TV Review: Falling Skies

Well it has action, it has aliens, and it has mankind defending itself from invasion by a mysterious, ruthless enemy which enslaves their children. Why am I not more excited? Because this looked like a rip off of so many things that came before.

First, you have vigilantes fighting it out against aliens. Where have I seen that? “V” and “War Of The Worlds” and, well, even “Battle: Los Angeles” have resemblances.

Second, the aliens use robots? Where have I seen that? “War Of The Worlds.” The aliens are bugs? “Starship Troopers.”

Okay, so these are tropes and they’d be fine except for one thing. The characters aren’t well developed. Okay, to be fair, TV series take a while to develop their characters. So maybe that’s in the works. But Will Patton’s human army leader is just an ass. Nothing likeable about him at all. Not a single redeeming quality in how he acts or treats everyone around him with contempt. Noah Wyle’s lead fares better, but even he seemed overwhelmed and dominated by circumstances and people rather than being the take charge get it done hero we’d expect and want to see.

Now to be fair, I watched this right after the closing of HBO’s monumental, phenomenal specific “Game Of Thrones,” which turns every trope on its head, is very original, very well acted, well produced, etc. So I had high expectations. But I want more Science Fiction on TV. I want shows that last longer than one or two seasons. Still, I see networks time and again going back to the same well and thinking they can repeat success by doing so. Give us something we haven’t seen before. No, it’s not enough the alien attack is six months old. So we missed that part and you saved on your budget issues? So what? Really. Give me something I haven’t seen really–some kind of unique alien, unique alien motive, weapons, something. What if this was an alien attack on a world we had almost destroyed environmentally? Much further along than our current state? I’m just throwing that out there but surely there’s something new they could have done here.

The special effects are fine. The production values fine. Is it watchable? Until something else comes along, yes. Up against “True Blood,” unless “True Blood” really drops off in quality, no, “True Blood” will win. Ultimately it’s better than most of the made for TV mess SyFy tries to pass off as quality progamming. But coming from the guy who made war movies fun again with “Saving Private Ryan,” we have a right to expect a lot more. Richard Rodat and his team failed to deliver. I want this to succeed, don’t get me wrong. I want this to rake in the ratings. I want it to encourage more SF programming being developed. I just don’ t think the pilot was impressive, and only if they kick it into gear and surprise us, making it better, do I think it will survive the fate of so many similar series. I won’t stop watching. I won’t stop rooting for it. But I will continue to long for what might be.