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Falling-skies

Falling Skies Series Premiere Review: History Repeats Itself...

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There's nothing especially unique about the premise of Falling Skies. Throughout the two-hour premiere, various scenes reminded me of War of the Worlds, Independence Day and even Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

So, what makes this Steven Spielberg-produced drama stand out? Those were all movies. This is a TV show.

Falling Skies Premiere Scene

Indeed, the two-hour episode (which I'd argue was one hour too long, as the second half strayed too far from the main, engrossing alien takeover; and 120 minutes of time is simply a lot to ask from viewers unfamiliar with a show) played out like a film, replete with impressive effects, production values and multi-dimensional characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's why:

Noah Wyle. Who didn't love him as John Carter on ER? It's been years since Wyle has been a regular on the small screen, and he's the perfect fit here as Tom Mason, a father of three, desperately seeking that third.

It's a subtle, reserved performance, with Wyle saving outpouring of emotion for scenes that truly call for it. Tom comes across as a pragmatic optimist, someone who can honestly refer to civilians as a "hindrance," while saying they also inspire him to fight. His history references also make for a nice touch.

The dueling human camps. Falling Skies doesn't just pit man versus alien. Hints of tension between the controlling army and a civilian camp lead by Captain Weaver (Will Patton, appropriately gruff) make for an interesting dichotomy between the people themselves.

Multiple types of aliens. Also a fascinating twist. Why are there two kinds of visitors? Did the Skitters make the Mechs? What does this say about their intentions, their planet of origin? A lot of material to mine here.

Those darn harnesses. This is where Falling Skies very much separates itself from a mere story of alien invasion. Why are kids fitted with foreign-looking attachments? Will they eventually, tragically turn into Skitters as a result?

The two hours felt a bit long, but such an extended premiere did allow for a nice balance between action and human emotion. I feel like I know these characters already, I'm invested in the search for Ben and I'm intrigued by the insightful renegade John Pope (great scenes between his portrayer, Colin Cunningham, and Wyle's Tom in hour two).

I've already seen the third episode and it's even better than the pilot. With the feel of a summer blockbuster and an emotional center anchored by the steady presence of Wyle - along with the potential to fill in blanks such as how the resistance movement was formed and how the characters got to where they are - Falling Skies is at the top of my summer programming list.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
  • 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (139 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Watched the second episode on 6/26 hoping for something to keep me as a viewer, but it was as boring as the first 2 hrs. The writing is really, really bad, although I must say finding out the gang leader is in fact a chef, and a damn good one who just needs more supplies.....olive oil, made me burst out in laughter. And yes, the amount of commercials is unbelievable and annoying. Good shows,acutal dramas with intelligent scripts are not even given the courtesy of 13 episodes, regardless of what the audience wants. If this show was guaranteed a second season along with all the commercials, that pretty much says it all. Apparently the only alternative is a reality show.

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Maybe I'm easier to please, but I'm gonna give this one some time. I just saw the 2nd episode. Characters are starting to come in focus and there is a LOT to explore with the aliens. There is a serious lack of decent Sci-Fi on tv and I still feel this has a lotta potential.

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Very disappointed: the film was not set up right from the beginning; disjointed cuts; stilted acting. In short, Falling Skies is a spectacular failure.

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I was disappointed. The show really dragged and I think a lot of it had to do with it not being set up right from the beginning. It's hard to identify with characters you know nothing about. I thought the acting was a bit stilted and the writing as well. Compared to the AMC shows: Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, the network shows The Event and Jerico, this was a dud. The previous series all had better writing, casting and acting. If Stephen Speilberg wasn't the producer, it wouldn't have gotten the attention, nor would it have been guaranteed two seasons even before the first showing. Well, if the writing doesn't get better, it may be "bye bye" before long.

Piecar

By the way, Russell, I'm with you most of the way on your assessment. But that 'boring old fart' pretending to be an officer is Dale Dye. A decorated war veteran who's pounded a lot of ground. He's the go-to guy for training actors how to at least LOOK like they know what they're doing and has been doing it since Platoon. He's been the military advisor on most of the military movie of the last 25 years. Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific. All of those are his. That he was in this show meant to me that at least some of the characters got training on how to handle weapons and tactics. At least they got that part right.

Piecar

I agree with many here. It was a rehash of stuff we've seen before. This is "Jeremiah 2.0" All of the characters are hackneyed and come from the Post Apocalyptic Playbook. The 'harness' thing IS interesting, and the biped Mechs with the Sextoped aliens is intriguing, but the acting is low low low level. The actors themselves seem to realize the level of the material and aren't giving their all.
Moon Bloodgood has never been a good actress. She's B-level at best, and the supermodel looks are starting to turn into "cute next door neighbour" looks, which will make her less exciting. The only guy who seemed to be biting into the material is Cunningham, who must be excited to get a juicy role, as he's Canadian.
That they chose to do one episode of set up of the characters and the back story, and one ep of "The team gets kidnapped" rather than spend both hours setting up the main story bodes ill as well. Either they aren't interested in the main story, or they didn't flesh it out enough at that point.
Visually, I find nothing spectacular about the show, either. They're not trying for anything exciting on any level here. I'm dubious, to say the least.

Fortyseven

Unoriginal in a bad way apart from the harnesses and atypical alien mechs. Decent acting from Cunningham and Carter. Pope was hilarious.

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not as good as the walking dead, Noah might save the show.

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@Matt Richenthal
Stargate Universe kept me caring for the characters the whole 2 seasons! Thats alot better than only 61 seconds... I had much higher expectations from Falling Skies, I just hope it gets more into the mythology. The characters are very uninteresting and every time I saw that criminals leader I had to keep telling me it was not Bono! Especially the talking about The Revolution and The Resistance (Almost a 1:1 copy of the live performance speech of Sunday Bloody Sunday) So more mythology and more science about the aliens and please let us not wait till the end before we'll get to see the invasion! I was sooo waiting for that!

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I was very disappointed. I kept waiting for the show to, at some point say, "1 day earlier" or something like that and show us the character's lives just before the aliens landed and how it all transpired. Instead, as I was first watching, I kept thinking - did I somehow miss the first hour or two? They just throw you into the battle between the aliens and humans - kind of like reading a book but skipping the first 3 chapters. Poorly written and the acting is so-so. Very surprised that someone as brilliant as Steven Spielberg is behind this. I doubt it will last.