Monday, July 11, 2011

Falling Skies - Sci Fi, Summer Style

TNT has gotten into the science fiction genre with Falling Skies, a tense alien invasion drama that is far superior to anything V tried to do. Despite that, there are flaws.

Six months after an alien invasion left the Earth devastated, 90% of its population dead or captured, and all communications grids destroyed, a small group of survivors in Boston have banded together in what they call the Second Massachusetts. One of their leaders is Tom Mason, a history professor who specializes in the American Revolution. His wife was killed shortly after the invasion, and one of this three sons was missing, presumably abducted by the aliens. All Tom wants to do is find his son, but he takes part in recon missions to gather guns and food. During one operation, his sixteen-year-old son, Hal, sees his missing brother, and Tom has a mission.

The aliens, called "skitters" because of the way they walk, have taken over all the cities, including Boston. They essentially look like big skittering insects. Also with them are "mechs", or big robots with two legs that are equipped with a lot of killing power. It turns out that abducted children are harnessed with symbiotic devices that control, sedate, and heal them. Any attempts to remove the harnesses have resulted in killing the children attached to them.

What elevates this from standard sci-fi stuff is the caliber of the cast and the humanity of the plots. Noah Wyle stars as Tom, and takes what could be a boring hero role and adds devotion to his sons and a sense of duty. Wyle is an extremely likable actor, a lot like his former colleague, George Clooney, and always brings intelligence to any part. Moon Bloodgood (who earns the award for most colorful name) plays a pediatrician, Anne, who is friends with Tom. She advocates for the civilians that are attached to Second Massachusetts. The most interesting character is Pope, a gang leader who captured Tom's group during a mission, and was later made a captive of the Second Massachusetts. Played by Colin Cunningham, Pope is wily, mischievous, and cynical, and manages to steal every scene he's in.

Falling Skies also adds a lot of humanity into the plots. Tom is successful in the Second Massachusetts because of his knowledge of historical battles. His love and devotion to his sons clearly drive his actions. Anne's Uncle Scott teaches biology to the civilian children who have not been abducted by the skitters, and helps out in the kitchen and in developing communications. One of Anne's assistants is Lourdes, a young lady whose belief in God hasn't wavered. Plus, why do the "mechs" have two legs, instead of the six legs sported by the skitters? When humans dream of robots, our robots look like us. What makes the "mechs" so different?

There are flaws, however. The plot once required a skitter and a formerly harnessed child to be left alone unguarded. Lourdes' expressions of faith have been a little clunky.

All in all, it is an enjoyable series, and if you like this kind of thing, enjoy.

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