The Grand Ambitions of "Falling Skies" Don't Always Soar Review

Falling Skies is a television show with a blockbuster concept straight from the mind of one of film and television’s most skilled creators of blockbusters, Steven Spielberg. The TNT drama, whose third season began airing on June 9, chronicles the “second American revolution” that takes place when aliens invade Earth. A small group of survivors forms the 2nd Massachusetts militia and strives to keep resisting the alien threat, especially as their children are kidnapped and “harnessed” by the aliens in a sick form of extraterrestrial possession.

The show’s second season, now out on Blu-ray and DVD, picks up three months after heroic history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) voluntarily boarded an alien spaceship with his eldest son’s former girlfriend, now a harnessed alien servant.

Upon his return, the 2nd Mass is unsure as to whether or not he can be trusted. Is Tom still himself, or is he now under control of the enemy? 2nd Mass Captain Weaver relies on Tom and is inclined to keep his faith in his right hand man, but John Pope, season one scumbag and leader of a group of fighters known as the Berserkers, would rather kill him than find out the hard way. Meanwhile, Tom’s middle son, Ben, has been freed from his harness but finds himself being drawn to a group of aliens trying to organize a rebellion against their own overlords. His connection to the rebels brings even more danger down on the group’s heads. It all culminates in the group’s arrival in Charleston, South Carolina, where a new government has begun to piece itself together and where Tom runs into his former mentor, Arthur Manchester. Manchester, played by Lost’s Terry O’Quinn with his usual magnetism, wants to focus on rebuilding, while Mason wants to continue the rebellion. When these two different strategies and two very stubborn men butt against each other, chaos is bound to ensue.

As I previously said, Falling Skies has a blockbuster concept and big ideas. Unfortunately, it does not always deliver on them. The show is most definitely ambitious, and the special effects are surprisingly good for basic cable--especially in crystal-clear Blu-ray. Wyle is fantastic and likable as Tom; his relationship with his three very different sons and his efforts to keep them safe at all cost make him the emotional center of the program. However, with a show that has as much going on in it as Falling Skies, there are bound to be some characters and plotlines that are less than compelling--in particular, every effort at a romantic subplot that the show tries to run with. The show’s male characters are generally more thought-out and interesting than the female, which is also a shame. This is one of several old-fashioned science-fiction tropes that the show succumbs too easily to, and makes Falling Skies reminiscent of retro Spielberg fare like Close Encounters of the Third Kind in both the best and worst ways. It also bears a striking resemblance to The Walking Dead with its post-apocalyptic setting and its otherworldly villains (and prominently male cast), making it a decent substitute for fans of that show to watch until the zombies return in October.

If you’re looking for a show to tide you over until this fall, and you’re also feeling less than enthused about many of this summer’s big-screen genre offerings, you might as well get caught up on Falling Skies. Each season is only ten episodes, so it’s easy to power through if you like solid science-fiction with a creepy, formidable threat. However, it never reaches the heights that would make it worthy of becoming a true phenomenon.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

The two-disc Blu-ray set includes several audio commentaries featuring Wyle and the writers and directors of the show, as well as behind the scenes featurettes, a fan’s perspective of what it’s like to tour the show’s set, an animated trailer, and a preview of season three.

"Falling Skies: The Complete Second Season" is on sale June 4, 2013 and is rated tv-14. Sci-Fi. Directed by Adam Kane, Greg Beeman, Holly Dale, Sergio Mimica Gezzan. Written by Robert Rodat, Bradley Thompson, David Weddle et. al. . Starring Connor Jessup, Moon Bloodgood, Noah Wyle, Will Patton.

Jun
21
2013
Lee Jutton • Staff Writer

Lee attended NYU for Film & TV Production, but she now works mostly in PR. Her primary obsessions in life are Doctor Who, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Arsenal F.C. When not writing about things she's watched, she's running or kickboxing in preparation for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. 

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