TNT takes a chance on a genre that failed for both ABC ("V") and NBC ("The Event") and climbs aboard the Alien Invasion bandwagon with the Steven Spielberg produced "Falling Skies," starring "E.R." alum Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood ("Day Break").
Starting six months after the initial invasion, "Falling Skies" is the story of a rag-tag band of resistance fighters and civilians in Massachusetts. Wyle is Professor Tom Mason, who specializes in military history. He and his sons Hal (Drew Roy) and Matt (Maxim Knight) have joined the resistance after losing Tom's wife and son Ben (Connor Jessup). Bloodgood is the group's medic, a pediatrician called on to perform duties for which she was never trained. Character actors Bruce Gray; Will Patton; Mpho Koaho and Dale Dye head up the supporting men, while Jessy Schram; Sarah Carter and Seychelle Gabriel provide for the damsels in distress who don't need rescuing.
The aliens (so far) fall into 2 categories: the six-limbed 'Skitters' and the robotic 'Mechs.' Using what the humans call 'harnesses,' the Skitters have enslaved the captured children (including Ben), using them to harvest scrap metal to build gigantic structures of unknown purpose.
I really want to like "Falling Skies." While hardly an original concept (see Battle: L.A. and Skyline, most recently), it has so far offered up some compelling, if cliched, characters doing their best to survive amidst the worst possible of circumstances. Of course, if you want a better written, acted and produced version of that story, I recommend AMC's far superior "The Walking Dead," which has zombies in place of the aliens. And speaking of aliens, the thing "Falling Skies" fails most at is the monsters. The Skitters are simply smaller versions of the alien in Super 8 and the Mechs look like they were ripped off from Star Wars. And I won't even get into the scene previewed in next week's episode which is right out of Roland Emmerich's Independence Day.
While "Falling Skies" is (mostly) well-acted, its marginal production values and unoriginal concepts (Invaders from Mars; The Puppetmasters; ID4) keep it from being the series it should be, especially given its Spielbergian pedigree. I'll keep watching (mostly because summer TV offers few original alternatives) and hoping it gets better. But unless it improves greatly over the next few episodes, I have little hope that "Falling Skies" will last beyond a single season. *1/2 (One and a Half Stars Out of Four).