‘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.

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.

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

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  1. Bland, predictable and boring. Any alien species capable of interstellar space travel would surely have vastly superior military technology than is exhibited in Falling Skies. It is simply not credible that a group of some 300 humans would not be readily spotted and then obliterated. The mechs are little more than an inane and far less credible looking ripoff of the revised warrior Cylons of the revised Battlestar Galactica series. One repeatedly wonders how the resistance fighters could be so clueless of the need to utilize high explosives to destroy the aliens ground warfare machines. Of course it is nonsensical that such a technologically advanced society would construct such relatively flimsy battle droids in the first place. And armed with machine guns? Did the producers ever watch Predator for clues as to want truly advanced Alien weaponry might look like? Obviously not.

    The characters are totally hackneyed and the acting performances at best bland and uninteresting. The opening narrative scene, the one of the child’s story complete with inane crayon drawings, was a ludicrous way for the producers to evade the cost of the CGI effects necessary to show the original alien onslaught.

    Fundamentally a trite and uninteresting misfire.

    • I agree with you for the most part but there’s no way to be certain that aliens who are capable for interstellar travel also have great weapons. Just because they figured out space doesn’t mean they figured out guns.

    • Hey man your over analyzing this…
      But obviously the creatures must have focused mire on transportation then weaponry and in case you didn’t notice the humans have an extrodinarly difficult time at destroying both mechs and the skitters. I do not know if what the mechs are using are machine guns it seems more advanced and powerful. I suggest maybe it’s something like a machine gun but more advanced in many ways

      • *more

  2. I agree with most on here, FS was very bad scifi at the most and end of the world storyline at the least. The dialogue and story were terrible.

    Ok Basic problems with the series.

    1.No one in the resistance knows how to shoot their weapons properly, even those who are suppose to be ex-military.
    2. Guns have recoil, you don’t fire a full auto AK one handed and not have it buck out of your hand or kick back in the opposite direction.
    3. Bullets cause damage, no matter if you come from outer space, a bullet going through something causes just as much damage from 5 feet as it does from 100. Aliens that are not armored are not impervious to bullets simply because they are 30 feet away.
    4. Large masses of people walking in broad daylight in full view of cities and tall alien structures can be seen, even more so from the air. That also goes for camping out in open fields, which are plainly visible to any aircraft that flies over.
    5. I cant tell you how many times I watched them walk down the MIDDLE of the street when going into a town or neighborhood.
    6. Explosions have a shock wave, most of the time the shockwave does more damage than the actual explosion itself. Setting off two sticks of C4 would kill anyone within 100 yards not under cover, especially in a closed building.

    Basically this series looks like someone who has no knowledge how guns or the military work wrote the script.

    I think what bothered me the most was when the Resistance leader complaining about anyone not toting a gun as worthless and a drain on resources. Soldiers fight for people not just the country, anyone who looks on humans in the middle of an alien invasion as worthless cannot be a leader.

  3. I found it to be just okay, nothing more. It’s not the fault of the show, it’s just that more or less we’ve seen it all before. I loved “Battle: Los Angeles,” and popped it in the DVD player again just a few hours before the “Falling Skies” premiere, and there’s just no comparison as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure how this series will continue for a prolonged time without even the most diehard sci-fi fans holding interest. There probably is a reason for the children being harnessed, etc, which could provide a surprise down the road, but other than that what else could be happening besides periodic human vs. alien encounters and the survivors searching for food? Maybe I’m dead wrong but after this initial episode I can’t see the series lasting more than a season, two at most.

  4. Another issue. Why is Boston not a massive crater- if the Aliens supposedly nuked it”? Secondly why are there so many still intact buildings yet so many overturned cars in the streets? One would think an all out alien attack wiping out 80% of humanity would would at least cause a tad more destruction.

