Thursday, January 9, 2014

Falling Skies [TV Review]

I think this is only the third television show I've reviewed. The other two were a short BBC series first broadcast in the UK, and the other was a science fiction show that was cut short, and that I've still only seen one episode of. I'll try to do better.

See, that's cool sci-fi tech.
I must admit on the outset that I tried to watch Falling Skies when it first came out on TNT. The pilot episode was not very good, not very strong. It tried to do too much, and succeeded in doing very little. The pilot actually might stand out as the signle worst episode of the two series I've watched.

Yes, I've only seen seasons 1 & 2. I started them after season 3 was already underway. So my review is only going to cover what I've seen, obviously.
3.5 out of 5 stars

Yea! Mecha! I'm happy now.
There are a lot of characters in Falling Skies, perhaps too many. Never worry trusty viewer, a few will be eliminated in each season. That's a good thing, working down to a reasonable strong central cast. It takes several seasons because unlike older sci-fi which had the traditional 24-26 episodes a season, Falling Skies only gets 10.

For my enjoyment, more mecha.
That's a short schedule, and yet they pack in a good deal of story. The story is less an apocalyptic survival tale than I would have originally assumed, instead it is more a tale of community and family values. Yes, there is the survival issue, and some strong 'take back the planet' themes... but its more a tale of people coming together for a common goal.

He hides worse than Hobbits.
Now there are some tedious themes in it too. A little too much nationalism at times, but thankfully this seems to move to the background as the alien problem presses down harder. Yes, our main protagonist (played by Noah Wyle), is a history teacher so you expect history. What I was hoping for was that he was a world history teacher, and not just a US history teacher. He rarely, if ever, uses anything in history that is not somehow directly connected to US history. That can get very tedious. A late second season reveal (nope, not going to say what, just in case you are like me, and way behind) has me wondering how its going to play out. Am I going to approve of the reasoning behind what I expect to happen, or are they going to white wash it? We'll see, or at least I'll see.

The aliens (Skitter show here) are quite imaginative.
I do have some favorite characters, the two older boys Hal and Ben, as well as Maggie, the blonde with a sketchy tormented past. Them I like, the more the episodes center around them, the stronger the show seems. They seem to be the major motivators behind action. Sometimes they are not the proximal cause, but they are often at least the distal cause. By the end of the first season I had least learned the name of Noah Wyle's character, Tom, and the name of the military leader, Weaver. The sad part for me is that once again a show's most easily remembered character is the ass-hat. No one forgets who Pope is, he's the ass-hat. However after two seasons there are still some characters whose names I can't remember very well...

The aliens, now those are really cool. The skitters are six-legged low slung beasties. They do a bloody good job with their facial expressions too. I watched the extra's and they did a lot of work on those buggers, everything from the facial movements to the motion of the six legs, some very impressive puppetry. The mecha are fun, and as time goes on we discover new aliens. I'm not going to go into detail about them, spoilers and all. And of course there are humans as bad guys too... what science fiction is there that does not (accurately) portray humans as some of the worst most vile monsters.

I will continue to watch Falling Skies, I like it. But it has an added bonus. It is one of a few real hard sci-fi shows on now. Defiance is off until SyFy brings it back (I feel icky typing 'SyFy'). Revolution is less science fiction than it is stupid people doing stupid things, though I do need to catch up on that show. Gotta see who is going to engage in the next face-palm worthy act. It is like a train wreck, you know you shouldn't stare, but you just can't look away. 

And I promise to someday get back to watching Caprica so I can review it. 

Those skitters can really skedaddle.

No comments:

Post a Comment