‘Falling Skies’ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 19th, 2011 at 11:00 pm,

falling skies cast premiere Falling Skies Series Premiere Review & Discussion

TNT’s new science fiction drama Falling Skies debuts tonight in a special two-hour premiere. Does the show live up to nearly a year’s worth of hype?

Falling Skies begins about two steps after most alien invasion movies and TV shows: humanity has lost. There’s no valiant struggle showcasing the indomitable human spirit, no gotcha plot twists with Earth bacteria, no life-saving computer virus or solo mission to the mothership. The “Skitters” invaded six months ago, wiped out nine tenths of humanity, destroyed every military force, major city, as well as all electronics, and still have enough occupying forces to round up the dregs.

Even so, there are pockets of stubborn resistance. In one such pocket called “The 2nd Massachusetts” we find Tom Mason (Noah Wyle of The Librarian TV movies) – former history professor turned freedom fighter. He’s second-in command to the gruff and uncompromising veteran Weaver (Will Patton, Armageddon) overseeing 100 fighters and 200 civilians as they roam the eastern seaboard.

The fighters like to think of themselves as humanity’s last stand, but they’re really supplying just enough discipline for the lot of them to effectively travel as well as scavenge food and other resources. The youngest member of Tom’s unit is a hardened soldier of thirteen, and most of them are more comfortable with PlayStation shooters than their stolen AK-47s.

falling skies premiere noah wyle sarah carter jesse schram Falling Skies Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Tom’s motivations are split: he’s desperate to protect his teenage son Hal (Drew Roy) and younger son Matt (Maxim Knight) while still trying to find his third son Ben. The middle Mason has been captured by the Skitters along with thousands (or millions) of other children, and fitted with a “harness,” an alien device implanted on the spinal column that makes the victim helpless and cooperative.

Given the relatively novel setup, Falling Skies has a lot more in common with Jericho or The Walking Dead than Battle: Los Angeles and Independence Day. The resistance is constantly running, searching for food and shelter, and suddenly EMS workers and shade-tree mechanics are more valuable than MBAs. The needs of the “military” and civilians are at constant odds, setting up some strained confrontations between Weaver and the civvies’ spokeswoman Dr. Glass (Terminator: Salvation‘s Moon Bloodgood).

falling skies premiere will patton Falling Skies Series Premiere Review & Discussion

While the mood of the show is generally reserved, as the survivors struggle to stay together, there’s enough action across eighty minutes to keep the attention of TNT viewers who are used to cops & robbers fare. Even when not engaging the aliens, there’s enough paramilitary equipment and jargon to warrant repeat airings at the next NRA convention. A scene with a group of ill-tempered bandits has tension and action in commendable portions.

The only significant unresolved plot point following the two-hour pilot is the captured children held in sway by the alien harnesses. The audience is left wondering why the Skitters want the kids, and whether or not the survivors will ever be able to rescue and “cure” their captured family members. I’m looking forward to discovering what the aliens want with the kids – and why they spare children while killing adults indiscriminately.

Falling Skies displays impressive consistency and world-building. After the EMP bombardment, only pre-1980s vehicles still function, so the resistance has to make do with rusted out pickup trucks, ancient muscle cars and dilapidated motorcycles. The 2nd Massachusetts’ biggest military asset is a 50-caliber assault gun mounted on a GTO. The fighters have to rely on paper maps, scouts and runners to plan and execute movements across suburbia – using action figures as markers. The landscape is littered with the detritus of a ruined society, with cars and garbage strewn across the streets.

falling skies moon bloodgood maxim knight Falling Skies Series Premiere Review & Discussion

There’s a big focus on the surviving children and teenagers – a risky maneuver that pays off. The opening scene with Matt Mason, who refuses to assume that his father and brother are still alive, is heartfelt. The recurring theme of children forced to grow up immediately illustrates the desperation of the survivors.

