Falling Skies Finale Fizzle

Falling Skies, the TNT summer science-fiction (vaguely and loosely associated with that genre) summer series concluded it’s first ‘season’ last night and delivered hype, hype and more hype, together with more questions than answers.  I restrained myself from reviewing any of the individual episodes in the series for the last few weeks, mostly in an effort to avoid spoilers, but also because I hoped for some movement in the plot and some growth from the main characters.  I would say all of the characters grew, changed and learned from their experiences, but at a more gradual rate than I had hoped.

If humanity is on the brink of extinction, would we truly throw away the few lives left on a futile attack on supremely superior alien invaders who had already effortlessly wiped out billions of us?  I guess if you’re a military gung-ho sort of guy, the obvious answer is “Yes!” or more likely “Sir! Yes, Sir!”  At least the science bits, where the surviving civilians learn how the ‘skitters’ communicate, how to interfere in that communication, and begin to ascertain the origins of skitters, provided the most satisfactory story elements.

The boundaries of my belief stretched to near breaking when confronted with the sub-par special effects and off-screen encounters between our surviving military and the alien invaders.  While that helps the ‘bottom-line’ and saves money in production, as a viewer I feel cheated.  Case in point: the attack on the school (where the 2nd Mass volunteers, those not involved in throwing away their lives by attacking the local alien entrenched HQ, and civilians) by seven (yes, only seven) mechs underwhelmed. Nor was I convinced of the human victory (insert overly melodramatic human ingenuity here) that drove the mechs to retreat.

And to leave me, after ten hours (well, more like 420 minutes) of stringing me along, without answers, for at least another ten months, frustrates and angers me.   I don’t expect happy endings, especially in the dystopian SF subgenre, but I do expect some respect for my intelligence.

I can’t wait for Doctor Who to commence again.

Review: Falling Skies Pilot (Summer 2011 SciFi Series on TNT)

Falling Skies (Summer 2011 on TNT)

My husband and I watched th3 much anticipated (translated: hyped) summer science fiction series premiere of Falling Skies last night via TNT.  I must have missed something the first time around, because I did not pick up from the story (what was actually aired, not what was hyped in the pre-premiere ads) what happened to the Earth.  Yes, some information was revealed through observation, like the lack of any electronics as a result of the alien EMP bombardment.

A discussion I’m following at the GoodReads Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club likened this story to a cross between H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds and Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon.  I’ve read both of those books, but I’ve only posted a review on Alas, Babylon (click here to read my review).  From what I can tell from the first two hours, there is some similarity to Frank’s vision, but so far not much to Wells (at least the aliens haven’t exhibited a penchant for succumbing to an Earth virus or bacteria).

I learned this morning, when I read the discussion thread mentioned above that the alien invasion occurred six months prior to what I watched in the first two episodes.  That the aliens wiped out 90 percent of the human population and for some unknown reason needs to enslave the younger members  of the remaining humans (but nukes or otherwise disposes of older ones).  Basically, what’s left of humanity is in survival mode, on the run and severely out-gunned.

Most of the writing was predictable and the acting mediocre (and I expected a better performance from Noah Wyle).  The special effects adequately portrayed the aliens and their technology, but failed to wow me.  I enjoyed seeing Dale Dye in a cameo-like appearance in the first few minutes of the first episode and I loved Colin Cunningham‘s portrayal of a post apocalyptic leader of rogue criminal gang (although with a complete breakdown of civilization, what defines a ‘criminal’ except the memory of peace and freedom held by the survivors).   Quite a change in roles for Colin, from his days as an Air Force officer in the Stargate program.

I’d rate these two episodes three stars and I do plan to continue watching the series.  I will hold out hope for better acting and writing, since the prospects for either in the science fiction genre is slim at best.  I’ll take what I can get to wile away the summer.