The Skies are Falling! The Skies are Falling!
Everything I thought I knew about TV is wrong. Seriously. On Sunday, the two-hour premiere of Falling Skies
aired, and an alien apocalypse descended upon the fair city of Boston; I
didn't notice, but apparently 5.9 million viewers did. It's not hard
for me to think of reasons why this show was so off my radar. Maybe it's
because it's an original sci-fi show on TNT, maybe it's because nobody cares about TNT's other Boston-based show Rizzoli and Isles, or maybe it's because everyone else was watching the season finale of Game of Thrones.
But then I looked up Nielsen Viewer Ratings for the first time. Turns out, 5.9
million is the most viewers for a scripted cable show premiere, since
Rizzoli and Isles's 7.9 last year! Is your mind not blown? Were you
watching this, too, or is it (as I suspect) just the same people who actually give Jay
Leno good ratings?
those of you scrambling to catch up via DVR, here's what you need to
know about our imminent, Steven Spielberg-produced demise. The show
thankfully begins in media res, which is refreshing for a feature-length
series premiere. Who cares about origin stories anymore? I want to see
some aliens destroy some stuff. But the opening is already being lambasted
as a Walking Dead knock-off, though. Here's Michael L. Moore from examiner.com: "Where The Walking Dead had strong acting and a solid sense of camaraderie among the remaining zombie apocalypse survivors, Falling Skies is sadly just the opposite." It scares me that The Walking Dead
is the benchmark for good acting. Anyway, we quickly find out that the
aliens have successfully invaded the Hub, there is a pretty organized
militaristic resistance, and the twist is that the aliens are after our
alien invasion and ensuing fight for liberation superimposed onto the
landscape of Boston is a fun idea. But just when it seems like, "Hey,
finally a show set in Boston that isn't heavy-handed about it," we meet
our hero, Tom Mason. Tom (Noah Wyle of ER
fame) is a decently fleshed-out character. He's adapted well to his
dystopian world, despite having been an American history teacher in his
pre-invasion life. The problem is that Tom doesn't miss a chance to
spout Revolutionary War trivia/knowledge. I guess it is a
change of pace for Hollywood to portray Bostonians as having a
savant-like knowledge of colonial New England, as opposed to making us
all be from Southie.
writers have tried to twist or invert common archetypes with the show's
other characters, but miss the mark. Tom's oldest son/ fellow
resistance fighter, Hal, finds himself in a love-triangle between his
gun-toting girlfriend Karen and the very Catholic Lourdes. Usually, the
charming guy leaves his ascetic girlfriend for the un-repressed, bad
girl. I suppose when the writers inverted that formula, they forgot that
the motivation is that usually that the new girl puts out; I doubt
devout Lourdes will. There's also John Pope, the ambiguously good/ bad
guy, who drinks, yet is highly literate. He's even witty to boot. What a
great character you may say. I agree; it has been great since Robert
Louis Stevenson thought up Long John Silver in 1883. Finally, Moon
Bloodgood (O's: 6; other vowels: 0) plays a pediatrician against type;
she's actually pretty good.
the debut showed us a lot of different sides to this series. The first
hour had a pretty large-scale alien invasion plot, full of "skitters"
and "mechs" and some decent special effects. The second half was more
about the characters' emotional reactions to an unseen enemy. Maybe next
week we'll tune in to see where this show decides to take itself, if we
haven't already picked some other guilty pleasure to watch in the same
time slot (hi there, Next Food Network Star). Otherwise we'll never know
if Tom is reunited with his middle son, who was kidnapped by aliens.
Oh, did I forget to mention that they hooked this harness up to the
kid's spine that makes him, like, an alien-zombie slave? Oh well; made
READ: "Will Falling Skies be the Apocalypse Bostonians have Awaited?"