Falling Skies: The Complete 1st Season
Cast: Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Colin Cunningham, Will Patton, Bruce Gray, Sarah Carter
Creator: Steven Spielberg
New York University '00
"I don't think you're dumb... I just think at times you're under-exposed to information." -Murphy Brown
Falling Skies: The Complete 1st Season
Review By: Dan Deevy
As a fan of science fiction this recent trend towards annihilation stories has me a little concerned. Historically, science fiction television shows and movies or even as far back as radio shows have been a direct reflection of the populations perception of what the future may hold.
In the 40’s and 50’s when people were afraid that the world would be destroyed by the atom bomb we found tales like War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide being told. Then later as the Vietnam War raged and the Civil Rights movement was at its peak and things seemed even grimmer than ever, a visionary named Gene Roddenberry stepped forward and created a tiny little show for NBC called Star Trek. This show that barely made it three seasons took the opposite stance and showed us that mankind was able to see past their petty differences and mature as a species with the assistance of helpful aliens. Finally we were seeing aliens whose motivation wasn’t destruction and domination but peaceful coexistence for the benefit of all.
Now it seems as though we’ve returned to the idea that we are doomed and that nothing, short of an evil invading army from space, will be able to force us all to come together as human beings instead of simple animals divided by the ideas of nations and religions. In the last year alone on the big screen we’ve seen Battleship and Prometheus both about evil alien monsters who just want to destroy us. And recently on television we’ve seen Terra Nova, V, and Outcasts all predicting a less than ideal future for our world.
Now joining the ranks of pessimistic sci-fi series, is the original Stephen Spielberg produced TNT series Falling Skies which puts us back in a ‘fighting-for-our-lives, everyone-must-become-a-soldier’ post-apocalyptic type of world. And in this world even though we are fighting against a greater force bent on our destruction we still manage to be divided amongst ourselves as well.
Sociological musings aside, Falling Skies is a great show with a fantastic cast. The stories they are telling are interesting, thought provoking and believe it or not, highly relatable to our everyday lives.
This ten episode inaugural season begins six months after an alien invasion has already been launched and has been largely successful. All major governments, militaries and cities have been destroyed throughout the world. No communication with the aliens has been possible so the human survivors who remain don’t even know what their species is called or why they have come.
As the audience we are not privy to any information that our characters aren’t; which in my opinion is a great way to tell this story. We discover things as they do. Often times it’s those questions that not only keep a viewer coming back for more, but it keeps us engaged in every moment of the show.
Tom’s middle son Ben (Connor Jessup) has been captured by the aliens which our group have designated Skitters and been fitted with a harness to control him. The aliens’ reasoning for capturing and harnessing children is just the first of many mysteries to be uncovered throughout the course of this show.
Heading up the ‘Second Mass’ (the name of this group’s division of the resistance) is a seasoned soldier by the name of Captain Weaver, expertly played by Will Patton. This man holds the show together in my opinion. He’s always the centered, logical, ‘big picture’ guy while everyone else tends to let their emotions run away with them. He’s also such a talented actor that he’s the man that makes me believe this world and this situation is actually real. I buy into it because of his performance.
Moon Bloodgood shows up as the groups’ chief doctor, Bruce Gray, another wonderful actor, is the groups teacher and tinkerer, Sarah Carter is one of many dedicated citizen soldiers and Colin Cunningham is the loose cannon a-hole of the group that everyone would love to kill or just leave behind despite his culinary talents.
There’s naturally a lot of combat because of the subject matter but it never overshadows the emotional human element of the story; which is probably why we care so much about the people and are so invested in every battle that happens.
The actions sequences are always incredibly well done. From the rapid fire machine gun battles to the hand to hand combat against the Skitters and other humans for that matter, are always super well-choreographed.
Now, people can be immediately turned off by the fact that the aliens we are fighting on this show are multi-legged bug like creatures but honestly, they shouldn’t be. Technology has advanced far enough now that when you watch this show, even though the special FX are done on a TV budget, you will believe that these creatures exist. I’m not going to say that they’re flawless or that you can’t tell it’s CGI, because at times you can, but what I will say is that it doesn’t affect how much you enjoy the show. The special FX are an important element to Falling Skies but
Another thought that came to mind as I was watching this show was, ‘if this actually happened and somehow I was one of the survivors, what would I have to offer the group? I mean, what would I be able to contribute?’ And sadly the answer I came up with was, ‘not a whole hell of a lot.’
I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent guy, but I don’t really know how to do anything. I don’t have any medical or engineering type of training. I know nothing about weapons, hand to hand combat, or in this situation even entomology. And since communication with the enemy is impossible, diplomacy is out the window; and that would have probably been the job I’d be most suited for.
So I’m just saying if you’re like me, then be prepared to feel slightly useless by the end of the season. Or, who knows, it might inspire you to pick up some form of trade on the side… you know… just in case.
The special features on this two disc set may seem to be somewhat limited but in fact there is a lot on here. There is a featurette of the cast panel at last year’s Comic Con which was great. They actually took the time to edit the interviews so the audience isn’t just sitting there watching a 40 minute panel; they edit in clips from the show, music etc. to keep things interesting.
There are two other Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes entitled The Unknown and The Second Mass both of which have great interviews with the cast and creators. Then there are also Featurettes about the creation of the Falling Skies Comic Book and a look at animating The Skitters which for any techies out there will find fascinating. And finally some audio commentary tracks you can choose to listen to as well.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic start to what should be along running series. TNT is touting it as its most successful original series so far and we know that Spielberg is completely behind it so hopefully it will run for a while.
It’s an action sci-fi based series that’s really all about relationships and what it means to be human. That’s what all good sci-fi is about and even though I would prefer to be watching a show that has a more optimistic view of the future, until the pendulum swings to the other side or until another visionary voice comes to the forefront, I’ll enjoy all that Falling Skies has to offer in the meantime. And you should too!