‘Falling Skies’ Series Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 3 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.

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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.

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

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider

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119 Comments

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  1. So boring!!! I really don’t care what happens next.

    • Yeah it was boring. I lost interest. It was a lot like the Walking Dead except with aliens. Like the second part of FS with them getting kidnapped happened in TWD. But TWD just did it better. Ill give FS a few weeks but its off to a very slow start.

  2. I liked it…. Good Sunday night watch… Like the little history with it too.

  3. “Falling Skies’ off to a somewhat slow start. But It’s worthy to keep following.Being 10 episodes may be painting the characters in slower brush strokes.I really need to watch a few episodes before judging most any show this one included.

  4. How come I don’t know any ‘regular’ females like those on tv? Y’know, the kind who look great wearing nothing more than a burlap sack & even when they first get up out of bed in the mornings they still look as if they just stepped out of a salon? In a perfect world I guess….

  5. The doctor asked what we’d be in 400 years.
    The outlaw said the invasion was the best thing that could happen.
    Could the invasion be us in 400 years coming back to kill us off and start over to avoid some ghastly evolution?

  6. I’ll give it one more week since Spielberg is involved. Thought it was way too slow and really want them to get to the back story. The resistance vs. outlaws stuff wasn’t interesting at all and if they keep doing in that direction this will be a pass for me. Too bad, hype was great for this show.

  7. For someone who has enjoyed stuff like “JERICHO”, “DARK SKIES”, “BATTLE: L.A.” and occasionally “V”, “FALLING SKIES” is not rocking my boat. Perhaps the series will get better with time. Who knows?

  8. I didn’t find it to be that bad. Slow yeah, but there was a lot of story to put into it. I like the fact that we skipped the entire invasion part and are starting off straight from the struggle for humanities survival. It wasn’t the best series premier I have ever seen, but it certainly isn’t the worst. It’s worth giving at least a few more weeks to see if it pans out, either way.

  9. This show was painful to watch. I doubt that I will continue viewing in the future. Acting: Bad. Plot: Bad. The aliens should wipe the cast and crew out just so acting and directing this bad is removed from the universe. Speaking of aliens, how can they take over an entire world with targeting systems that were built by the galaxy’s lowest bidder? Are we the only species that has infrared technology?

  10. Agree with most points made here…good and bad..but will give it a few more Sundays just because Spielberg is involved! Hopefully it will get better…

  11. Show is real bland, hopefully it will get better…the resistance doesn’t seemed to concerned with taking cover at all, they just kind of wander around during the day time.

  12. it seemed like a little show with lots of commercials. hard to get into
    it with only 10 minutes of show followed by 10 minutes of commercials. turned it off. the pits, i have waited all week for it.

  13. Incredibly dissapointing, coming from Stevie SP. All the hype didn’t live up to it’s deliveration. Once again, Alien television series fail to keep up with tv audience, that’s why many people, like me, have basic cable. The action wasn’t enough, and was very lame. Example, during the fight when they go and find food, an alien gets shot with a shotgun and everyone at the end stares at the alien dying. Then they feel for the alien…really? Why the heck would they just stand there and feel for the alien’s feelings? Wouldn’t you want to put a few more bullets in it’s head, kick it a few times and smash it’s head againts the ground to make sure it really died, then look at it and say, “yeah, it’s dead!” Not worth wasting my time listening to all the commercials. I give it 2 stars.

  14. Falling Skies… are you serious Steven Speilberg? You totally ripped off “V”, “Stargate SG1″ and “Lost”. I thought the objective was not to be cliche. And what’s with all sentimental moments? I don’t even know the characters well enough to be emotional… not trying to sound like a hater but that was not worth the hype… oh and the animation of the robots looked like something from an insanely low budget syfy film.

  15. Well, at the rate the majority of television programming has declined into sewage for the last several years, perhaps they oughta just take a page from the Hollywood big screeners playbook these days & start doing re-makes of popular old shows from way back, when tv was less polluted with crap! Hell, they couldn’t be any worse than the brain dead sludge saturating the networks nowadays.