While sets, costumes and practical effects are excellent, the same can’t be said for the computer-generated portion of the premiere. The aliens and their bipedal walkers look like they belong in a SyFy made-for-TV movie, and the producers know it, hiding shots of the Skitters and Walkers with scenery or dark environments. Even so, it’s hard to be too upset at lackluster effects – even with Spielberg’s name attached, Falling Skies is surely dealing with a tight budget, and the funds are certainly better spent building an immersive world than polishing the inhuman CGI monsters.

falling skies alien walker Falling Skies Series Premiere Review & Discussion

A bigger problem is the general lack of character in the main cast. Performances from Wyle and Bloodgood are competent but bland, and the only truly memorable characters on display in the premiere are Will Patton’s unsympathetic military commander and a predictably evil redneck. An improvised biology class comes off a lot more genuine than Tom’s lament over his captured son. The performances may get better as the actors get a stronger handle on their characters and the fictional world – but they’re definitely the low point of the debut.

Falling Skies has more going for it than against it, and is worth a watch for science fiction fans looking for something new. A visceral, dilapidated landscape and survivalist mentality help gloss over the bad computer effects and mediocre acting. The  short-term goal of rescuing Ben and nigh-impossible task of overthrowing the invaders warrants a look from those hungry for an interesting summer series.

Falling Skies premieres June 19th at 9PM on TNT.

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  1. I think the show is great. Ya, it’s a little “sketchy” around the edges, but what do you expect. This is a show trying to do something new, in an already overdone genre. My only complaint, and it’s a biggie, is the commercial interuptions. Episode 3 went like this: 5 minutes of show, then a 4 minute commercial “break”. 5 minutes of show, and another 4 minute commercial break. I couldn’t take it anymore and changed the channel. It’s too hard trying to keep up with the story like this. Commercials ruined other great shows (like Lost), and will be the undoing of this one as well. The total airtime for this episode was 41 minutes of show in a 1 hour block. Totally rediculous. Thank God for Pirate Bay, and EZTV!

  2. The aliens are psychic??? Nooooooo, not again! That is all I can say; for crying out loud – – – Hollywood writes are lazy and ignorant [regarding the psychic link between the harness and the “alien”]. Just stupid.

    Given the dropped comment last week about the mechs being bipedal and the skitters not – and the complete disregard for the life of the [biological] skitters [being much easier to kill than the mechs] I was holding out hope for something different. That maybe we hadn’t seen “the aliens” yet – that mechs were maybe just fighting machines and skitters the equivalent of trained dogs. Would have at least been more interesting than *@(&*@ psychic *CRAP*. And these aliens security is sooooooooo bad; they could really do with training some dogs.

  3. It’s Spielberg formula, which I tend to find grating and overly obvious. The shots of people, their relationships and the music sells a classic Spielberg ideal which I find is worn out, two tone and overwrought… there doesn’t appear to be much nuance and it doesn’t hold my attention… I find the writing annoying and obvious. I’ll hold on a little longer but am not hopeful.

    • Well maybe they were differnt bombs

    • I agree. I am trying to stay with it but it is like a daytime soap opera.
      The plot drags and appears to be going nowhere. If the writers are listening you guys need to come together with more intense drama scenes and more interesting dialog between the characters. One more thing why are all the African American characters dying and have no strong parts? Did the aliens kill them all!!!!

  4. Remember the movie “Signs” with Mel Gibson? The aliens traversed who knows how many light years to invade earth only to be unable to get into the basement of Mel’s house where everyone was holed up. Falling Skies is like that. A bunch of humans roving around in broad daylight unseen. Even worse, when the fighters attempt to come near the aliens they always manage to drop a tile off a roof, go after a dog who is barking ferociously at the alien(s), or stand up and call out to one of the harnessed kids thereby exposing themselves to the enemy. Somehow though, they manage to get away relatively unscathed. What is the problem with writing and producing a decent science fiction series? The producers need to kidnap Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and the writers from Mad Men and The Killing. Those aren’t science fiction shows, but good writing is good writing.

    • I was so excited i was when the series started and now i am equally disapointed. There are so many things that are wrong I dont want to mention, but when I watch syfy I expect to see aliens, last nights episode took over 30 min into the show before we saw the alien and then for a short moment. We spent the entire episode dealing with the humans drama, why? thats the last thing I care about. So, the aliens have taken over earth and we are just learning about them, hello they have wiped out our military and we dont know anything? Give information about them what do they eat? what about there young? ect ect. If I Want human drama I will go to lifetime channel (yuk) If TNT wants to call it syfy thats what it should be, aliens and battles, explosions and alien spaceships. I belive this is the first and the last season for falling skies. By the way I could not even finish last nights episode.

