FALLING SKIES opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force.
At the center of the series is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a Boston history professor whose family has been torn apart. His wife was killed in the initial attack, and one of his three sons has been captured. Determined to get his son back and to ensure the safety of his other two sons, Tom must put his extensive knowledge of military history to the test as one of the leaders of the resistance movement known as the 2nd Mass, because of their location in Boston, Mass. They are constantly trying to gain intelligence about the aliens in order to one day outsmart and overtake them and hopefully rebuild their lives.
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) co-stars as Anne Glass, a pediatrician who works with the surviving children to help them cope with the traumatic upheaval in their lives. Will Patton (Armageddon, TNT’s Into the West) plays a fierce leader of the resistance, Weaver. The series also stars Drew Roy (Secretariat) as Hal, Tom’s oldest son and a growing fighter in the resistance movement; Maxim Knight (Brothers & Sisters) as Matt, Tom’s youngest son; Connor Jessup (The Saddle Club) as Ben, Tom’s son who was captured by aliens; and Seychelle Gabriel (Weeds) as Lourdes, an orphaned teenager who helps Anne in the group’s makeshift medical clinic. Colin Cunningham (Living in Your Car) is John Pope, the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang and Sarah Carter (Shark) is Margaret, a wary survivor of Pope’s gang.
FALLING SKIES focuses on the resilience of the survivors and their determination to maintain their humanity when all else has been destroyed. It is a tale of endurance, commitment and courage in which everyday people are called upon to become heroes. They may be outmatched, outnumbered and outgunned, but nothing can beat the human spirit. Most of all, the series is about the ties that bind people together in the most difficult of circumstances.
The aliens in the series are mighty, mysterious and merciless. They are highly intelligent and use military-like tactics, which makes them an overwhelming force against the 2nd Mass. There are two types of aliens that the human survivors have named Skitters and Mechs. Combining live action and special visual effects, the Skitters have spider-like bodies and incredible strength and agility. The deadly, robotic Mechs stand upright and can shoot bullets from their arms. The aliens control captured children, like Tom’s son Ben, through bio-mechanical harnesses but have yet to reveal their ultimate plan for them.
FALLING SKIES is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, Graham Yost (Justified, The Pacific) and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Oscar® nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) and Greg Beeman (Heroes, Smallville) are co-executive producers. The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time). – TNT
Longer First Look Extended Trailer:
So, here’s the question of the month: How the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks did we miss this. Seriously, we’re genetically predisposed to have the first scoop on all new SciFi programming out there. This is just embarrassing. We only heard about Falling Skies yesterday when we saw the trailer on TNT and thought it was for a summer blockbuster that we didn’t know about.
That being said, this looks exceptionally well-done for basic cable with Dreamworks producing it and Steven Spielberg heavily involved with creating the aliens. Dare we say, it looks even better than Terra Nova and we think it has a better chance of staying on the air for a second season then TN as well because basically they’ve done everything right, so far, as far as production of Sci-Fi television is concerned.
It’s on Basic Cable and NOT on a Major Network. Better yet, it’s on TNT which overall in 2010 was the #4 cable Network on television and #2 for original non-niche scripted programming (for clarification, Disney and ESPN, #2 and #3, respectively, are niche networks) behind only USA. The expectation for high audience numbers is dramatically lower on basic cable than it is on major network which is a luxury that TN doesn’t have on FOX and to make matters worse for TN, over the past decade, Sci-Fi is DEAD on Network television for this generation of audiences and has been an abysmal failure every time it’s been attempted and this dovetails into the next advantage for renewal FS has…
- $$$$ Because FS is on basic cable, the production costs will be dramatically lower than any show on a major network and considering that TN is the most expensive show in the history of television, we can only imagine that the production costs of FS is infinitesimal in comparison to TN. Again, this goes back to the ratings expectations that TNT will have for FS as opposed to what FOX will have for TN. One of the biggest factors a show has to overcome is production costs. When 24 was canceled last year, even though the ratings were continuing to drop they weren’t particularly awful. The problem was (besides the fact that the producers admitted that the well had run dry) that the show was just so damned expensive to produce that they couldn’t justify renewing it. A show has to get high enough ratings in order to justify high ad rates in order to justify high production costs. It’s that simple. Considering what we said about the recent history of Sci-Fi on network, the advantage again goes to FS.
“O, Canada, Our Home and Native Land!” As soon as we saw the trailers for FS, the first thing we thought was, “Oh, this has to be being produced in Canada,” and as we confirmed with iMDB, it sure as heck is (Hamilton, Ontario to be precise). It’s well-known that the key to keeping production costs down dramatically with Sci-Fi television is to film in Canada. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list of Sci-Fi shows filmed in Canada over the last two decades. Where is TN being produced? In ridiculously cost-prohibitive Australia which is just adding to the enormous price-tag of that show. Advantage, FS.
- Shorter Schedule Beyond the obvious fact that producing more than twice as many episodes per season (22 for TN as opposed to 10 for FS) will cost twice as much for FOX, there’s also a much bigger issue and that is that a 22 episode season, by its nature, will air over the course of an entire television season, in this case (allegedly) 2011 – 2012. This means long hiatuses and reruns for the show which has proven time and time again to be catastrophic for Sci-Fi and genre which is exactly why they eventually stopped doing it with 24, Lost, and Alias to name a few, instead, choosing to air their entire seasons as mid-season replacements without anything more than the random one week break between new episodes. Today’s audiences have ZERO patience for serials to begin with, nevertheless Sci-Fi serials, and they will not tolerate shows that leave them hanging for six weeks to several months at a time. FS will air new episodes continuously for ten weeks and it’s airing in the middle of summer with no competition from the major networks which is a strategy that continues to be proven successful for basic cable networks.
Finally, 22 episodes of Sci-Fi is just too much for major network television (and no, even though The CW is a major network, they don’t count for the purpose of this discussion for obvious reasons.). Today’s major network audiences just will not hang in there for 22 episodes of Sci-Fi any more. Now, we love Fringe and we’re certainly thrilled it got picked up for a fourth season but that is an anomaly and the audience numbers haven’t been particularly great for it which is why it got moved from the middle of the week to Friday to begin with. The standard 10 – 13 episode seasons for original programming on basic cable works just fine for Sci-Fi. Advantage, FS.
So why are we so excited about FS? Well, first, the trailers look fantastic and yes, we know it’s not a particularly original concept stealing aspects from The Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, V, The Road, Independence Day and War of the Worlds, to name a few (not to mention that the whole “stealing children and technologically altering them” concept is eerily similar to the Borg in Star Trek) but heck, we like that kind of Sci-Fi because it invariably promises us great action and character development. We also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Noah Wyle looks like he was separated at birth from Terminator: Salvation star and leader of the resistance Christian Bale (John Connor).
Along with the great action, though, is that shows like this invariably raise thought-provoking philosophical questions about humanity, often without the audience realizing it until after it’s happened. This is one of the marks of great Sci-Fi storytelling which this particular brand of Sci-Fi excels at and we really expect nothing less considering the heavy hitters that are on board for this and their experience and success they bring to this in the writing and production department (see the last paragraph of the show description at the top).
Also, just to preempt the inevitable cries of “it’s not an original concept” from the peanut gallery (that have already begun), we’ve got news for you: there are no original concepts in Sci-Fi anymore. Every concept you can think of has been thought up by someone else in this genre and been done already. It’s the execution of concept that counts and that’s what will be the deciding factor in FS‘s success or failure.
Check out the official Falling Skies webpage, here.