Falling Skies Series Premiere Review: History Repeats Itself...

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There's nothing especially unique about the premise of Falling Skies. Throughout the two-hour premiere, various scenes reminded me of War of the Worlds, Independence Day and even Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

So, what makes this Steven Spielberg-produced drama stand out? Those were all movies. This is a TV show.

Falling Skies Premiere Scene

Indeed, the two-hour episode (which I'd argue was one hour too long, as the second half strayed too far from the main, engrossing alien takeover; and 120 minutes of time is simply a lot to ask from viewers unfamiliar with a show) played out like a film, replete with impressive effects, production values and multi-dimensional characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's why:

Noah Wyle. Who didn't love him as John Carter on ER? It's been years since Wyle has been a regular on the small screen, and he's the perfect fit here as Tom Mason, a father of three, desperately seeking that third.

It's a subtle, reserved performance, with Wyle saving outpouring of emotion for scenes that truly call for it. Tom comes across as a pragmatic optimist, someone who can honestly refer to civilians as a "hindrance," while saying they also inspire him to fight. His history references also make for a nice touch.

The dueling human camps. Falling Skies doesn't just pit man versus alien. Hints of tension between the controlling army and a civilian camp lead by Captain Weaver (Will Patton, appropriately gruff) make for an interesting dichotomy between the people themselves.

Multiple types of aliens. Also a fascinating twist. Why are there two kinds of visitors? Did the Skitters make the Mechs? What does this say about their intentions, their planet of origin? A lot of material to mine here.

Those darn harnesses. This is where Falling Skies very much separates itself from a mere story of alien invasion. Why are kids fitted with foreign-looking attachments? Will they eventually, tragically turn into Skitters as a result?

The two hours felt a bit long, but such an extended premiere did allow for a nice balance between action and human emotion. I feel like I know these characters already, I'm invested in the search for Ben and I'm intrigued by the insightful renegade John Pope (great scenes between his portrayer, Colin Cunningham, and Wyle's Tom in hour two).

I've already seen the third episode and it's even better than the pilot. With the feel of a summer blockbuster and an emotional center anchored by the steady presence of Wyle - along with the potential to fill in blanks such as how the resistance movement was formed and how the characters got to where they are - Falling Skies is at the top of my summer programming list.


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (139 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I really wanted to like it. I'm into sci fi and I like Noah Wylie. The show as so-so, but the commercials really got to me--so many. It was supposed to be limited commercial interruption and there was 30 minutes of commercials for the two hours of show. They really slowed the action down.


I watched the pilot and have a few thoughts. First off: Falling Skies? Really? Is that the best title they could come up with. I would ask wtf is falling? The answer is nothing. Yes, the aliens came from the sky, but if they fell would they have survived? Seriously, they should have questioned the lame title and come up with something better. Noah Wylie cannot act. He just recites lines as if he was still doing E.R.. His characterization and persona never changes. It's not acting just to recite lines. They could have put Jennifer Aniston, Ashton Kucher or Drew Barrymore in his role and it would be the same boring people who cannot act their way out of a paper sack. I get the same reaction to Moon Bloodgood. Is that really acting or walking through the paces in front of a camera? The show is not without merit, but I do not have much hope for a show that picked the worst title in the history of entertainment.


I really wanted to like this. Twenty minutes into it I kept thinking it would get better. It has to get better. I want it to get better. I found it very cliche and was insulted that I was being asked to care about these characters when none of them did anything to earn my respect. We are giving a brief intro to the alien invasion done poorly from the eyes of children and then dumped into a firefight, that was just poorly executed. The resistance fighters and survivors did not look like they were really fighting to survive.Nothing was believable. We are introduced to too many stereotypical SciFi characters. There are too many good apocalyptic scifi shows out there that do it right. The re imagined Battlestar, The Walking Dead, and even V. The gang of outlaws at the armory looked more like an early 90s metal band than survivalist thugs. There was no fear in the eyes and hearts of the resistance fighters. Even the fact that the children are being harnessed for some unknown purpose was so predictable. Even the music was lame. It was just really, really bad.


