Photo Credit : TNT
Whether it was intended or not, there is something poetic and appropriate about “Falling Skies” premiering on Father’s Day. Among the alien invasion and the fight for survival is a smaller story about a father’s love for his three sons.
By : SHAWNA BENSON
Whether it was intended or not, there is something poetic and appropriate about “Falling Skies” premiering on Father’s Day. Among the alien invasion and the fight for survival is a smaller story about a father’s love for his three sons. I can think of no better way to honor fathers than to explore that family dynamic, which “Falling Skies” does with heart. Unlike most stories of fathers and their children however, this tale is set against quite a backdrop – it’s six months after a sudden and inexplicable alien invasion. The aliens, which are introduced through a series of children’s drawings as they recount their memories of the invasion, look like a cross between the aliens of “Independence Day” and “Signs.” The children recall the confusion, the shock and horror when the alien visitation turns hostile, and life on Earth is changed forever.
Photo Credit : TNT
“Falling Skies” comes from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, who knows a thing or two about staging alien invasions, and boasts an impressive list of writers involved in the conception of this series: Graham Yost (“Justified”), Robert Rodat (“Saving Private Ryan”), Mark Verheiden (“Battlestar Galactica”) and Greg Beeman (“Heroes”). It is certainly a departure from the successful formulas of most TNT shows, most of which are about battling or solving crimes. There are two elements which make this a logical home for the show – Noah Wyle (“E.R.”) who is known to TNT viewers from “The Librarian” films, and a strong focus on characters and their struggles, rather than the aliens.
As I mentioned before, the show explores the world of fatherhood, primarily through Wyle’s Tom Mason, a history professor who has suffered the death of his wife and one of his sons being captured by the aliens. He must keep his other two sons, Hal and Matt safe, while putting himself in danger as he takes up the position of second in command of the 2nd Mass, resistance fighters who must protect the civilian survivors in their charge. The show really highlights the fact that Mason is a history teacher, as he attempts to warn the recruited soldiers and the military leadership how to avoid the mistakes of their ancestors in previous resistance movements. The military of course isn’t always keen to take advice from an egghead civilian, and Tom continually butts heads with Weaver (Will Patton, “Armageddon”) who is in command of the 2nd Mass.
For those who dislike the gore elements of zombies, “Falling Skies” is a great alternative to “The Walking Dead.” Both shows explore similar themes, but the big difference is in how a post-apocalyptic scenario is portrayed. Here, the group of survivors is substantial, and therefore a challenge to keep safe, fed and sheltered. The organization needed to stitch together what remains of order and society is a challenge that has primarily ceased to exist in the universe of Kirkman’s zombies.
Wyle grounds the show and makes for a charismatic lead. The boyish charms which made him a star a decade ago are still there, but hidden far beneath the surface of the bearded, grizzled Mason. Moon Bloodgood (“Terminator Salvation”) plays his friend Dr. Anne Glass, though at times she seems emotionally distant from their world in contrast to Wyle, whose emotion seems to lie near the surface, which itself is a struggle as Mason must make decisions which weigh the lives and needs of the many, sometimes against his own family.
While it may not have the grittiness or gore of “The Walking Dead” or the special effects of a big budget film like “War of the Worlds” “Falling Skies” makes great use of its basic cable home to tell stories about Mason and his family, stories with heart. I plan to stick with this series to see how it progresses. Based on the pilot, I’d say TNT has an unconventional (for them) yet impressive addition to their programming.
“Falling Skies” premieres on TNT with a two hour premiere on Sunday June 19th at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific and will air regularly on Sundays at 10 PM Eastern/Pacific.