OPED: TNT's 'Falling Skies' Needs A Lift!
A two hour pilot and a full episode in, and I gotta say, I'm pretty disappointed with TNT's new alien sci-fi drama "Falling Skies."
Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, who conceived of the idea with Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot's Robert Rodat, "Falling Skies" seems more like a Skyline than a Battle: Los Angeles.
Meaning it kinda stinks.
The premise works for me; aliens invade earth and a group of survivors are trying to fight back and survive.
However, the story falls flat.
Spoilers, ahoy, I guess.
Here are some of my issues:
The aliens aren't scary:
The aliens don't seem like much of a threat, let alone a conquering army. Only a couple aliens are usually shown at a time and never really grouped together. Usually, there is only one "skitter" and maybe one or two "Mechs." This was more prevalent in the pilot where the aliens were mostly shown in the dark. The second episode did do a much better job as the human rebels did capture one, but nothing to get my heart pumpin'.
I also have problems with the CGI, which makes them come off as too "video game-ish." Actually, that might be an insult to gamers, as some games are pretty bad ass. I could download a trial Flash program and create these aliens myself. The captured alien looked pretty good; they need to ditch the CGI, particularly with the "Mechs."
My view: By the third episode we'll get more from the aliens, so there's hope. Oh, and ditch the CGI - did I say that already?
Where do I begin with this one?
300-400 people walking and driving around in the day light with an advanced alien army colonizing the earth? Do I need to say more?
300-400 people and, per episode #2, none of them know how to cook chicken (I think a 10 year old knows not to eat chicken that's pink).
The people also seem to be living pretty dang well. Sure, we are told they have been eating oatmeal - but they don't look like it. Plus, everyone seems clean and comfortable, the clothes seem nice etc, and is it me, or do they just seem not to be that scared? Ironically, while the Doc asks about the civies being able to sleep in beds, it's the "soldiers" who look grimy, while the normal folk look good.
My view: They are not "selling" the civilians to me, at all. Ditch the civilians and give us the Saving Private Ryan/The Patriot version of "Falling Skies."
The pilot centers on the rebels vs. a bunch of other rebels, rather than the aliens? The alarm bells were a-goin'-off!
Let's see, Pope is the only man who knows how to take out the aliens - and ever kill one (whooooah)? The group that is led by Noah Wyle's character has professional military experience and leadership, plus THEY CALL THE ALIENS "skitters" - and none of them think to shoot for the legs? I mean it has been 6 months.
This character is "joe cool" gone bad; knows how to handle himself in any given situation, knows how to handle the aliens - knows it all. He can take apart a carburetor blind folded and put it back together. He's the one who is gonna rise up, and end up leading with Noah Wyle when Captain Weaver bites it. Plus, he is the only one that does know how to cook chicken!
Nothing against, Colin Cunningham, the actor portraying Pope. He's doing a fine job making him come off as a SOB. It's just the writing is way too over the top.
Furthermore, in the pilot it was suggested Maggie was raped by his brother, yet they give her guns and allow her to watch the prisoners? Oh, and everyone is surprised when she "turns?" Huh?
My View: Lame and clichéd, tone it down or ship him off to the aliens.
I suppose some of the above could be excused because it has been 6 months. Maybe the aliens feel there are no more human threats and don't need to be in full military units. Maybe the humans are just so used to the alien presence that they are numb to them.
My View: Boring.
The audience is coming onboard after all the good stuff. No alien invasion with big bombs and cool battles. Basically, we are being told and not shown.
Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. We are only two episodes in, I do generally like the cast and feel the acting is decent - the story and writing just need to pick it up a few notches.
I think Noah Wyle as Tom Mason is the saving grace of "Falling Skies." He is doing an admirable job portraying the history professor forced to become a soldier. He is torn between saving his son, yet knows the consequences of putting the few in front of the many. Wyle does the transition from happy-go-lucky good looking guy (ala Dr. Carter) to rough and ragged patriot quite well. So far, I keep watching because of him.
However, I came into this thinking it was going to be war, not an afternoon soap opera (maybe, I'm wrong)! I haven't bailed completely on this just yet, so I'll be sticking around. TNT - let's clear things up so this doesn't go out as another "The Event" or even "V," please!
And don't even think of comparing this to AMC's The Walking Dead. Not even close.