    • You mean like Hawaii Five-O, V, Battlestar Galactica, Dallas, La Femme Nikita and Charlie’s Angels? :)

  16. Missed it but will catch it next week. Most reviews seem kind of negative. Perhaps it will improve or the next couple of episodes.

  17. Wow, such negative posts.

    I personally enjoyed it and thought it got off to a better start than either “V” or The Event so I’m hopeful it will be better than either of those two shows.

    • Mongoose, I really liked it too, evn though I am no fan of Wylie lol.

    • are you serious? you cant compare this with the event! the event is wayyyyyyyyyyy much better! this is the biggest disapointment this year especialy from spielberg

  18. a few bets based on the first two hours of Falling Skies …
    @aliens implant the children into the mechs (this goes back as far as Heinlein). this is why the mechs are metal and the one killed in the armory tried to speak.
    @Ben (Noah’s kid) will be rescued by episode 4, poked and probed by episode 6 and cured – leading to an uprising by the mechs, who aren’t too smart. we’ll find skitters program the mechs and there aren’t nearly as many skitters as we thought.
    @The mechs and skitters will never use real force to set up traps at food and weapon supplies or mount a scorched earth policy of the site they dont need with those cool fliers. And still will not be able to shoot themselves in the foot despite a four-laser sighter system.
    @six legs means spiders, which means a method used to kill earth spiders will be adapted. probably dealing with a hive mind — one goes, they all go.
    @the humans will continue to wander aimlessly in the open, camping in valleys, while the fighters’ quarters show absolutely no dust or anything else from six months of occupation. They will look hot even without a source of clean water.
    @Noah’s character will finally intercede on behalf of the civilians. But we will never learn why a history prof is given a gun and told to fight while other people probably just as qualified stay out of the battle.
    @Good ol’ American know-how will win the day with 80s tech (at least that that still works) against a race that came a long way to take over the planet. Thanks goodness for muscle cars that, as far as I can tell given there’s no electricity to run pumps, dont need gas very often.
    @We’ve already met the Others equivalent from Lost, so it’s natural we will discover the freedom fighters aren’t all squeaky clean and see this as a chance for redemption.\
    @Clean up of six billion bodies, not to mention animals, will never be addressed. No mass graves and no God-awful smell that anyone who’s smelled a dead body will ever forget. But there will be time for lacrosse.
    @The resistance leader will be killed early on, leaving Noah’s character torn between recovering his son and leading his band of folks to safety. He will accomplish both by sheer coincidence and knowledge of history.
    @The aliens will be chased off earth – though comparing the French blowing up an occasional Nazi petrol storage (or any small-scale sabotage) that could be considered a pain will hardly be enough to run them. Chances are we will see aliens actually have a soul and prayer will sneak in somewhere.
    @Most of us will DVR it if the premiere’s limited commercial time ate 40 minutes of the show’s two hours.

  19. “Noah Wyle of The Librarian TV movies”

    Is that really his most famous role? Seriously, thats what you’re going to use?

  20. Spielberg is done. A.I. War of the Worlds. Indiana Jones 4. Transformers 1 and 2. Super 8. All quite bad. It’s time for new blood.

    • Super 8 was excellant. Dunno what movie you watched. Falling Skies was good as well IMO. It reminded me of old school V.

      • Well on you recommendation Anthony, I might check it out.

    • AI was only half Spielbergs fault, it was always going to be bad.

      War Of The Worlds. Got no real issues with it.

      Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Not half as bad as people think, and Spielberg didn’t write it.

      Transformers. All he did was serve as executive producer as he has done on countless movies.

      Super 8. Remains to be seen by me.

      • DSB, check out Kofi’s review for Super 8, it was pretty much dead on I thought. For me, I just loved the film, it was fun to see a kids Science Fiction film.

