Saturday, August 3, 2013

‘Falling Skies’ wraps up uneven third season Sunday

‘Falling Skies’ continues to confuse me.

I liked the first season. I loved the second season. Now the third season seems to be backsliding. Instead of a sophomore slump, the show went through a junior year slump.

It’s odd.

I’m a huge fan of alien invasion shows – I just wanted to get that out there.

One of my all-time favorites is the 1983 miniseries ‘V’ – and, of course, ‘The Final Battle’ follow-up a year and a half later.

To me, that is the epitome of alien invasion television (movies are a different story – and that doesn’t really pertain to this discussion).

A few years later, I fell in love with Kenneth Johnson’s ‘Alien Nation’ television show (which was based on the movie of the same name). Johnson was also responsible for creating ‘V’ – and the television show ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (which does nothing but add nerdiness to this topic).

Then it seemed like there was a big gap in quality alien invasion television. When ABC tried to reboot the ‘V’ franchise a few years ago, I was excited. Unfortunately, they took everything that was good about the original and discarded it and the show died a quick death.

When TNT announced they were about to debut an alien invasion show, I was a little worried. Don’t
get me wrong, I think TNT has put out some fine television, but the network couldn’t afford an alien invasion show nearly as much as a network could.

This had failure written all over it.

Imagine my surprise when I tuned into the show and immediately fell in love with it – star Noah Wylie included. ‘Falling Skies’ was everything the ‘V’ reboot should have been about.

At the core of ‘Falling Skies’ is the central message of family. Tom Mason (Wylie) is a father struggling to raise three boys in an alien apocalypse after the loss of his wife.

His oldest son, Hal (played by the pretty and petulant Drew Roy), has to be treated like an adult – even though he’s still technically a kid.

His middle son, Ben (played by the charismatic Connor Jessup) has been saved from the aliens – but the technology they “harnessed” him with has left him permanently altered.

His middle son, Matt is a child growing up in a world that has no room for children. He wants to be an adult – and yet he doesn’t have the ability for rational thought.

The ensemble is rounded out by Moon Bloodgood’s Ann – a doctor that Tom eventually falls in love with, marries and has a child with (more on that in a second).

The always awesome Will Patton plays military man Dan Weaver – a character that learns that sometimes following orders is less important than following your heart. He actually reminds me a lot of the Ham Tyler character on ‘V.’

There are three other characters of note. John Pope (Colin Cunningham) is pretty much a rogue who
finds himself allied with the good guys – although you can never tell what he’s going to do.

Maggie (Sarah Carter) starts out as a badass renegade that helps Tom Mason and turns on John Pope. She has a tortured history – and a lot of chemistry with Hal.

Finally, there’s Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) – a child of faith that struggles to find her place in this new world.

The first season of ‘Falling Skies’ was about acclimating to the new world. It had two sides fighting for control – with the military having to learn a hard lesson: The civilians may not be a lot of help, but they are the reason they’re fighting.

The second season delved into the science fiction aspects a little more. Tom Mason returned to the group with a “bug” inside of him that allowed the aliens to spy on his group. After that situation was settled, the survivors headed towards the hope of an actual settlement in Charleston.

When they got there, they found that there were survivors – but the new “government” seemed lost in bureaucracy and the mission to survive came second to their own ambitions.

When we started this third season, things were at a crossroads. Hal was now infected with a bug (which was eventually eradicated from him), Ben had the choice of having all of the alien technology removed from him (which would have taken away some of his abilities), Tom was now president (and struggling to give his family the time they needed) and Matt was in a world where he was no longer the baby (and not yet an adult).

In short order, Ann gave birth to Tom’s child – although it turned out to have alien DNA in it, the new aliens that had arrived on Earth to help were considered a possible threat, the new capital of the United States had at least one spy still running around and the military and government officials were still having growing pains.

Now, I understand that Moon Bloodgood’s real life pregnancy changed the storylines this season –
and I’m hoping that will all be corrected next season on the show. As it stands, though, the alien hybrid baby is a direct rip-off from ‘V’ (and not one of their better moments).

The new aliens coming in to help – but possibly being a threat to the very people they promised to aid – well, that’s ripped right from Kenneth Johnson’s ‘V: The Next Generation.’

I know there’s really nothing new in science fiction, but I can’t help but feel there’s a lot of retread going on with the third season of ‘Falling Skies.’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still invested in the Mason family. Next season, though, I’d like to see a little more family time and a little less boring political fights.

What do you think? Did you like this season of ‘Falling Skies’?


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