Falling Skies: The Best Show of the Summer
By Bert Ehrmann
June 1, 2012
Movies about the end of civilization have been in vogue since at least the late 1990s. There have been movies about doom coming from the skies like with Deep Impact and Armageddon, viruses ravaging mankind like I Am Legend and Contagion but it seems like the most popular of the apocalyptic movies have been about alien invasions like The War of the Worlds and Independence Day. And while films like these can do a great job of depicting events leading up to the end of things, the limited scope of movies means that they tend to focus on the spectacle of things going "bang" during the apocalypse rather than having the time to deal with any in-depth story of what comes after.
While movies might not be good at in-depth stories TV series are, and one of my favorite of these is the post-apocalyptic series is Falling Skies on TNT.
Falling Skies takes place many months after aliens, dubbed alternatively "Skitters" and "Cooties" because of their bug-like appearance and how they walk, have invaded the Earth, have easily defeated the military and killed most of the adult population of the planet in the process. But while the Skitters kill adults, they have other plans for the children. They capture kids and turn them into mindless worker-zombies for the aliens via an organic "harness" attached to each kids' back.
It's a bleak existence for those left alive who are forced to alternatively scrounge for food and supplies and avoid Skitter patrols. And while some have begun forming up into ad hoc military units like the 2nd Mass(achusetts) in Falling Skies, any resistance to the aliens is met with swift and terrible retribution.
The remnants, including teacher and father turned soldier Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), retired soldier turned contractor now military leader Captain Weaver (Will Patton) and pediatrician turned all-around doctor Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) have a terrible decision to make. They can run and hide from the Skitters and risk the eventual extinction of humanity if the aliens ever decide to finish what they've started or they can fight back agains them and risk loosing whatever they've managed to hang onto after the invasion including the un-harnessed kids.
In a way, Falling Skies is a sort of anti-The Walking Dead. Both Falling Skies and Dead are about life after the apocalypse, but each approaches this theme in a very different manner. In Dead, humanity is at war with the living dead as well as with each other. In fact, in both the Dead comic book and TV series warring with other living groups of survivors has almost taken as big a toll on humanity as the walking dead have.
While Dead might be about things like society and civilization falling apart in the face of catastrophe, like what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, then Falling Skies is about society pulling together after a tragedy and fighting back like in the weeks and months after 9/11.
With Falling Skies, humanity absolutely cannot win a military victory against the alien invaders. The aliens are too many, we are too few, their weapons are too strong and ours too weak. However, humanity can win if we are enough of a nuisance to the invaders, that we "bloody their nose" enough times and cause their plan, whatever it is, enough disruptions that they give up and go to some other place and abandon the planet to us in frustration.
Honestly, Falling Skies is one of the most intense shows on cable I've seen in quite some time. It's a series with a lot of heart that doesn't pull many punches, which is surprising for a series on a channel like TNT that up until now has been known for lite-shows like The Closer and Franklin & Bash.
The second season of Falling Skies starts Sunday, June 17 on TNT. The first season of the series is available as digital download and will soon be available on DVD and Blu-ray. Be sure to visit the TNT website to view a Falling Skies online comic series from last year and a new series that covers what happens between the first and second season of the show.