I’ve often stumbled upon Falling Skies on the SyFy network but I didn’t really follow the show because I didn’t see the beginning. Still, everytime I saw a plug, I would wonder about it and finally, I broke down and sat through it on video. My take on this Steven Spielberg produced sci fi series? — not bad, and certainly worth a watch.
When the aliens attack the earth, key cities fall to the invaders and children are used by the aliens for slave labor using organic mind control devices called harnesses. But still, what remains of mankind band together to survive. Among them is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a former history professor who is now second in command of the 2nd Masssachussets (2nd Mass) , a unit of 200 civilians and 100 fighters who despite all odds try to keep the resistance alive. Aiding Tom in the fight is his commanding officer Captain Dan Weaver (Will Patton), Mason’s eldest son Hal (Drew Roy), and former pediatrician turned combat doctor Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) while Tom’s nine-year-old Matt (Maxim Knight) does what he can for the resistance. When Tom manages to save his middle son Ben (Connor Jessup) from the control of aliens they call Skitters, they discover that the connection shared by the harnessed children and their guardians run deep and Tom is afraid that he may completely lose his child, as well as the other children to the aliens after all.
For a television series, Falling Skies is pretty well made. It follows a very strong main storyline that progresses with each episode although I must admit that there were really subplots that were fairly predictable. There were also dramatic elements that seemed forced and this seems to be the weakness of the series in some points — falling for the cliches such as long speeches on faith, unity, heroism, et al. There are also many actions undertaken by the characters that make no sense at all leaving viewers to wonder whether or not they are thinking at all. And the timing in which some of the series regulars were killed off seem kind of off. I think that these were the real moments that the series could have milked for drama because viewers have become invested in the characters but at most, their deaths seemed abrupt with no set up whatsoever. Shame.
However, because of the strength of the main plot, these lapses still seem forgiveable. The casting is a major factor of this success. The Masons are the heart of the series and Tom Mason’s interactions with his boys are phenomenal. For a family of guys, Mason’s strength as a leader and his vulnerability as a father, conveyed with each hug, each handshake, with every shoulder tap with his boys speak for the direness of the situation, as each look is filled with a sense of desperation and helplessness that could melt even the hardest of hearts. I think Noah Wyle has really evolved as an actor from his ER days. My favorite of the Mason kids is actually Ben. He manages his fear really well, and in each scene, he is able to show off his strength and at the same time uncertainty about his future.
The season finales are always strong with the cliffhangers that keep viewers guessing until the next season. Actually, what keeps the series interesting is the development of the resistance and the unveiling of new alien forms. Whereas in Season 1, there were only Skitters and Mechs, fisheads or alien overlords make their debut in Season 2 and they pose even more danger to the resistance. The element of suspense is also commendable as it gets increasingly difficult deciding who is batting for the side of the resistance and who is not, with new characters introduced while others resurface out of the blue, their loyalties unclear.
All in all, I don’t think Falling Skies is the best Sci Fi series out there (I still think Fringe is the best) but with its great execution, and promising hints of the future, Falling Skies deserves to be watched and followed for a few more seasons.