Falling Skies is the latest sci-fi television series from TNT or any network I’m aware of to make its way onto the small screen since Stargate Universe. The show is set during the aftermath of an alien attack that took out (according to the show) all but 10% of the population six months after the initial invasion. The premier portrays a group of 600 survivors banding together to resist the aliens, nicknamed “skitters”, hellbent on obliterating the remaining human occupants. This new series fills the gap left by Stargate Universe on the Syfy network which ultimately failed to resonate with its audience.
Unlike Stargate Universe, Falling Skies has the opportunity to create something new for viewers instead of being saddled by the previous entries in a franchise. TNT has limited experience in sci-fi programming with the pickup of Babylon 5 in 1998 and the failed attempt at a spin-off called Crusade. However, after watching their newest venture into the science fiction realm I have reserved optimism about the success of Falling Skies. The reservations mostly derive from two sources, Twitter negativity and the lackluster special effects.
Twitter & more specifically the hash tag #fallingskies is buzzing with first impressions of the show. From observing the last hour or so of tweets it would seem 40% of viewers had a poor reaction, 30% gave it a mixed review and the rest were in my camp with a solid to enthused view of the production. Most of the negatives from the show seem to stem from the special effects used to create the alien invaders. The multi-legged “skitters” trying to snuff out the human race look very unrealistic. The rational brain wants to let TNT slide on this issue, since it’s on a station not known for production quality, but after watching Battlestar Galactica it’s difficult to use a candle when you’ve experienced the handiness of a good flash light.
Beyond the thoughts of the Twitter army and dull visuals the plot of the show does a solid job of holding the attention of viewers (this viewer at least). I’m unfamiliar with the previous shows/movies of a Mr. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) but I’m pleased by his performance in Falling Skies. His role in the story put me in mind of Rick Grimes from the AMC show “The Walking Dead”. You have a guy thrust from his previous career into a world where he must fight for his life and his family against impossible odds, all the while exuding an air of calm and confidence. SPOILER: The greatest part of The Walking Dead series is that the zombies aren’t the sole protagonist of the story with other humans causing their fair share of mayhem. In Falling Skies you’re treated to similarly bleak surroundings and a human vs human side story that takes place later on against post apocalyptic outlaws. This addition aided in deploying a new dynamic to the show beyond what you would expect from the “skitters”.
Falling Skies is scheduled to air every Sunday night at 10pm, so with satisfying first impressions aside, it may be months until we see what the rest of the viewership has to say. Whether the show is renewed or canceled it’s off to a fantastic start. Let us know what you think of TNT’s newest foray into the sci-fi genre in the comments.