June 28, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Falling Skies”



FALLING SKIES had a premise that seemed like it should be able to run indefinitely:  a war against alien invaders fought mostly on the ground, as an allegory of the US Revolutionary War, with its main hero Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) a historical scholar, family man (it’s a Steven Spielberg production) and increasingly powerful leader.  The show was never very good at sustaining itself, though, and in just 4 seasons it bounced back and forth between a number of tones and approaches, embracing everything from politics to eyeworms and the aliens making telepathic slaves of young earthlings, to last season’s wrongheaded use of World War II imagery and the introduction of a part-alien magic child as catalyst.  The ratings sank, and this 5th season has been announced as its last.

If there’s a vision in place for this final run of episodes, it wasn’t clear in tonight’s season premiere, written by showrunner David Eick and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.  The action picked up 2 days after the Season 4 finale, which had left Tom and his part-alien daughter Lexie (Scarlett Byrne) off on a mission to the moon, there to cut the main power supply of the evil Espheni.  When we rejoined Tom, Lexi had sacrificed herself for the good of the mission, and Tom was in the grip of some kind of dream/memory/vision involving his late first wife, which left him mysteriously safe on Earth, apparently none the worse for wear, although there are hints that “apparently” is the key word there.

Apart from that, the episode was one battle after another, as the humans tried to wipe out the remaining Espheni, now at a loss without their power lines.  Despite Osunsanmi’s use of a bare minimum of light in some of these sequences, there wasn’t a lot of tension, and although the hour featured plenty of CG, it was far from feature-film caliber.  The only other storyline of any note was the continuing romantic triangle between freedom fighter Maggie (Sarah Carter) and two of Tom’s three sons:  Maggie’s longtime beau Hal (Drew Roy), and Hal’s younger brother Ben (C0nnor Jessup), with whom Maggie has an alien-link connection that she can’t entirely deny.  This plot has never had much in the way of firepower, since neither son is a particularly well-shaded character.

It feels like Falling Skies is getting out while the getting is good.  Although Wyle is a solid lead, with some good actors in support (Moon Bloodgood as Tom’s 2d wife, Will Patton as the weathered head of the militia), and there have been some effective sequence and runs of episodes along the way, the series has been moving in the wrong direction, feeling more like drudgery than a compelling journey.  With luck, the remaining 9 episodes will gather a decent head of steam, and the show will exit on a high note, before the Nielsen Espheni–the scariest kind–show up in earnest at its door.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."