After all the hype, just crap, I thought I might have missed the first hour, No substance. After the first hour, I was searching for a Seinfeld rerun


Not really much original here. Why not simply adapt from an original work by an established SF author? I'm thinking particularly of the novel "The Alien Years" by Robert Silverberg. This would work well as a mini-series, as the plot unfolds over an approximate 50-year period and follows the story of a family as it attempts to adapt and overcome. Silverberg's aliens land, take over and do their thing which is, well--alien. They basically ignore the human race, but strike back ferociously when resisted. AND they do it in original ways. TV should stop the dumbing down and treat its audience as though it can think for itself. Most tv and movie producers simply do not understand the real SF community. Involve more writers like Silverberg and others. That's my take on it.


I love this show so far feel exactly how Matt explained and don't get the backlash in some of these comments.It actually feels like a real life scenario that would take place and I think too many people are trying to compare it to other shows and movies while not watching it for what it is.I wouldn't strictly call it Sci-Fi it's more along the lines of Real-Fi and way more believable than any other Sci-Fi type of series,it feels like these are real people and I could picture this type of scenario happening in my city.I'm glad that it's not just action oriented and that there aren't people constantly running around being chased and killed because that leaves out them "Real" moments and wouldn't give you time to invest any real emotion into the characters thus' not leaving you dying for another episode.All in all I think it balances out the Action and Drama perfectly and I'm sure many others will feel the same and it will be a success.


This show is actually very well written, well acted, and shows a LOT of promise. I am definitely hooked on this series and will stay faithful til the end. To those posters who wanted more action, more shooting, more gore, more blood… This show was touted as a Drama from the beginning, not an Action-Thriller. And this isn't another brainless Michael Bay movie with a multi-million dollar effects budget. From a purely military standpoint, I appreciated the subtle and slightly inefficient tactics used by newcomers and the relatively untrained, versus a few people who clearly will be shown to be military veterans or trained police. One poster complained about poor tactics as if this were an oversight of the show. I beg to differ... I believe this was intentionally done. There were a few scenes where people in the background ARE manipulating their weapons correctly and tactically. Remember, in the event of a meltdown, it will take at least 6-12 months for the untrained to really become comfortable with firearms and other weapons, and that will depend largely on their circumstances, fitness, and desire to learn. I also greatly appreciated the references to military history and the European colonization of America, followed by the fortunate victory for us in the American Revolution. Character development will be key over the next few episodes. Noah Wyle is a father who has effectively "lost" one son to the aliens, has another young son who still hasn't let go of the past and wants things to return to normal, and has another son going through the normal (and difficult from a father's perspective) separation from teenager to man... it will be interesting to see more development in the family arena. Moon Bloodgood was fantastic (as always!) and I look forward to learning more about the rest of characters forming up the main squad/ platoon level personnel. The tension between Wyle and Will Patton was very believeable and will make for good story lines later. The main negative for me was the heavy commercial interruptions… You get immersed in this post-apocalyptic environment, then are besieged by commercials selling pizza, new cars, goofy Aflac insurance with a singing duck, high-priced sneakers, etc. (But then again, maybe that’s a good reference point of America… we focus on materials things today, but in an event such as that shown in Falling Skies, we will all truly learn what really matters.) Well done, I say. Quo vadimus.


Bleah- tired of the same old alien/machines invasion and of the military and "civilians" to be defended- this is boring, the underground/aftermath scenery desolating. Not good. i would have rather watched The Event for a seconds season -just an example - than this. Take it back, it's no good, and the main actor is also not a very sympathetic face...bleah again.


Don't want to write a whole paragraph about this show because it doesn't even deserve it. Ads aside, Falling Skies just poorly executed, from story to cast.

Matt richenthal

@t107tex: Can you name a series that has you caring about its characters 61 seconds in?

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