‘Falling Skies’ – ‘Prisoner of War’: The wrong kid tried

A few quick thoughts on tonight’s “Falling Skies” coming up just as soon as I read the stack of spy novels on my nightstand…

As I said last week, while I enjoy “Falling Skies,” I’m not sure there’s enough meat here to fuel weekly reviews. That said, there were some discussion-worthy things in “Prisoner of War,” and I’m also curious to see ongoing reaction to the show, given how split the comments were between my post last week (mostly positive comments) versus Fienberg’s review of the show (predominantly negative comments).

Mark Verheiden was brought in as showrunner after the “Falling Skies” pilot was produced, and his influence is pretty clear in “Prisoner of War,” which has plenty of echoes of “Battlestar Galactica.” Obviously there’s the wall of photos of missing and/or dead children(*), but there are also the glimpses we get of the civilian population trying to make the best of their situation, here setting up daycare, a rudimentary school system, cooking(**), etc. On “BSG,” the civilian part of the fleet was often an abstract, because we were spending all of our time on Galactica while most of the civilians were on other ships we never went to. Here, they’re right down the hall from where Weaver and Tom are plotting strategy, so in a way, this show has a leg up on portraying that aspect.

(*) I’ve always been a Noah Wyle fan – playing John Carter was not nearly as easy as he made it look, as evidenced by the number of shows since then that have tried to feature callow young point-of-view characters who have been vastly less interesting – but it’s been a while since I’ve watched him regularly in anything. So it’s nice to get moments like Tom’s reaction to the “Save Our Babies” sign as a reminder of what he can do without saying a word. Nice.  

(**) On the other hand, any scenario whatsoever that involves giving Pope access to knives, or even forks, spoons and ladles, is incredibly stupid, even if he’s under guard 24/7.

This episode also introduces Steven Weber as smug, sarcastic but talented Dr. Michael Harris. It’s he kind of role Weber’s been typecast in lately, but only because he’s very good at it – good enough that I mostly was able to overlook the coincidence that Harris happened to know Tom’s wife and was with her when she died. Given that this group still hasn’t traveled very far from Boston, it’s not completely improbable that these two would cross paths again, but it still seemed a little too dramatically neat.

Plus, Noah Wyle takes out a skitter singlehanded! Tom dragging the creature through the school was a nice moment (if, like most of the series, borrowed from another alien invasion story, in this case Will Smith in the desert in “Independence Day”), and I remain impressed by the effects work on the creature itself.

What did everybody else think? Two weeks and three hours into “Falling Skies,” how are we feeling about it?