    • Thank you! I thought I was the only one who sees a lot of problems with this show. Namely, Bad science, and bad fiction.

      This is the USA. More guns then people. Much more. Since they are fighting for their lives, and for survival of the species, shouldn’t everyone be fighting? Shouldn’t they all have guns and be ready, just in case?

      So many things wrong. So many upbeat characters, only six months after the end of the world. “Science can’t explain space ships” headline.

      I can only shake my head.

  5. Come on everyone, at least it’s SF. I’ll take a sub-par Science Fiction show to Dancing with thr B-actor’s or American Idiot any day. Every one griped about Stargate Universe, but i thought that it got better each week, but the damage was done and now it, along with V & the Event are history. We NEED SF on American Telly, or i guarantee the alternatives are much, much worse! I love the BBC SF show Outcasts! The Brits know what I’m talking about. Give it a chance, or the only place we’ll find SF is on a gaming console!

  6. Skitters, they taste like chicken! LOL

  7. Pilot of the show was great. 2nd episode great too, but does anyone else think that we got 20 minutes of episode and 40 minutes of commercials?

  8. I love postapocalyptic movies and tv shows. This show can be great but it has a pretty illogical moments. Someone has mentioned the bomb before me. I am wondering about alien technology too.
    Human spy satellites from time of cold war were able to detect smoke from human ass and aliens, who traveling in space and conquered entire Earth are not able to detect groups of 300 people?
    Funny and arrogant idea to think that sci fi watchers are imbeciles…
    I could like the show but these moments are really disturbing.
    I hope the show will improve in the following episodes.

  9. It’s awful, absolutely terrible. Apart from the production errors, such as the main character, a professor of military history, standing in front of a war memorial that’s obviously in Canada due to the dates on the inscription, Falling Skies is failing in all the ways that other series like ‘The Event’ ‘Flash Forward’ and ‘V’ have, by trying to incorporate a soap opera element into the storyline so that it can broaden its appeal.

    Some people like science fiction, and a different group of people likes soap opera…very few people like both and will therefore watch a series which is a combination of the two.

    I watched the first episode online; and that was enough for me.

    • Love the show.

  10. This show sucks ass. Absolutely nothing original to sustain my interest. This show needs to be relegated to the trash bin where it belongs before anymore good money is wasted on it!

    • It seems the vast majority of comments here agree this show is one of the worst. The sooner it’s cancelled the better! Battlestar Galatica may have been one of the last intelligent Sci Fi shows on TV. In the meantime we can only hope and wish that something decent will appear again!
      Even good Sci Fi movies at the theater or on TV have been sparse, but when done right, they’ve topped the box office numbers over and over again.

    • Love It! Go watch the bachelorette.

  11. The Spielberg brand has trashed its rep here. I see a series with the depth of a daytime soap along with cheesy effects and atrocious writing. An irritatingly useless show that’ll be profitable with advertisers for a couple of months until it’s canceled. Spielberg’s name will have to prove itself to me again, like any unknown, before I’ll spend an hour with his shows again. Sorry.

  12. I tried, I really tried, but after watching for the third week, I can no longer stomach the lame acting, the tinkling single key piano rifs and the totally juvenile, soapy storyline. The kids, the kids, the kids, the kids. Enough of the kids! The final straw was the girl starting a hand holding prayer circle saying grace before breaking Pope’s fresh baked bread! I’m actually beginning to cheer on the alien’s at this point. At least they seem to be secular, although who knows, maybe they pray to Aqua Buddah!

      • What’s wrong with the prayer? It’s a symbol of hope and faith, which exactly what you would need to survive after this kind of catastrophe.

  13. Way out of topic but, why is there an ad for the worst bi-sexual singer in the world at the top of the page?

    • Yay!!! It changes!
      Continue ranting

  14. This show is hokey, even stupid; saying it has bad writing would be a compliment. The effects are CHEAP and 3rd rate … all of which is what I WOULD expect from hack Steven Spielberg. This guy had his 15 minutes of fame dragged on tooooooo long with Star(less) Wars already. (Samuel L Jackson, Bronx accent and all as a Jedi??? Slap forehead! )

    Falling Skies has a CHEAP look, CHEAP feel, CHEAP effects, CHEAP actors and a St Vincent dePauls script. Noah Wylie couldn’t over-act his way out of a wet paper bag, and thank god they killed off Steven Weber, another incredibly horrible OVER ACTOR! In fact everyone in this cast is horrible and should be working at Goodwill Industries learning a new occupation …. acting isn’t working for them!