    Next why do the mechs need to so colorfully and obviously light up the target they are are firing at, thereby warning their adversary and in turn revealing their position? One would think they simply lock on a person’s body heat (heck the latest generation of our own brilliant antipersonnel weapons can already do so) to terminate a given target. And machine guns as primary weapons- uggh!!! No technological creativity plus mediocre writing and special effects plus bland acting will likely doom this show beyond a one year run.

  5. 90% of the world dies out, leaving only the classically beautiful 10%!

    • Nobody would watch a show that is full of uglies. sorry. thats just dumb.

  6. I am easily entertained by such a mini series. At some point I heard limited commercial. I misunderstood. Limited program, Mega commercials. Cancel recording and move on.

  7. For survivors living in the shadows of a conquered world they had surprisingly clean faces and well trimmed beards. It was much too sunny for end-of-the-world noir.

  8. Once again I think most of us have a “seen it before ” attitude. It is getting increasingly difficult to walk the fine line between believable gritty realism and family entertainment. And I agree Spielberg has lost his sense of wonder. His name no longer insures having a great time nor even an OK one.

  9. Great, enjoyed can’t wait for the next one

  10. Boring. Boring. Boring. Made for 12-15 year old males. As a devoted SciFi fan, I couldn’t get past the first hour. Hope it will get better, but I doubt it.

  11. I thought the pilot was pretty boring. Lots of violence and nothing really interesting like a moral dilemma or a suspensful mystery or any kind of character that had any depth or intrigue.
    It kind of reminded me of Lost in that the cast is made up of multiracial attractive people, there’s a doctor, a power struggle for leadership, interpersonal conflict and trust issues, even a kid with a dog (and nearly the same dog as in Lost). And they are all thrown together and forced to rely on eachother for survival as a group.
    The premise is kind of lame. The harnesses seem silly…why only kids?
    It’s also pretty clear that the six legged aliens are probably like slaves to the two legged aliens who built the robots. Maybe they’ll get into moral issues/racism/animal rights??? It might actually get interesting there.
    Anyone else unable to clearly hear that they were saying “skitters”? I spent the whole two hours trying to figure out if they were saying “skidders” or “skinners” and then trying to figure out why they were called that. Oy.
    I’ll watch next week and give it a second chance but I’m not holding out much hope. The only real question I had after the show ended was what happened to the dog? I didn’t care at all about any of the human characters. I’m quitting the show if they don’t make the dog a main character.

    • Well that’s a stupid reason to quit watching an overall good show.

      • Read my WHOLE post.
        It’s NOT an overall good show. The dog thing was the last straw.

  12. Falling Skies is nothing more than The Walking Dead with aliens. It was so extremely boring and the characters were just completely lost on me. I will watch one more episode before making my final judgement, since pilots are known for being a bit rough around the edges. One thing that does go for this series is that Maggie chick. Hell yeah!

  13. oh my God!!! iv never been disapointed with Spielberg like i am today!!!!!!! u sure its the same jurassic park Spielberg ??? Oh my God!!!! this series is pathetic!!! didnt you learn anything from “skyline”? which was the biggest disapointment in 2010?…..i just couldnt sit there for 5 more minutes watching that…the actors are lame …the animation is soooo bad! its like they were animated by a learner straight from some crappy animation school! and the storyline…its jericho all over again!!!!! fyting for food and weapons? LAME!!! The EV3NT beats you guyz 10 nill!!!

    • yep and they cancelled the event but this one will probably get 10 seasons of crap.

    • Hold up you two, this I’d not a multi-million dollar movie. the effects can’t be top of the line it’s too expensive for just a tv show. And the actors are not that bad. Have you ever seen flesh eaters?!?
      Oh and you spelled “fighting” wrong.

  14. It was rather slow, too much talk, real weak characters, and kind of unrealistic. You are in full view of mother ship, and hundreds of people in broad daylight are traveling down a road that can clearly be seen by anyone in the mother ship. If you can see them…they can see you. Rather ridiculous. Only time will tell. Perhaps it will get better as it plays out or NOT. We will see.

