TV series review: Falling Skies: Series 1 (2011)
The Earth has been invaded by aliens – aliens who do not come in peace. Within a few days most of humanity has been wiped out, and children between the ages of 8 and 16 are taken as slaves, their minds controlled by a sort of external spine implant.
The rest of humanity is left to pick up the pieces, just trying to survive … and to try to gain an advantage against the invaders.
One of the parents having lost a child is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a history professor, who has two other kids to look after – Hal (Drew Roy) and Matt (Maxim Knight). Hal wants to fight back, and little Matt doesn’t want to be left out either.
Together with their father and the rest of the civilians of a group they call the 2nd Massachusetts, they’re trying to get away from Boston, while hoping to one day reunite with Ben (Connor Jessup) again, organise a resistance movement and take down the aliens … and not turn on each other.
Also starring Moon Bloodgood (epic name!), Jessy Schram, Seychelle Gabriel, Peter Shinkoda, Mpho Koaho, Sarah Carter, Colin Cunningham, Will Patton; featuring Steven Weber and Henry Czerny.
We enjoyed this show a lot. Some friends of ours, who are more clued up about military organisation, found they couldn’t enjoy it as much because there’s no way a military operation would be run like that. But for lay people who couldn’t really care less, it’s a great show.
You soon realise what those extra spines (“harnesses”) do to kids, and what’s happening and why, but it’s still interesting to follow, no two ways about it. How would humanity cope with an alien invasion? Not terribly well. The fighting back thing, though? I’m all for that.
My biggest criticism of Falling Skies that it suffers from Stupid Child syndrome AND Annoying Child syndrome, at the same time. If those two things aren’t tropes, they should be. You know these types of kid, you’ve seen them many times before. (Remember Walt in Lost? At times, I wished the bloody polar bear would eat him and get it over with.)
The Stupid Child is a child that will run off willy-nilly and get everyone in danger, not just themselves, and it gets worse because then the grown-ups have to run after them and get them out of harm’s way. In this show, he’s called “Matt”. The Annoying Child is similar, although perhaps deliberately putting everyone in danger because they feel like it, and they get in a huff when people risk their lives trying to save them. I believe he’s called “Rick” in this one.
Ah, well. There are aliens who are evil, maybe, and humans that definitely are. Alien invasions sure bring out the best in people. But that’s part of what makes the show work. It’s not just sitting around singing Kumba Ya and hoping things will work out for the better because we’re working together, but there are human bad guys too, and it’s a toss-up if the humans or the aliens are the most dangerous …
On a good note – the show has been renewed for a second series, which I’m looking forward to, although I don’t know when it’s out, but it’ll be some time this year.
4 out of 5 hideouts.