Falling Skies

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Falling Skies Season Finale Review: A Lot of Dialogue, Drama

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Is TNT having budgetary problems? Or are the writers of Falling Skies so intent on proving this is a character-driven drama that they purposely leave out key sequences?

The answer must be yes to one of these questions, as this show has suffered from a focus on exposition over action throughout the summer. Never was this more evident than on the two-hour season finale. Consider what vital scenes were NOT show on "Mutiny" and "Eight Hours:"

Porter's death. Any of the attack on his camp. Tom stealing the charges off Pope's bombs. Rick's talk with the harnessed young girl in the forest. The attack on Weaver and the 2nd Mass in Boston.

Got One!

Instead, viewers were treated to one long speech after another, with characters simply telling us about what happened. And we're talking about major events here! Would it have been so difficult to kick off the opening hour with Dai speeding away from Porter's camp? With a shot of that integral character being killed?

It was baffling, not to mention boring, for this huge piece of information to be relayed via a wounded Dai in a hospital bed. The same thing could be said for any of the developments listed above. A well-written series shows, it doesn't tell.

I understand that Falling Skies prides itself on its characters and their interactions, but there's a big difference between dialogue that lets us into the lives and minds of these individuals - and exchanges that simply rundown key storylines in order to move the plot along.

The first half of the episode, overall, felt like forced filler. Tom and Weaver had just bonded, literally hours earlier, in the latter's old apartment. Suddenly, they were at such odds that they went all Crimson Tide on us? And the key player in their feud was some guy named Danner, a never-before-seen Lieutenant? Who was then killed an hour later?

Eventually, we were back to where we started: the attack on the aliens was imminent and the 2nd Mass was on board. It felt mostly like a waste just to get us to the crux of the finale.

Fortunately, a couple developments stood out and leave me excited for what's to come:

  1. Ben as a soon-to-be Skitter, using his knowledge of the enemy to help the resistance. It was growing tiresome for the group to continually ignore Ben and Rick, who were both clearly affected by their abduction/harness. But now the secret is out in the open. What other ways will Ben's state contribute to the survivors' cause? How else will he change? When will he turn from an asset into an enemy? All intriguing questions for next summer.
  2. Tom entering that spaceship. I certainly can't find fault with the cliffhanger. Kudos to the show for realizing it has to mix things up next season. I have no clue what will come out of Tom's chat with that long-necked alien, but I assume it will be a major game-changer. Falling Skies could only go on for so long with survivors hiding out in a camp and wondering about an attack.

It may not seem that way from most of this review, but I'm on board for season two. There's a lot to like about Falling Skies - Noah Wyle, the unknown motives of the aliens, the harnessed kids, everything Pope says - but there are also many changes I'd like to see. If the series ups the action and dials down the explanatory discourse, I'll be happier than a bazooka-firing Tom Mason.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (94 Votes)

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

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I actually liked "Mutiny" better than the final episode, which was a disappointment. The final scene with Weaver being confronted by Tom and the others was well done, and suspenseful. People forget this show is more about characters than combat with aliens. It's a family show. It's got Spielberg pixie dust all over it. However, the finale let me down. Tom going into the alien ship is a ridiculous concept. People are right complaining there are not enough action scenes, but that is probably a budgetary thing. The aliens themselves, with their long spindly limbs look ridiculous as well. There are huge plot holes, and bad science. Also, the eerie siren moan the mechs eminate whenever they stomp around People complain about the acting, but generally speaking I disagree. The character Jimmy is played by an excellent young actor. Pope is good as well, and has the best lines in the show... he kind of reminds me of how a reckless Dennis Miller would dialogue in a dystopian world. The interaction between Pope and the youngest Mason kid (I can't remember his name) is touching... seeing a vulnerable side in Pope, and complete innocent childlike bravery from the kid... Noah Wyle does a great job with his role, as well as Will Patton... I wish they would do something useful with Lourdes character... they need an episode that centers around her, and without cheesy one-liners that are faith based. Her best scene was in the episode "Grace" when she prayed and even a soon to be broken Weaver participated. The writers are forced to cram to much character and plot development into 10 episodes... so something has to give. It could be a great show, and I will continue to view when Season 2 arrives. It's a TV show, not a historical drama.

Piecar

Sure, Diehl...Draft 1 is on white paper, Draft 2 is on, say blue paper, Draft 3 is on yellow, 4 is on green, etc. It's not uncommon for people on the floor to say "Dump that script, Yellows just came out an hour ago, I think they're doing another pass and we'll have greens by this afternoon. The colour key is posted so everybody knows if they see a more advanced colour go by in someone's hand there's another rewrite. Often, they don't redo the whole script, just a scene, or even a page, so people's scripts can be multicoloured as they swap pages in and out...

Realdiehl

@ Piecar:
Can you explain what you mean by "Color Keys". I apologize for getting off-topic here. Just trying to satisfy my own curiosity and gain some insight into the creative processes involved in making a show.

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The show really needs to enlist some top-notch writers who are also committed to enlisting expert consultants - various scientists, etc. I am not an expert writer but I do know that it is quite a writing challenge to weave in backstory to the level necessary for this story. It seems they need to find a better balance between going back and moving forward as the story really lacks movement as well as depth. Further, weaving in the backstory seemed take on a life of its own in the sense that this approach is overused in a way that leaves out essential more recent/current events. I think the story has much potential but needs a really great screen writer who can handle the challenges of starting "in the aftermath". The story also lacks scientific expertise. Fortunately, both of these are potentially fixable. I hope the show takes steps to address these and some of the other issues noted in the comments as I really love the ideas and, unlike some reviewers, I do like the characters who, with a better script, could attain much greater depth indvidually and greater dynamic movement among each other.

