Sep 20, 2012

[TV] Falling Skies: Season 2

Now it's not like I'm a major fan of Falling Skies after the first season, but I figured it's not THAT bad so it deserved a chance with its second season. And this is one of the few shows on the air that involves aliens, attack robots and annoyingly convoluted plot lines! What more could a geek ask for?

Well, maybe better acting and more reasonable plot twists, but then that's just me.

The show does have its share of good points and we'll try to address that in this review. There was a distinct change in the tone of things and a fairly distinct effort to sort of up the level of storytelling involved. And I think it's fair to say that things were certainly more complicated this time around.

I guess the challenge is how long they're going to string us, the audience, along with regard to the central plot. We still don't understand what exactly the aliens are up to and at the very least I'd like to have more clues in that direction. Instead we have a big mystery that just remains out there and I wonder if the final reveal will turn out to be one big disappointment.

Synopsis: Falling Skies is a science fiction television series created by Robert Rodat and produced by Steven Spielberg. The series is broadcast on TNT. This second season has received a number of award nominations including a nomination for the Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.

At the end of the first season, our hero Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) had agreed to go with the aliens as part of their arrangement. Now it's three months later and Weaver (Will Patton) and Anne (Moon Bloodgood) remain the pillars trying to keep the 2nd Mass together. Pope (Colin Cunningham) now leads a semi-autonomous group within the 2nd Mass known as the Beserkers. And naturally they come into conflict with Weavers orders time and time again.

But Tom suddenly reappears and now everyone is trying to deal with his return while Tom himself struggles to remember everything that had happened to him while he was with the aliens. Naturally Pope somehow gets to handle the initial interrogation and debriefing upon Tom's return and the 2nd Mass remains uncertain just how much they can trust him. And on the horizon, there's a new cause for hope beyond mere day-to-day survival. Rumors of a new government having been formed, provided the 2nd Mass can actually find them.

I'll admit that I was pretty curious as to how they'd revolve the initial plot quirk of Tom having gone with the aliens. But I think they did in fact handle this plot twist well enough, although I can't quite say the same thing for all the stories after that. They had a few episodes that felt pretty weird to me considering they're still in the middle of surviving the horrors of an alien occupation force and all that. Plus factor in how short the season is and you can't help but wonder if we really needed to invest an episode into this or that strange sub-plot.

First, our younger generation of soldiers as represented by Tom's oldest son Hal (Drew Roy). tend to be rather silly. From strange side missions to the need to snog in the bushes whenever possible, they really haven't learned to make very good decisions. Then you have formerly harnessed Ben (Connor Jessup), who gets to be all weirdly enigmatic given his continued ties to the aliens.

The angle of a surviving Earth government did help provide more direction for the show and something to aim for. But again it seemed to fall somewhat short of my expectations once they got there. I can't go into details for non-spoiler intentions, but needless to say that I kind of hoped that they would have had a better plan in mind.

Outside of character and plot issues, the show is still pretty enjoyable from an action series perspective. You still get a lot of military encounters with the aliens and even the revival of more air support units. Someone has been playing around with the CGI budget or something and helping us move away from the occasional rabbit mech alone. But still it means you have to go through all the drama before you can enjoy the joys of things being blown apart.

Falling Skies does have its interesting moments but from a hardcore science fiction perspective it's not too great a venture. But for your more run-of-the-mill drama piece with science fiction touches, I suppose it isn't that bad. This season gets 3.5 creep alien conversations through speaker kids out of a possible 5.

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