TV review: Falling Skies

By
From the June 14, 2012 edition

I commend the writers and producers of TNT’s “Falling Skies” for attempting to make a series that appeals to broader audiences than just sci-fi and alien fans, but that also turned out to be the show’s biggest blunder. The early episodes of Season 2 represent an improvement over the first season, yet they still have enough flaws that I’m hesitant to claim “Falling Skies” has reached its potential.

In Season 1 we saw survivors of an alien invasion band together, build a militia and fight back against a far superior force. It’s not an original concept (see also: “Battlestar Galactica”), but as a premise, it offers the chance to examine human nature and how it would play out in the most dire, every man-for-himself circumstances. On rare occasion, “Falling Skies” found an interesting beat along those lines.

Unfortunately the series fell back on too-comfortable rhythms of how to defeat the aliens and how humanity (love, family, honor, etc.) can survive in the wake of apocalyptic genocide. While defeating the aliens is an important plot component — one which “Falling Skies” doesn’t always handle well — it’s the schmaltzy moments involving Tom (Noah Wyle), his three sons and Tom’s love interest, Anne (Moon Bloodgood), that really brought the narrative into groan-worthy territory.

Season 2 doesn’t seem to abandon the elements I didn’t like, but they’ve been toned down. Also, the overall narrative is darker, even if the plot is often exceedingly predictable.

This season seems to indicate a step in the right direction by embracing the despair of the survivors’ situation. That could signal better, more intense episodes down the line. I’m just afraid “Falling Skies” may never be able to — or intend to — achieve that level of storytelling.