Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pilot Review: Falling Skies

Falling Skies (TNT)
Premiered July 19 at 9pm

This long-in-development sci-fi series finally makes its premiere on TNT, and expectations are certainly set high. The good news is that, some slow-paced and obvious bantering aside, this show is pretty good. It’s almost as ambitious as FOX’s forthcoming “Terra Nova,” and an expense that a network needs to make up for with positive ratings and enough return in viewership. Fortunately, Steven Spielberg is fronting both shows, which means that they have a better chance than most from the outset. “Falling Skies” is typical Spielberg territory, reminiscent in many ways of his take on “War of the Worlds,” setting his post-apocalyptic adventures in broad daylight and then finessing them with rather fearsome night terrors as the aliens come out to play. At times, it’s incredibly exciting, and the action moments are never a letdown. The original score by Noah Sorota helps considerably with that, and each fade to commercial is enhanced by the thrilling music. I particularly enjoy the frequent Boston references, with trips to West Newton and along the Commuter Rail line, and I like how Tom works in the Red Sox beating the Yankees to his diatribe about revolutions. Pain being gauged on a scale from “bad” to “wicked bad” is also quite entertaining. Noah Wyle seems an able lead, and he’s playing the character who’s supposed to be the main protagonist in this kind of fare. Moon Bloodgood is at her best as a hard-headed and determined nurse, and having Will Patton in command reminds me of “The Postman,” but not in a bad way. This show is like “Jericho” meets “The Walking Dead,” and that’s a fantastic combination. I’m in.

How will it work as a series? This double-decker of a pilot is probably considerably more heavy-handed than the rest of the episodes, partially because it establishes the leadership dynamic and also has to deal with the other human forces working against the regiments. I’d expect more alliances, more conflicts, and more aliens in the coming episodes, which should certainly be action-packed, very similar, I’d presume, to “The Walking Dead” in the balance of drama and fearful interaction with the other.
How long will it last? The ratings were great, as the premiere was trumpeted the #1 cable series launch of the year, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. An early second season pickup would be good news, since that would seem to prevent a potential cancellation due to overexpense (a fate suffered after only two seasons by “Rome”). For the moment, I’d give it an edge to survive, with a second season renewal coming sometime soon.

Pilot grade: B+


Greg Boyd said...

Very much liked this. First two episodes were perhaps a little too broad and featured some campy dialogue, but it's definitely got potential.

Movies with Abe said...

Both fair critiques. I think that it could be really awesome.