    • Yes I agree he should retire

  21. It was so boring, even the aliens were falling into a coma.

  22. The series was… ok. They have the obligatory characters… black guy who’s gonna get killed, young blonde female hottie who’s in lust with the young male hottie, braniac white guy turned tough guy leader and asian guy who can fix things. By the end of hour two, though, the five minute commercial breaks were driving me BONKERS!!! Now I remember the reason I quit watching network tv 20 years ago. I’ll stick with amc series, namely mad men & breaking bad, designed for adults by creators that have enough intelligence to assume the audience understands the plot and limits commercial breaks to tolerable 2 minute blocks every 15 minutes.

  23. I thought FS was pretty good. Much better than most of the new shows from the last couple of years. I grew up with the original “V” and it reminded me very much of that show…similar pacing anyway. It is definitely much better than the current incarnation of “V”. There are some inconsistencies(like the daylight hikes out in the open…maybe the skitters are mostly nocturnal?), but overall I enjoyed the show. Not as great as I was hoping, but definitely has potential…unlike “The Cape”, “The Event”, “No Ordinary Family”, etc which targeted the sci fi crowd and were all terrible from the start. Maybe JJ Abrams can save the day with “Alcatraz” next season.

  24. complete dud – expecting something better – more realistic and gritty. even jericho was better than this – and the walking dead have it dead on on how to do it.

  25. Super 8 was a GREAT movie, saw it in IMAX.. Fallin Skies was ok in my opinion. I would have liked the premier to have started off before the attack and actually showed more of how everthing went down instead of starting 6 months after the attack.. It was however good enough that I’m interested to see it next week. I have a feeling the show is going to get better week to week, especially after seeing the brief preview of next weeks action..

    • I agree. Great comment

    • Well with the last part
      “it was however good enough that I’m interested to see it next week. I have a feeling the show is going to get better week to week, especially after seeing the brief preview of next weeks action..”

  26. This television premiere was touted as having “limited commercials”. You have got to be kidding. There were so many commercials that I almost stopped watching. TNT, you guys are full of it.

    The only thing that kept me going was hoping, yes HOPING, that the story would get better. It didn’t. I can’t believe Spielberg endorsed such terrible sci-fi writing. I will give this show only one or two more episodes, because I believe in second chances, before I definitely tune it out. I have little reason to think, given the episodes have already been done, that things will improve.

    Instead of using the premiere to “Wow” us, a la “Battlestar Galactica”, I felt I was looking at a show written by a bunch of juveniles with little imagination as to story-line and action. For the moment, this goes into the dumpster of the rest of the multitude of horrid TV shows for couch-idiots.

  27. Slow start but I’ll give the rest a chance.

  28. The biggest issue was the audio quality – it was distracting. It wasn’t my lousy old TV; the sound effects were muted and the “background” music overplayed the voice track and the sound effects. That had to be a technical problem [which seems to happen occasionally to TNT & CW shows in particular]. It is amazing how muddy audio really dampens a shows effect.

    Beyond that I felt immediatly that the story was trying too hard. The aliens cross interstellar space to enslave children? The aliens disable the entire power-grid like flipping a switch, can build nearly indestructible autonomous bipedal attack droids… .but this column of 300 people can walk unassailled right out from under them? Don’t forget the mean-hearted general with contempt for civilians. Then add a bas-ass post-apocolyptic gang leader with insight into killing bugs that the military couldn’t figure out. Oh, and for spice insert a token Christian character [which, since it can be assumed the show has no writters who are practicing religuous anything, will inevitably be a character as thin as paper]. It would be a better story if it shed a few tropes and focussed on being a survival story.

    I enjoyed it. But it needs more self-confidence and to just not try as hard.

    • Adam, perhaps you should read about an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) There is technology that can smoke the grid and anything that has a motherboard. They were testing this stuff out in the 1960′s. If we can do it an alien invading race can as well, and probably do a better job.

  29. I didn’t think it was to bad BUT I think they don’t have faith in the show
    why would they show his missing son in the pilot wouldn’t you think they would wait a couple episodes in before showing him

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