Everywhere you look, dystopia stories abound. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games became the movie event of the spring while the most talking about new NBC series is J.J. Abrams’ Revolution. Little surprise then that basic cable’s ratings darling in 2011 was TNT’s Falling Skies. With the show’s second season debuting June 17, the first season has been released on DVD from Warner Home Entertainment. The premise is not necessarily an original one: aliens have arrived and have largely conquered Earth while small bands of resistance fighters struggle to free humanity. What the aliens want remains a mystery.
The series, which has been in development since 2009, was conceived by Bob Rodat, writer of Saving Private Ryan, and has been produced by Steven Spielberg, who enhanced many of Rodat’s notions. The showrunner for season one is my old pal Mark Verheiden (who handled a different dystopia on Battlestar Galactica), who brought his own point of view to the project. Verheiden’s sure hand made the ten episode first season quite entertaining and he’ll be missed when he moves to consulting producer (at least he wrote the two hour season opener for a smooth transition).
A history professor turned soldier, Tom Mason, is the series’ protagonist and is well played by Noah Wylie, mixing his knowledge with some grit while putting his two sons ahead of all else. He is part of a regiment, the Second Massachusetts (near Concord, get it?), periodically receiving intelligence from nearby groups and sporadically getting news from armed forces elsewhere in America. The enemy, known as “Skitters”, are insectoid and reside in mammoth craft looming over key cities around the world. Using mechanical soldiers dubbed “mechs”, they maintain martial law and kill adults who oppose them, taking the children. (more…)