by Del Harvey
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This summer, TNT goes all out with the brilliant new sci-fi/post-alien invasion series, Falling Skies. Falling Skies launches with a two-hour premiere on Sunday, June 19 at 9.pm. and will air regularly on Sundays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT). It should garner the same attention that The Walking Dead has for AMC, and for many of the same reasons. It is also better than many of the more recent series appearing on the SyFy Channel primarily because of the amount of talent and effort put into the scripts and production. It should draw a sizable audience because it will be one of the most entertaining shows of the summer.
Falling Skies opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few remaining survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force, whose nature and purpose remains a mystery.
At the center of Falling Skies is Tom Mason (Wyle), a Boston history professor whose family has been torn apart. His wife was killed shortly after the initial attack, and one of his three sons has been taken captive by the aliens for some unknown purpose. Tom must now put his extensive knowledge of military history to the test as second in command (to Will Patton’s hard-edged leader) of the 2nd Massachusetts, a regiment of resistance fighters protecting a large group of civilian survivors. They are constantly trying to gain intelligence about the aliens in order to one day outsmart and overtake them and hopefully rebuild their lives.
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) also stars as Anne Glass, a pediatrician who works with the surviving children to help them cope with the traumatic upheaval in their lives. Will Patton (Armageddon, TNT’s Into the West) plays Weaver, a fierce military leader of the resistance and Tom’s commanding officer.
Falling Skies also stars Drew Roy (Secretariat) as Hal, Tom’s oldest son and a growing fighter in the resistance movement; Maxim Knight (Brothers & Sisters) as Matt, Tom’s youngest son; Connor Jessup (The Saddle Club) as Ben, Tom’s son who was captured by aliens; and Seychelle Gabriel (Weeds) as Lourdes, an orphaned teenager who helps Anne in the group’s makeshift medical clinic. Mpho Koaho (Rookie Blue) and Peter Shinkoda (The L Word) play Anthony and Dai, two resistance fighters in the 2nd Mass.; Colin Cunningham (Living in Your Car) is John Pope, the head of a gang of marauders; and Sarah Sanguin Carter (Shark) is Margaret, a wary survivor from Pope’s gang.
Falling Skies is a tale of endurance, commitment and courage in which everyday people are called upon to become heroes. The series focuses on the resilience of the survivors and their determination to maintain their humanity when all else has been destroyed. It also explores the ties that bind people together in the most difficult of circumstances, as well as the potential for humans to turn on each other when the struggle to survive threatens to give way to desperation. Through it all, there are moments of joy and happiness, including birthdays, births, humor, romance and friendship. The survivors may be outmatched, outnumbered and outgunned, but nothing can beat the human spirit.
“One of the most intriguing aspects of Falling Skies is that the invasion itself has already occurred as we catch up with the human resistance,” said co-executive producer and writer Mark Verheiden. “Six months in, shock has turned to resolve as the survivors gather to form a plan of attack. The mystery of the alien plan gradually becomes clearer over the course of the season, but not in a way the human resistance could have predicted.”
The aliens in Falling Skies are as mysterious as they are merciless. They are highly intelligent and use military-like tactics, which makes them an overwhelming force against the 2nd Mass. They are fast, strong, extremely intelligent and very difficult to kill. The survivors have encountered two types of aliens in the invading force: “skitters,” so named for the way they move about on spider-like legs, and “mechs,” heavily armed robot-like bi-peds.
Falling Skies is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, Graham Yost (Justified, The Pacific) and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat earned an Oscar® nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, and he wrote the pilot from an idea co-conceived with Spielberg. Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) and Greg Beeman (Heroes, Smallville), who are also co-executive producers.
The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time).
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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