Summer is the time in channel line ups waiting to be filled by prospective fall heavy hitters. The mid-season docket has been intensifying in recent years with companies understanding that if they can secure viewership of a show during the gap months of reruns, than they have a chance at a stable base for later. While many are starting the add campaigns for their after Labor Day offerings, TNT is jumping in to the fray with a guts-and-glory fight for survival called Falling Skies.
The production of the show brings to mind all the wonder I experienced when watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind or ET. Exposure to alien civilization proves that long held beliefs of other life forms drifting the stars are true. Through the lens of the camera we can reach out with the characters to touch the beyond. If we go the route of Independence Day or War of the Worlds, however, a little touch can rip you to shreds. Bombed out cars, abandoned streets, six legged aliens and mechs abound in post-apocolyptic Massachusets as the story revolves around a group known as the 2nd Mass. One of the figures in the resistance and the stories main focus is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a resistance leader who lost his wife during the attacks that led to the downfall of civilization as it was known. He is looking for one of his middle son Ben (Connor Jessup) who is believed to have been taken like several other children and “harnessed” in order to do the bidding of the invaders. Fighting at his side is his eldest son Hal (Drew Roy) while younger son Matt (Maxim Knight) is left to wait with others. Dr. Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) pieces everyone together while Captain Weaver (Will Patton) attempts to keep everyone alive with his military experience.
The two hour premiere had a stronger second hour. The first, while wasting no time getting to the meat and potatoes of the show was a little slow for the tastes. Screenplay writer Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) did a good job bringing out the shows theme of keeping individual humanity against the odds but some moments of intensity came flat. Moments to further illustrate emotional punch were lost at times in some of the camera work. Despite this, TNT has a gem if they can mine the roughness out of this potential diamond for the dazzle. In this world of fallen governments, civil disobedience, and moral laxity he makes good use of room for diverse agendas. Noah Wyle’s work for TNT makes him a confident cast choice in the lead role. We are only beginning to see his struggles as both a leader and a father with the choices he has to make come to the fore. Second hour’s arrival of Collin Cunningham as outlaw gang leader John Pope gives the 2nd Mass some external friction to work against in later episodes. Coming up behind him in interest is Sarah Sanguin Carter in the role of Margaret, a gang member who isn’t as Pope sided as one would think. Cunningham for lack of a better phrase stole the show though. John Pope has the swagger of an Old West man with the ammunition of a modern day king pen to back him up.
Rodat has his work cut out for him as a writer. The special effects in this show are on bar none, but the script is what has been the deaths of so many sci-fi shows the last few seasons. Not to mention that as a genre, sci-fi is risky. What sets Falling Skies apart is that the battle has already been fought at the get-go, and we lost. Humanity has to learn to gather itself back up in the land of the free to get what it needs and kick some alien ass. There is also that gritty aspect of fighting one another in a dog-eat-dog style that will keep me watching for wanting more.
Final Grade: The Geeky Chic gives Falling Skies premiere a grade of A+ on production and B- for the script, for a total of B+ overall.