  15. After the first hour, I had read on Entertainment Weekly that the 2nd hour gets better. I normally trust this magazine, except in this case the 2nd hour actually got worse! An impossible feat after the suffering through the worst most boring hour of any Sci Fi show in memory. The characters are laughable as is the script! Spielberg? Really?

  16. I’ll try to watch one more hour,but if it doesn’t improve greatly I won’t be watching anymore. I thought the first two hours were boring and creeped on by at a slow pace.

  17. I´ve expected a lot more from this show. The characters were all the time explaining the obvious. There´s no surprises in the plot, except from being surprisingly boring.

  18. Lame,Borin, to many people to tell a story that sucks

  19. After watching, i’m wondering when Season 1 came out because this program is definitely Season 2. It’s disjointed, characters pop up out of nowhere. Noah Wylie should stick to something he’s good at because this is definitely not it

  20. The best thing about this show is looking at Noah Wylie. It just seems predictable and the aliens looked like a cross between Predator, Aliens, War of the Worlds, etc. I wanted to gag when the noah wylie’s son got a bday present and started riding around his scooter,then cue the sappy music and all the people just start smiling at him and stop what they’re doing. Please!Give me a break. I won’t be watching anymore of this series.

  21. Alicia…Especially annoying is the sappy piano music! This has to be the dumbest Sci Fi I series I’ve ever seen, and I sometimes I like bad Sci Fi!
    It seems the better series, like Sarah Chronicle, V and The Event tend to get cancelled while this may probably survive!

  22. Is this going to get any better? I won’t be watching.

  23. I actually really enjoyed the show. It’s suppose to leave lots of questions in order to keep you watching. The series picks up after an alien invasion where cities, millataries, and governments have been destroyed. Most humans are dead and many children are enslaved by the aliens. Since it picks up after all this characters may seem like they just pop up when really they’ve been there all along, because of this I imagine the introductions of the characters maybe a little sketchy at first but they grow on you in the end. The action is intense and fun to watch overall I believe this is a great show and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s episode.

  24. Some of you are way to critical. It’s a TV series. At least it’s not another reality blah,blah,blah. We liked it a lot. I think the searching for food and weapons would be a common thread in any series like this. We plan to watch. I do agree the aliens are too much like War of the Worlds…or maybe that’s just how they will look when they eventually come for us???? Hope not, they creep me out.

  25. LOL So many wannabe critics. I found it ok. Sure could have done some things differently and a little sappy at points but I’ll definitely stay to watch. Hell, it’s one of the few truly scifi shows on tv ATM and I need a scifi fix (Syfy sure doesn’t have any anymore.) As someone else said, at least its not another reality show or crime drama (rehashing those plots to death too).

  26. Boy does this suck so far !

  27. Disappointing start especially with Spielberg’s name attached. But what’s driving me crazy more then anythings are the frequent commercial interruptions. They even announced the pilot episode as limited commercial interruptions. I never saw so many commercials..

    The other big disappointment is how so many scenes are shot dark. I’m watching on a 70″ screen and in many scenes I can barley make out what’s going on. Don’t have a HD stream, but I still think we should be able to see the scenes better.

    I will give it another episode.

  28. i thought it was pretty good..and enjoyed watching…thanks for the entertainment

  29. First the problems

    The civ vs military thing is laughable. Instead of teaching your kids biology teach them how to make pipe bombs. You’d probably kill more meks that way. Give the kids suicide vests while your at it, deter any slave taking.

    When there is no country or society left you are all fighters as soon as you can aim a bow or pistol. Get rid of the idiotic bs that is civ vs military.

    Walking about in broad daylight when u do not control the skies or the countryside for that matter. They should be in the sewers.

    Emp does not destroy all electronics that are not turned on. Period. Completely stupid plot point misuse here as any vehicle that was sitting in a garage can still be used after an emp.

    Noah Wylie can’t pull this off. Lame actor. Always will be.

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