Friday, June 17, 2011

Advanced New Show Review: TNT's "Falling Skies"

The Cast of "Falling Skies"
Credit: TNT

My review of TNT's new drama Falling Skies (from executive producer Stephen Spielberg, if that actually means anything) is after the jump.

When I put this DVD in the DVD player, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had heard very good things from other critics on the Twitterverse, so my expectations were on the high side. Plus, I'm a sucker for a well done Sci-Fi show. There aren't too many of those out there, so I was hoping that this could fill that particular void in my TV viewing. I wasn't expecting greatness or for it to be the best cable drama of all time, but my expectations were higher then when I watch other new shows.

What I found was a very capable Sci-Fi show that held my attention very well. That's all I can really ask for from a show, and this one does it well. It creates a world that I actually want to spend time in and characters that aren't flat. That's all that I really want and really need from a summer TV series. I don't need something with complex themes, symbolism, and other intelligent items like those (I'll get that when I watch Breaking Bad). All I really need from this series was a well done action show that doesn't do much beyond keep me entertained. Sure I had high expectations, they weren't completely met, but I'm fine with what this show actually is.

Part of what makes this show fun to watch is what they do with the plot. The show decided that it didn't want to do anything with the invasion (heck, it probably doesn't have the CGI budget to do anything on that big of a scale) and it starts after the invasion. Most of the human race has been wiped out and we're left with a small group of people made up of a combination of "fighters" and civilians. What I like about this is that it brings us into an established world. The show doesn't need to waste time establishing a status quo. It does have to introduce us to the world (*), but it doesn't have to spend time establishing it. That allows more time for whatever character development that the show decides to do and it allows the show to launch right into the story that it wants to tell.

(*) The show gives us the backstory pretty much immediately. I won't say how it does this for all of the spoilerphobes out there, but I will say that it's very creepy and very successful.

If there's one thing that can make or break a Sci-Fi show is how good the visuals of the series are. If the CG and shooting locations suck, there's no reason to watch the show. I could tell that the producers of the show were working to make sure that this wasn't a show where the visuals faltered. Even on my screeners, the show looked great. The locations that the series is shot on are beautiful. Especially in the first episode, the show makes great use of background. I also have to give the series credit for the aliens. The "Skitters" are very creepy things (I won't be saying anything more for the spoilerphobes) and whenever they're deployed, they look great. They also provide a real threat. It's not a stretch of the imagination to see why they have taken over the world.

Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a former history teacher who has taken up arms with the 2nd Mass. Wyle does a great job as the leading man of the show. Mason isn't the most developed character on the show (but I've only seen three episodes, so that's not a negative), but he's still a presence that isn't a detriment to the show. His character also adds an emotional core which helps keep my interest in the show. He does a great job with the serialized plotline of the show (which I'm not going to get into here, because it's a surprise that's revealed in the pilot).

The characters that they surrounded Mason with aren't nearly as strong, but they aren't terribly written either. They come off as people, but not particularly complex people. Moon Bloodgood plays a doctor friend of Tom's who gets to walk on screen for a few minutes in each episode and do something interesting. It's not a problem that I have with the actress, Bloodgood is fine, it's the character is on the bland side. Will Patton also gets onscreen for a few minutes each episode and gets to act imposing. There's also Tom's youngest son Matt, who provides a great emotional core for his father. This is a great little character who has a lot of potential.

Collin Cunningham is introduced to us in the two hour premiere, and he's probably my favorite character on the screen. This is probably because he's the most developed character on screen. I'm not going into too much detail on his character because I don't want to spoil anything, but he's a very interesting character and Cunningham is giving a great performance.

If there's one element of the show that the show could live without, it's the love triangle between Tom's son Hal, his love Karen, and the other love interest Lourdes. It just seems unnecessary to have the love triangle thrown into the story. I like the characters outside of the storyline, especially Hal, but I don't like the storyline itself.

If I were you, I would definitely tune into this show. It makes for perfect summer television with good storytelling, great action, somewhat interesting characters, and some very cool aliens.

Falling Skies debuts Sunday June 19th at 9PM on TNT with a two hour premiere and then moves to it's normal timeslot of Sunday at 10PM.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Some ground rules for you to follow when commenting here:
1. This is probably the most important rule: be nice. I will not tolerate any rudeness towards other commenters or myself.
2. Be relevant, comments will be deleted if they are not relevant to the discussion.
3. No spoilers, I and many other people don't want to know what your mother's, sister's, best friend's, brother said about what's going to happen on Chuck. There are many places for discussing what's going to happen on the show in the future, this isn't one of them.
4. Please hit preview to preview your comment before pressing post comment to be sure that it will be logged.

Thank you, keep reading, and enjoy the conversation!