Monday, June 20, 2011

TV PILOT REVIEW: TNT's "Falling Skies"

My snap judgment of TNT's new alien invasion series "Falling Skies" is that it has potential. Of course, so did "The Event" and "FlashForward." The difference is this was produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Greg Beeman ("Heroes" and "Smallville"), and written by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot); it's on a cable network, which are notorious for not having trigger fingers when it comes to canceling new shows; and it debuted in the summer, which limits competition and allows for audience growth. The odds are technically in its favor. Its saving grace, however, will be whether it can deliver on the story.

So far we've learned that:
  • there are two varieties of aliens: the Mechs (robots) and the Skitters (six-legged creatures)
  • the mother ship left Earth
  • the Mechs are rounding up the children and attaching what is referred to as harnesses to them, which will kill the child if removed
  • there are factions of resistance in groups of 300 people: 100 soldiers guarding 200 civilians
  • the soldiers are also in charge of gathering food and ammunition
  • there are small rebel factions that rob from the resistance

The reason I'm tuning in next week is because there's still much more to uncover. I read somewhere that the harnesses aren't what they seem, and the season's promo insinuates that while it turns them into drones/puppets, it also cures them of their ailments. There's also the good point that one of the students made: If humans design things in their likeness, why wouldn't the aliens? What is the disconnect between the 6-legged Skitters and the 2-legged Mechs? And why did the alien they killed seem like it was trying to talk to them as it slowly died?
The promo made it seem like there's a chance that these Skitters were originally human, which makes me wonder if those harnesses are first curing the children and then mutating them into Skitters. There was also a scene in the promo where the outlaw John Pope (Colin Cunningham from "Stargate SG-1") and Matt (Maxim Knight), the son of the second in command Tom (Noah Wyle from "ER"), find a bullet that can break through the Skitters armor, suggesting there might be hope for them yet.
All of it is very intriguing, and the criminal Pope and his former feisty ally Margaret (Sarah Carter from Final Destination 2) keep it interesting too. The one thing I'd say sets it apart the most from all of those other failed alien invasion shows is that it's not about the imminent danger of some inexplicable occurrence or unforeseen species. The invasion has already happened. We're in the thick of it. It's an interesting look at how humans, especially Americans, would react if suddenly tomorrow wasn't guaranteed and they could no longer rely on politicians to keep the war on foreign soil. Of course, it's also mindless sci-fi summer fun.

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