    The writing is like a jigsaw puzzle, unfortunately the parts are from 100 prior Sci-Fi Alien’s Attack the Earth TV shows and B movies with a smattering TV Westerns thrown in for good measure, all in the same puzzle box. Connectivity between personalities is non-existent and characters are absurd. Will Patton and Dale Dye are caricatures from Apocalypse Now. Everyone is sleepwalking through their parts. Wait, maybe they are actually asleep!

    If it weren’t that TNT is desperate for anything to put on the Boob Tube, this show would been canceled after episode 1, if it made it to even a Pilot screening at all. I’m sure that putting it on at 10PM Sunday’s has saved it this long, since everyone is already asleep by the time it goes on the air.

    This pathetic show make V look like the production quality of Titanic the movie.

    Falling Skies gets 5 Burned Popcorn’s and one well used snot rag rating. Please don’t watch it, surely you have something better to do, like iron clothes or de-flee your dog?

    • Webster Phreaky…you have written the BEST and most accurate review yet. FYI: they just renewed the show for a second season! This should surprise no one when good decent shows continue to be cancelled!

  15. Hard to believe this show has been renewed for a second season when The Event was so much better was cancelled after one season.

    • So true…so true

  16. This series reminds me of a book (or triology?) I read when in junior high school back in the 1950’s. I can’t come up with the title, though.

    Alien invasion, humanity on the run, mind control devices (mesh skull caps in the book,) and kids leading the fight to eventually defeat the invaders.

    Does this ring a bell with anyone? Can anyone remember the name?

    • There is a book by Robert Heinlein titled “The Puppet Masters” in which e.t. aliens in the form of slugs attach themselves to the back and neck of humans in order to gain complete mind control. It was an anti-commie parable for the dark days of the McCarthy era. Don’t know if this is the one you’re thinking of. There was a movie made of this in the late 80’s or early 90’s with Donald Sutherland.

    • I was thinking of the exact same book.

  17. I love this show! It is my new favorite, and I wish there were more episodes this season. I can’t wait for next season also. I think it is absolutely great in every way!

    • I hope it makes it to another season. It’s a good show. It’s nice to watch something out of the ordinary for a change. And it certainly isn’t a reality show for once!

  18. well after stargate universe went off the air there wasnt any good shows on I mean this is the only decent scifi show left. And the show is getting more interesting every week like tonights episode revealed the skitters are actually slaves to a different race. But since alot of you guys hate this show maybe we can see if tnt would like to replace it with a different scifi show like maybe a new season of stargate universe.

    • no this is a good show but i also agree with you because there are too many commercials and was there even a 2 hour season finale for episode 10 or is there gonna be one more episode cause i did not see it and i think the episodes should end at the end of summer not 2 weeks before and also the was kind of a crappy way to end it but if there is a 2 hour season finale i take that back

  19. we have been around when the first movie of “war of the worlds” first showing and we have enjoyed other sci-fi movies, falling skies in our opinion is one of the best. We can hardly wait for next series to start. Hopefully there will not be to many commericals. You have a good series.

    • yes i mean c’mon i know that you are tryin to make money but you dont need that much

  20. We are both in our60s and we love Falling Skies! We are anxiously waiting for another season.

  21. If there’s a category in the Guiness World Book of Records for the most boring sci if tv series then Falling Skis would win hand down. The first sign was the opening scene for the pilot where thru a series of children’s crayon drawings and a VoiceOver claim how the invasion started and how mankind lost.
    From then till now all I ever see when I tune in is talk,talk,talk,kiss,talk,talk,kiss,talk,talk and talk. No one can convince me that this show is either written by women or for women. This is definitely not a guys sfi if show. And I have seen them all. No A rated producer can help this stinker I’d be surprised if if this show makes it to its end. I can’t wait till The Walking Dead is back. Falling Skis sucks and so does Noah Wyle what a boring and horrible actor.