TNT series 'Falling Skies' opens 2nd season with taut two-hour premiere
When the smoke cleared from the onslaught of new sci-fi TV series of the past
couple of years, very few were left standing. Among the surprise winners was "Falling
Skies," TNT's hourlong drama (with Steven Spielberg listed as executive
producer) set in the aftermath of a devastating worldwide alien invasion. While
generic in some ways, the show was also fairly compelling television: Wisely
skipping past the invasion itself, the show focused on its quasi-military ragtag
band of humans trying to survive an unforeseen catastrophe and remain sane.
"Falling Skies" garnered very strong critical acclaim and even stronger
audience respect: It was the highest-rated new cable series of 2011. Now it's
back for a second 10-episode season (starting June 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT), and
we're happy to say that the two-hour season premiere, consisting of the episodes
"Worlds Apart" and "Shall We Gather at the River," jumps right back into the
story line at breakneck speed and features a higher level of intensity and
emotional involvement than the first season.
When Season 1 ended, former history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), second in command of the 2nd Mass band
of survivors, boarded a Skitter spacecraft to get answers and possibly save his
son Ben (Connor Jessup), still suffering the effects of
having worn an alien harness. As "Worlds Apart" opens, Tom returns from his
three-month ordeal but is accidentally injured. As Tom struggles to recover and
flashes back to his time on the alien vessel, 2nd Mass commander Weaver (Will Patton) must make some difficult decisions
and stretch his resources to keep the group safe from attack as it struggles to
reach Charleston, S.C.
For one thing, there are better production values and the story has opened up
a bit more, making better use of its sets and locations. The special effects
have also gotten a new coat of paint, so to speak, and the alien attackers and
ships look much more realistic than they did in the show's early going. But most
importantly, showrunners Remi Aubuchon and Greg Beeman keep the story moving,
answering just enough questions to avoid frustration while also keeping some
things still close to the vest.
Among the highlights of the first two hours are Mason's first meeting with an
alien leader (which ends with a chilling exchange of dialogue about humankind's
own history with suppression and occupation); the painful extraction of a tiny
Skitter drone; several tense battles and a gripping attempt to get the
convoy over a hastily repaired bridge, with Skitters just moments behind. Wyle,
Patton and Moon Bloodgood as Anne, the group's
doctor, have all settled comfortably into their characters, while Drew Roy is a
growing presence as Mason's oldest son, Hal, who is evolving into as sharp a
strategist and as fierce a fighter as his father.
By recasting the Skitters as occupiers and the humans as an underground
resistance movement, "Falling Skies" has put a different twist on the standard
alien invasion plot, concentrating more on how human beings adapt to a new and
dangerous world instead of simply how they flee from disaster. The character
interactions here are much more believable, while the characters themselves --
particularly the younger ones -- are much less irritating than those of "V" or "Terra
Nova," two shows partially doomed by their annoying family dynamics.
"Falling Skies" doesn't quite have the cinematic gloss of some high-end cable
shows, but its characters have depth, its menace is frightening, and its story
has not yet gotten too overcomplicated, as so many shows do. We liked "Falling
Skies" in its first season but were never quite sure if we would return from
episode to episode. After viewing the first two hours of Season 2, we're
instantly ready for more.
Season 2 of "Falling Skies" premieres Sunday, June 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on
Geeking Out On...J.J. Abrams Directing 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars'
J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek Into Darkness' is set to open this week, then begins the task of directing a new 'Star Wars' film for 2015. Check out this episode where Kurt argues why he's the man for the job and how it's enough already about the lens flares. Also, a few other "double dippers" in the dueling franchises as well as a few others.