In the past month there has been a virtual onslaught of publicity to promote TNT’s new alien-invasion series FALLING SKIES. There are billboards, bus ads, posters and a multitude of print and online advertising. For the most part, it is both extremely effective – yet it is also somewhat misleading.
It is effective because when it premieres everyone looking to see aliens will be tuning in to check out the show. However, the misleading part is that those same viewers will be looking for a kick-ass action show. Unfortunately, FALLING SKIES is not that show. It does not start with a bang and it does not offer high-octane action sequences. It offers instead, brief moments of action – such as when the aliens have cornered the survivors as they scavenge.
Viewers should be better prepared for what FALLING SKIES actually is. It is a tale of defeat and desperation. It is the after-math. We lost the war for our planet — and the survivors are refugees skulking in the darkness trying to avoid attention and desperate for food, water and shelter.
FALLING SKIES is about survival. It is about hiding, foraging and the futility of life as the losing side of the war. Earth is now occupied by the aliens and they do not want us here.
As seen through the lens of a father with three boys, it is also a tale of family – the lengths one man will go to in order to protect his children. But unlike most action films or series, our hero in this story is a history professor. He has no training in weaponry and he is astute enough to realize that striking back, when we are so vastly outnumbered, is ludicrous. He just wants to keep his children safe and to help as he can to protect a small group of civilians ill-equipped to protect or provide for themselves. Yet interestingly he also finds the key to fighting the aliens when most weaponry seems ineffective.
FALLING SKIES is a slow-burn series. It introduces its characters, shows us their bleak and miserable existence, and slowly draws us into their hopeless plight. For viewers curious enough, the long arduous journey for these people barely able to survive will introduce a tale of survival in the midst of the most impossible circumstances. Hiding and surviving is not sexy or adventurous – and it will feel a bit scary, because to be hunted on our own planet without any means of fighting back and no one coming to our rescue – that is our worst nightmare.
Adding to that terror is the realization that the aliens want our children. It is not known why, but the aliens are intent on capturing any and all children so that they can use them as slave labor. Using a hideous insect device that attaches to their spines, the children become mindless zombies.
So in classic storytelling fashion, FALLING SKIES sets up a world that seems simple and uncheerworthy. Yet, even in this bleak world, the human spirit refuses to give in to defeat. Rather than raise the white flag, surrender and die, these humans will do whatever it takes to simply survive. It is that spark of humanity and resilience that reminds us that these are humans – even untrained and ill-prepared – and we hope to see them make it through each day.
To watch how at a disadvantage they are and how small a group that has survived, it gives one the sense of desolation and desperation. Yet that is the story of FALLING SKIES. Earth is not being invaded – it has been occupied. It has not been ours for over 8 months and there is little left to give anyone hope.
The comforts of the society we are accustomed to are gone – there is no electricity, no running water, no grocery stores, no gas stations, no cars, no communication, no internet.
Based on all this, you are probably asking: then, why should I watch this show? Here is why: it will grasp a hold of your heart and refuse to let go. It takes us into a world where we could easily be any one of the survivors and it will make you curious about how they survive, even when they do not have hope and they have so little. There is something innately compelling about the resilience of the human spirit after we are beaten down and defeated. We may be thieves, slaves, or the unwanted, but our spark of determination to not give up is what makes us human. We never give up.
Then there is the added fact that, even with a common enemy, we still turn on each other. The unpredictability of humans is what makes us so entertaining. Humans do not act altruistically, rationally, or even methodically. Humans are greedy, fearful and will do the darndest things just because they can. That unexpectedness makes human beings unique – that they do not always act for the common good or even in their own best interest.
So FALLING SKIES takes all of these elements: a father and his children, a small group of desperate survivors, the unpredictability factor, and shows us what life would be like if we lived in an occupied planet – and it slowly becomes captivating. We begin to wonder: how in the world these people could possibly survive with all their bickering, in-fighting and lack of survival instincts? You will also wonder: why do the aliens want the children and only the children? And finally, it will draw you in because the characters in the show become like family. You will care about them and want to root for them. They are the underdog and we hope against hope that they find a way to make it. We want the father to find his missing son. We want to rescue the abducted children. And we want to see if it is possible to carve out a niche to exist in a world overrun by creatures that they cannot communicate with and which will kill them on sight.
FALLING SKIES offers a dark and deliberately paced story of survival. It will introduce you to characters that will slowly capture your heart as you get to know them. Their hopes and dreams, as well as their struggle to retain their humanity in the midst of uncertainty will present a dilemma that will tease your brain.
Curiosity and attachment. You will wonder and you will care – that is why you will watch. And after a handful of episodes, you will be completely hooked.
To read more about FALLING SKIES, be sure to check out my interviews with Noah Wylie, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy and Mark Verheiden HERE.
FALLING SKIES premieres Sunday, June 19th at 9:00PM and then continues to air over the summer Sundays at 10:00PM on TNT.
Tiffany Vogt blogs at The TV Addict.
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