"Falling Skies" Review: City on Fire
My favorite film and literary genre is post-apocalyptic science fiction… Alas Babylon, The Day of the Triffids, The Postman, The Road … a long list to which we now may add Falling Skies, the much-heralded television series produced by Steven Spielberg that premiered this Monday with a two-hour pilot episode on TNT.
Six months after an alien invasion has wiped out all of Earth’s major cities, all its armies and a sizable chunk of its civilian population (90%, according to one character’s calculations), the survivors have organized themselves into rag-tag resistance cells to fight the occupying army of what they call “skitters,” six-legged man-size beasties – fast, agile, intelligent and harder to kill than a deer tick. But they can be killed if you get in close.
Falling Skies takes place in Massachusetts, where a giant mothership sits astride the ruins of Boston on landing gear thousands of feet tall. Heat-seeking fighter craft and sound-seeking robots called “mechs” – as in, “mechanicals” – emanate from the mothership in an endless tide of death and destruction. Most disturbingly, the skitters attach their larvae – referred to as “harnesses” – to the backs of children. We see one herd of harnessed children being led away, glassy-eyed, by several mechs, probably to a hatchery inside the mothership.
Judging from recent works by Spielberg and pals, particularly Cloverfield producer and Super 8 director J.J. Abrams, our planet is due for a major infestation of space-faring spiders. Not reptilians, not tall whites, not the grays so commonly reported by alien abductees to the Macks and Montaldos of the world … but spiders.
(And I’m going to mention here that Spielberg executive produced Arachnaphobia in 1990, and the name “Spielberg” have five letters in common, in order, with the word “spider.” Just sayin’.)
The cast of Falling Skies is headlined by ER veteran Noah Wylie, who in this series plays Tom Mason, formerly a professor of military history, now a leader of the resistance. Mason’s wife is dead, a victim of the invasion, so he carries on as the single father of three sons, one of whom has been harnessed and is missing. His eldest son, Hal, is played by Hannah Montana heart throb Drew Roy who, together with Wylie form the contingent of male love interests which I predict soon will be rounded out by Colin Cunningham as skitter-whacking bad boy John Pope.Continued on the next page