“Six months ago, according to TNT’s new sci-fi would-be epic “Falling Skies”, aliens invaded America and turned ER’s pensive Dr. John Carter into a gun-slinging history professor, Tom Mason, star of the show. Noah Wylie’s transformation from network doctor to cable action-hero comes complete with scruffy beard and a scratchy voice that occasionally recalls the young Clint Eastwood. It takes a couple of hours, or roughly the length of the premiere, to get used to this new version of Wylie, but he pulled it off. ”
Entertainment Weekly began its review by addressing Noah Wyle’s ability to carry the lead role of TNT’s new series. Producer Steven Spielberg delivers a new spin on “V” or “Battle: Los Angeles” and EW offers praise with minimal caution.
The metaphor of invading forces enslaving and mass-killing humans the invaders consider their inferiors operates on a more overt level as well when, in the next episode, Tom will explicitly compare them to Nazis. I’m not sure how far Falling Skies wants to go down that road, although based on the four hours I’ve watched, the military strategy sessions would not be out of place in a WWII film as directed by Howard Hawks, with lots of eye-level shots of men taking the measure of each other under the stress of battle.
The band of characters and introductions never stalled the pace of the initial episode in my opinion. EW offered extra attention to one character:
So far, its most interesting character is the anarchic leader of a band of marauders, John Pope (Collin Cunningham), who was taken prisoner by Tom and Weaver, and who will prove his value as a cook. Pope, and Cunningham’s sardonic performance, provide Falling Skies with some much-needed flashes of sharp humor — every war story needs an unpredictable man with few scruples to throw everyone else’s morals (or lack of them) into high relief. Ultimately, though, Falling Skies rises above any one performance; it’s the spectacle of humans versus aliens that draws you in. Call it old-fashioned, but sometimes, old-fashioned works.