Falling Skies has pedigree; Steven Spielberg co-produces, series creator Robert Rodat wrote Saving Private Ryan and Justified and creator Graham Yost is also on board. Plus it’s set six months after an alien invasion has wiped out millions so there’s plenty of opportunity for post-apocalyptic ennui. Finally, it had a killer promo poster of a giant suspended alien ship on the horizon, all dangly bits and metal menace. If you’re waiting for the ‘but’ you’ve come to the right place because, despite all these credentials, Falling Skies isn’t that great.
Cleverly, the show sidesteps the messy (and expensive) alien warfare storyline and cuts straight to the occupation plot where our space overlords are well into their colonisation efforts. No explanations are given as to why the invasion happened but characters speculate motives as they mount rolling insurrections and attempt to rescue hundreds of children that have been kidnapped and fitted with strange vertebrae devices that make them mindless worker drones for the aliens. There’s plenty to work with but it fails to fire.
This isn’t an action show so don’t expect big budget battles and the flashes of excitement are short-lived, looking cheap and underfunded. The whole gritty realism of a ragtag bunch of survivors was perfected by Battlestar Galactica and this simply doesn’t stack up. In the absence of dazzling set pieces, Falling Skies becomes a character-driven show about resilience and rebuilding. Problem is, the dialogue is universally B-grade, the actors often appear like they’re acting in completely different TV shows (one scene The A-Team, the next Dr Quinn Medicine Woman) and the ruminations on philosophy meant to provide depth only highlight how much better the show needs to get. Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood and Steven Webber try valiantly to lift Falling Skies to another level, but they fail.