Review: Falling Skies is Aliens and Drama, But Mostly Drama

TNT sent us the two-hour season premiere and the second episode of their new, Dreamworks-produced sci-fi drama of military strategy has placed him second in command of a group of resistance fighters.  Drew Roy (Secretariat) plays Wyle’s oldest son, and Moon Bloodgood (pictured at right) plays pediatrician Anne Glass.  Will Patton steals several scenes as the intense commanding officer Weaver.  Underrated dude. Colin Cunningham works well as comic relief playing the charismatic leader of a gang of marauders profiteering wherever they can and gleefully hunting aliens.

Instead of building up to a huge battle like most alien invasion shows, Falling Skies starts six months after aliens have invaded and humans have had their asses handed to them.  They don’t know what the aliens’ motives are and they’re outmatched by these invaders.  The aliens attacked army bases and ships first, killing as many military personnel as they could.  Then the aliens bombed major cities, afterwards killing adults and capturing children for slave labor, controlling their bodies by melding their spines with organic/metal harnesses reminiscent of a William S. Burroughs story.  The pilot quickly establishes that Wyle’s wife has been killed and the middle child among his three sons has been kidnapped, possibly alive with one of those harnesses controlling him.  It’s clear the humans are losing big time, and now they’re falling back from the colonial-looking set meant to represent Boston.  Oooo, colonialism reference.  Except Americans are the insurgents.  We see what you did there.

The special effects were well done (episodes were rumored to cost around $4 million apiece) and the pacing of scenes was good.  One child actor (I’ll refrain from naming names since this is just a kid) was really terrible; if you’re talking about your family members dying, maybe imbue some sort of emotion into the scene.  An inflection, a sad look, a pause, something.  Additionally, some of the dialogue was heavy-handed and needed work; case in point, in one scene some survivors were discussing how to attack an alien base, but then interrupted Noah Wyle’s character with sarcastic comments when he started talking about real examples of an outmatched force winning battles in history.  Right.  Because these people who were so interested in military strategy ten seconds ago would turn into complete jerks when an actual military history expert says something.  Sure, that happens.  I know they want us to get on Wyle’s side right from the start, but it’s not necessary to show people figuratively kicking sand in his face to get us there.  He’s a widower with two kids fighting an alien invasion and chatting up Moon Bloodgood.  We’re already on his side.

The final verdict: if you like a well-paced family drama set in an bleak, post-war America, where people are foraging for basics while forging new relationships and trying to mend traumatically interrupted ones, and there’s just a smattering of aliens and only a little gore, you’ll dig this show.  If, on the other hand, you were hoping to watch Moon Bloodgood shotgun blast H. R. Gigeresque aliens in the face for two hours while the theme to Team America plays, this isn’t the show for you.  Or for me, to be honest.

The two-hour premiere on TNT is this Sunday, June 19th, at 9 p.m. EST/PST, 8 p.m. Central.  Don’t know about Mountain Time.  Do they have TV?