TNT’s alien invasion show “Falling Skies” is like Independence Day on the ground. Only it’s much cooler than Independence Day so maybe it’s War of the Worlds: The Series. It’s all about the remaining humans banding together to fight extraterrestrials months after the aliens have decimated our planet.
The opening is so hardcore. Children narrate the backstory over school kid drawings of aliens wiping out the army, blasting an EMP, catching kids and harnessing them with spinal implants to be drones. Hell, the kids talk about how all their parents died! So this ain’t about whoopin’ E.T.’s ass. It’s about damn, we just need to make it through.
Tom (Noah Wyle) is second in command to Weaver (Will Patton), but Tom’s the star. His son Ben has been harnessed, but he’s got two other kids with him. He used to be a history professor so he puts all the sci-fi into historical context. At this point they already have terminology and signals to mobilize and organize missions.
My favorite part of these survival stories is always: Where do we find supplies when everything is gone? Well, “Falling Skies” has got that. The supermarkets are already picked over, so they have to go out of the way and find warehouses, and even those are half-raided. They do eat a cupcake in one scene. I don’t know how that stayed fresh. It wasn’t Hostess, and it’s spent 9 lonely months in the bakery section.
The social aspect is really interesting too. With episodic television they have time to really explore how much the characters’ lives have changed. Anne (Moon Bloodgood) used to be a pediatrician. Now she’s the medic in the field. Tom used to tell his teenage son he couldn’t ride his bike at night. Now he gives him ammo for the road. Even the kids reminisce about what life used to be. They’d rather be in school than fighting aliens (so be careful what you wish for, kids).
The new makeshift military is in conflict with the “civilians.” It’s funny because the military was wiped out so these soldiers were also civilians. They take the perspective that the civilians are a burden in this battle, but of course the civilians are all we’re fighting for. What do we win if we eliminate our society in the process? That will be fascinating week to week. Tom has historical context to analyze that conflict too. There also seem to be other human factions to cause problems for the survivors.
Of course it’s an action show and the battles so far are cool. It’s more one on one, or one on two fights with the aliens. That’s better because if they did a whole CGI army of aliens it would just look cheap. I’m sure they’ll get there at some point but the intimate scuffles are good. The burnt out streets look like the future war in The Terminator.
The aliens resemble lizard octopi. They look impressive, obviously CGI and maybe some practical ones, but they’re definitely mean aliens. And when they bring one down, you kind of feel for the dying alien with a close-up on his gasping face. But don’t be killing us and taking our children, dudes.
I’m into “Falling Skies.” I don’t necessarily care that it’s aliens, but I don’t mind. They’re the monsters, but it’s the shambles of society and how we put it back together that have me hooked.