What do four million people do on Sunday nights? They all watch Falling Skies, an original sci-fi series on cable television channel TNT. The show follows a band of Boston-area survivors six months after a catastrophic alien invasion. There’ve been worse ideas for a television show. Remember ABC’s Cavemen?
Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a history professor who finds himself thrust into command leadership of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, known in the series as 2nd Mass. Alongside Wyle is Moon Bloodgood as Anne Glass, a medical doctor who is close to Mason and the 2nd Mass.
Throughout the first season anyone watching the show was anxious for Tom and Anne to get together. Her husband and son were killed in the invasion, and her fondness of Tom and his three sons is heartfelt. Tom’s wife also fell during the invasion.
From a viewer’s perspective, and considering very few humans remain and are outnumbered by the aliens, what are the two waiting for already; maybe something better will show up at the coffee shop? Well here’s a news flash for both of them: No one better is going to show up, and there’s no coffee shop. It got blown up!
Indeed, there’s nothing but surviving for members of the 2nd Mass and the task of getting on with their lives. If ever there was a time for pragmatism blended with carnal gratification, it’s six months after a devastating alien invasion.
Perhaps Tom is distracted by the fact that his middle son, Ben, has been kidnapped by the aliens, who, by the way, are called Skitters. The Skitters are a six-legged species that resemble humanoids. They communicate by radio frequency, which means they have to “harness” a human—usually a child—to act as their loudspeaker whenever they want to communicate with the surviving humans.
Tom wants what any of us would want in that situation, and makes it his sole purpose to rescue Ben, played very nicely by 18-year-old Connor Jessup, a rising young star who shows plenty of promise. Those of you who’ve already seen Season One already know what happens, so I won’t ruin any of the successes and failures by letting on about this particular storyline. You’ll have to take my word for it when I say it’s a developing and satisfying story that works on many levels.
The Skitters are accompanied by Mechs, bipedal robots who conveniently can shoot bullets and rockets from their exoskeletons, and use laser-guided targeting systems that triangulate their foe, making their shots extremely accurate. They can also shoot a ray that stuns humans, which is their M.O. when it comes to harnessing children to act as their vocal cords.
If there are any knocks on this show in its debut season, it would be its on-going problem with clunky dialogue and storylines that viewers often see coming a mile away. Still, the show has held viewers’ attention through the entire first season with consistent ratings week in and week out. Read what you want to into those numbers, but four million happy viewers each week translates into better advertising rates, which means more money for each episode—including writers—in season two.
Watch this show. It’s fun if harrowing at times, and it shows a lot of potential. Oh, and forgive this one tiny little spoiler, but Anne and Tom finally kiss, in the last episode of the season. Sue me for telling you.
Todd Lam, a writer from Salt Lake City writes for CableTV.com and is often found browsing the internet, watching TV, or nerding out on the internet.