Falling Skies: There goes the neighbourhood

(Episode 1) America, some time in the future, a few years after aliens have invaded Earth and set up camp in huge, long-legged fortresses atop an unspecified town. Why are they here? Not sure, but it could be something to do with the way they round up kids and attach nasty devices to their backs (this is termed “harnessing”). Shades of Torchwood: Children of Earth there.

There are pockets of resistance, and one such pocket contains professor of military history Tom Mason (Noah Wyle). He’s not your typical action hero, being a more brains than brawn type. Strategy is his area of expertise, having studied every battle from the Ancient Greeks to whenever his present day is. He can blether on at length about Trojan horses and so on, and his more gung-ho colleagues tend to glaze over, but you know that in a fight between the plucky little earthling and the heavily-armoured and hard-to-kill alien, it’ll be intellect that wins the day.

As is customary in these things, Tom has emotional baggage in the form of his three sons, Ben, Matt and Hal. Mama Mason is missing, presumed squished by nasty aliens, and oldest son Hal has a shock when he sees his younger brother Ben (the middle Mason son) harnessed and captured by the aliens. Tom and Hal resolve to rescue Ben, but Tom knows that they’ll need to use cunning to do it. Meanwhile there’s food to be gathered (from dwindling supplies on supermarket shelves) and a band of refugee people to be moved to a safer location.

The aliens come in two sorts. There are robot-like two-legged versions which shoot laser beams, and ones that look remarkably similar to the prawn-like creatures in District 9, only they aren’t as sarcastic, and here they’re the overlords rather than the unwilling minority.

Among the humans, there’s a friendly female doctor in the form of Anne Glass (played by the fabulously-named Moon Bloodgood), and a nasty military type, Captain Weaver, who is not at all on the same page as Tom in terms of strategic thinking.

A little formulaic, then, but interesting enough to make me want to watch the next episode, if only to see how Tom’s plan of “Retreat – regroup – return – REVENGE!” pans out.

Posted by PLA

5 Comments

Filed under Drama

5 responses to “Falling Skies: There goes the neighbourhood

  1. Corumba Love

    Hey Pause

    Did you see “The Walking Dead” (TWD) towards the turn of last year? It is an AMC production; ie the ad supported cable channel responsible for Mad Men.

    The story itself (see Wiki; season two is due in the Autumn) is based on a comic book but is absolutely first rate TV – on both story, acting, budget and effects grounds – and deals with humans trying to survive after the world has been over-run by zombies.

    Point is that Falling Skies is a direct descendant of TWD, and while it’s pretty good, I’m struggling to avoid calling it MeToo TV with aliens subbed for the undead. Falling Skies is fine enough television but not a patch on TWD (the first episode of which is better than big-budget zombie films) and while the zombies/aliens are the selling point, it’s the human interaction that drives the stories.

    Prob in grandma egg sucking edu mode here, if so sorry. Even so, should mention bonus TWD enticer: Andrew Lincoln (This Life, Teachers, films and voiceovers) is the main man.

    • pauseliveaction

      I shall seek out TWD, CL – it sounds quite the ticket. In return (if we’re not still in grandma egg sucking mode), if you haven’t seen District 9 – do it this very weekend.

      • Corumba Love

        Yep, saw District 9: excellent film.

        Just to emphasise, that first episode of The Walking Dead is stunningly good and was shown without ads when first broadcast on FX in the UK. If you disagree I’ll rustle up a trebor chew or two to boost the PLA post apocalypse reserve.

        Posted on behalf of grandmasuckseggs.edu

  2. pauseliveaction

    I’ve put TWD on my LoveFilm list, and look forward to enjoying it with a post-apocalyptic Trebor chew or two.

  3. Corumba Love

    Here in House of CL, me ‘n’ Old Girl have been couch-potating all over the shop in a riot of catchup TV. This includes coming to grips with the whole first season of Falling Skies. As you suggested, it’s not first rate television but is watchable nevertheless.

    A borderline wild twist towards the end is the discovery by Moon Youngblood (it should be written into her contract that every part she plays uses her real name; and I’m not excepting anything by Jane Austen here) that the shellfish are victims too. It turns out that they are the harnessed captives from a previous invasion that have grown exo-skeletons. That happens you know; the last prawn cocktail I ordered tasted like it hailed from a galaxy long long ago and far far away.

    The prawn identity has disturbing implications for Ben Mason. Despite being de-harnessed following some ninja-level blowtorchery (the kind you might endure at Holby’s Other Hospital) he’s growing calluses that could withstand a nuclear attack. Unless someone tracks down a warehouse full of Bazuka Gel before long, then Tom Mason’s world may very soon become his lobster.

    There’s other stuff and it’s all jolly good fun but, after the sex and blood splattered US cable goodness we’ve seen of late, Falling Skies plays out prissily like those punches-pulled shows that BBC1 once used to import for the eight to nine pm slots in midweek.

    Actually FS is better than that, the writing is consistent and strong while some of the characters are brilliant – I’m thinking here of the complex & charismatic ex-con Pope.

    Looking forward to season two if only because I’m intrigued by brief glimpses of the real aliens: full-body Easter Island statues, stretched by African tribesmen and adapted for Crosby beach by Anthony Gormley. Ooh, I like what they’re building too: it looks like that bridge that Sonny draws in “I Robot”.

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