now in terms of production, you can naturally expect the show to have a lot going for it. Most of the budget clearly went into the spindly-legged walker Mechs since they're present in almost every episode, but they do make for an interesting challenge for the rebels to overcome. We start with them struggling to even bring down just one of those walkers given the disparity in technology between the aliens and the humans. It pretty much stresses how screwed the humans are and just how difficult it must have been to even hope to form a true resistance against the aliens.

They're like evil bunnies

Now it does bother me that a history teacher ended up becoming second in command. And it's not even the notion that maybe Tom is sort of head of the community concerns with Weaver as being in charge of all military decisions. They actually have Tom involved in more strategic decisions mainly because of his knowledge of great military actions in history and is able to use that knowledge to everyone's advantage. Well, at least when he's not mooning over his kid too much.

It's quirky to see Moon Bloodgood in a rather passive / non-combatant role as Anne Glass, who acts as the group's medic. I guess we got so used to her being pretty kick-ass in other action movies that to have her just stuck inside the camp doesn't do much for me. But she still has an interesting intensity when she acts that does make for some interesting scenes.

And that's the dragging bit of sorts in this story. I know they wanted to tease at some of the more central mysteries of the show over time, but really pacing got pretty bad from time to time. Often times it felt like the rebels just weren't really getting anywhere and continued to make silly decisions for one side mission or another. For a resistance cell, they really don't have a clear plan of action for most of the season. But at least they didn't seem as confused and misguided as the resistance groups in V, just for the sake of comparison.

There are quite a number of mysteries that are central to the overall story and it's nice that they do eventually get around to giving us more to process as the season progresses. I still sort of wish that they had revealed a few things a lot earlier than they had originally, but that's water under the bridge for now. And at least they made it to the end of the season relatively alive and giving enough material to justify a second season.

Falling Skies isn't exactly my favorite show by any standards, but it is a pretty decent science fiction series, especially in comparison to other shows of recent memory. Thus this first season of the show gets 3.5 creep harnessed kid behavior out of a possible 5.

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  1. There's always cute, teenage guys in any shows hehehe. I'll probably check the series because of these twinks :)

  2. Haha, your single-minded motivation is always amusing, E.