Piecar

Elle....This site is about reviewing, positive or negative. If there's a place to put your two cents in, this is it. So, you enjoyed the show, did you? What was it that grabbed you? Sway some thinking here. Tell us what we're missing. As for slagging the writers...Well, after almost twenty years working in tv, I know that it ain't the writers that are at fault here. Writers often turn in terrific scripts, which are then picked apart by committee. There is a colour key to drafts of scripts which numbers up to a dozen iterations, and often goes double versions of colours. The decisions made with the abysmal finale were NOT decisions made the be writers. I gotta bet they wrote scenes were the 2nd Mass went to town on the aliens. It had to have been a budgetary decision while they paid for the absolutely TERRIBLE CGI...Or they blew their budget early in the season. THEY were the one who told us there was a big battle coming, and that many units were involved. They didn't have to do that. They lied in their promise the same way that HEROES lied in it's promise in the first season...or that LOST lied in it's final seasons. I'm unsure of the audience they're shooting for with this. There's none of the soapy "I slept with her, but she slept with him and we slept with them and Now I feel angsty" garbage that people seem to love these days(though they took a shot at it with the predictable kiss). They don't have any action in the show. They don't have fancy weapons, and the only one seeming to have any fun is my old drinking buddy Colin, so it's not good for the Sci Fi(not SyFy) fans. Again...I think the concept and ideas on the show are really interesting. There's lots to like...But their model sucks if they can't afford to sell it. I think, if they want to improve the show, they have to abandon the military hierarchy aspect and put them all alone. That way it's all small battles, and small victories. They CAN make this show work properly, but random RPG shots that destroy an impenetrable target, or magic kit radios and Super Flagpoles are not the way.

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Why so long between seasons you will lose viewers with that long wait and why so short a season needs to be longer seasons I'm still up in the air with the show and for season 2 not until summer 2012 might just end it for me

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@ cyberdactyl: The writers may not have a clue about basic physics, but by the look of your post you might not have a clue about basic English usage. So provided that you know Physics (which was not necessarily evident in your post), then that puts you even with the writers because they know writing and not physics and you are the opposite. The difference is that you care enough to come on here and rip them, whereas they don't give a crap about you. On a more serious note, the episode was an epic letdown. I am ok with the cliffhanger for season 2, my biggest beef is the off-camera stuff that the author talks about. I can suffer through the cliched characters and mediocre dialogue as long as the interesting secrets and plot wrinkles keep coming. However, when pivotal events on the show happen outside of our view, that is inexcusable. I am not a meat head action guy who needs to see shooting in his movies. On the contrary I prefer cerebral stuff. However on a show about a guerrilla war with the aliens, I frankly need to see a firearm shooting once in a while, and this show seems unwilling to give it to me.

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If you don't like the show then why are you reading the reviews about it?? Seriously do you have nothing better to do? You might thinks its shit but obviously the the millions of people who watch it every week enjoy it so why don't you just keep your opinions to yourself and stop hating.

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to all who think this show is cheesy, agreed but most fantasy is, this is meant as entertainment not a documentary! entertainment is not necessarially intellectually driven! enjoy it for what it is, fantasy.

Realdiehl

Ouch! I hope the writers have excellent benefits. They're being torn to shreds here; maybe a bit unfairly. I don't know how a series is written or produced. Maybe the writers were given an outline by the producers of the series and told to make it all fit within 10 episodes. Maybe that's why so much action was left out. It could be that it was just impossible to fit it all in. Some things appear to defy logic: The aliens tell Tom they didn't expect this much resistance. What? Did they think humans would just give up and allow their children to be stolen from them? Sounds ridiculous at first.
Possible explanation: The Aliens' civilization could have some kind of social hive mentality. It could be from their point of view that once you take out the soldiers and leaders, the remaining population is genetically predisposed to just fall in line and obey the new overlords. Also, look back to the Revolutionary War that Tom refers to all the time. Armies at the time adhered to a hive sort of mentality. If your side lost a battle (most of which at the time were of the planned set-piece variety) you were supposed to just surrender and hand over your weapons. Instead the Continental Army tried to avoid set-piece battles. A tactic that ensured a long, expensive, drawn out war that ultimately led to victory. Look to Vietnam for a more recent example. Guerilla warfare wasn't exactly a novel concept at the time and yet it still worked. The British Army never expected a war like the one it fought in 1776. It was inconceivable. Likewise, the United States never expected to be on the losing side of a conflict in which enemy casualty rates were 15 to 1 in its favor. Yet in each case, the leadership in both armies blindly refused to change tactics even after SEVERAL YEARS had passed. The aliens are actually way ahead of the curve. It has only taken them 6 months to see that things are not as they expected. What happened with the other three teams that were sent out for each leg of the structure looming over the City? At 9:00 they were all supposed to strike. There was no mention of their fate. I wish we would have been clued in on what time it was when the show ended. Was it after 9:00, in which case the other teams failed? I'm looking forward to next season. The first wasn't without its flaws but, there are a lot of things to look forward to. Mostly getting answers to a lot of questions left unanswered. Overall, imo, the cast performed well. I was really impressed with the young actor who plays Jimmy. He didn't have a ton of scenes but, he sold me on the ones wherein he was featured. His fear was palpable in the episode where he was attacked on the bus and his subsequent uncertainty in the season finale felt genuine.

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