The Return Of Falling Skies

You can argue about what period was the Golden Age of Television — depending upon your age, you might argue that just about any decade since the 1950s should take that honor — but one undeniably great thing about modern TV is that new shows begin at all times of the year.  It’s not like the old days, when we were wedded to fall premiere week and the summer was a vast wasteland of reruns.

Tonight Falling Skies begins its second season.  The timing is great because Game of Thrones is over for the year and we need something to watch during the 9 p.m. Sunday time slot.  Falling Skies isn’t in the same ballpark as Game of Thrones (what is?) but last year it was an entertaining ride.

For those who didn’t catch the show last year, aliens have invaded and a small band of humans is desperately fighting back.  They are led by uber-heroic Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), the gruff Captain Weaver, who is wrestling with some serious inner demons, and outlaw John Pope — my favorite character, well played by Colin Cunningham — who isn’t above theft and other criminal acts, is a surprisingly good cook, and also is a deft hand at killing the aliens.  Tom Mason has an older son who is helping to fight the alien invaders, a middle son who was “harnessed” by the aliens and is still dealing with that experience, and a young son to whom Tom is trying to give a somewhat normal childhood, which isn’t easy under the circumstances.  Tom, who lost his wife in the invasion, also is dealing with a budding romance with Dr. Glass.

Last season ended with Tom deciding to go with the aliens into their ship (implausibly, in my view, yet heroically, because that’s just the way Tom is).  We’ll see if he comes out with a harness of his own, and we’ll also be watching for Pope’s latest brainstorm and his inevitable confrontations with Captain Weaver and other authority figures.  It’s time to kick some alien butt!

Falling Skies

With the end of the excellent first season of Game of Thrones, Kish and I have been looking for a new TV series to follow.  Our rules for selection among the many different “summer shows” were simple:  no medical examiner or police shows, no reality shows, and no silly shows about wacky lawyers who win a trial a week through their courtroom stunts.

We settled on TNT’s Falling Skies almost by default, and it is intriguing enough to keep watching.  The show is the story of a hardy band of human resistance fighters in Massachusetts.  They are dealing with the aftermath of a devastating alien invasion which saw the regular armed forces wiped out and countless humans massacred.  The aliens, nicknamed “skitters,” also have enslaved many children through the use of a harness device that attaches to the spinal cord and allows the aliens to communicate with them.  The skitters now are trying to hunt down the remaining humans with the help of mobile fighting devices called “mechs,” while the humans try to regroup in irregular groups of fighters and civilians and figure out how to fight back.

Noah Wyle has the lead as Tom Mason, a former military history professor who is the second-in-command of the Second Mass resistance fighters.  Mason’s wife has been killed, his oldest son also is a fighter, his youngest son is trying to have a normal childhood amidst the devastation, and his middle son, Ben, is one of the harnessed children.  The Second Mass is led by grizzled Captain Weaver, played by Will Patton, and also features kind pediatrician Anne Glass, played by Moon Bloodgood, a jack-of-all-trades schoolteacher, a cowardly surgeon, and and assortment of rugged fighters and children who are having to grow up too quickly.

Although some of developments have been predictable, the show has some surprises.  Our favorite character so far is John Pope, who is very well played by Colin Cunningham.  Pope is the bearded, long-haired, street smart but unscrupulous captured leader of a band of renegades who has figured out a lot about the skitters — including how to kill them — and can cook a darned good meal besides.  Another interesting character is Lourdes, played by Seychelle Gabriel.  Lourdes is unapologetic about her religious faith, even after the invasion has caused many survivors to give up on religion.  It is unusual to see such a frank and positive portrayal of a religious person on network TV.

We’ll keep watching.