As we noted two days ago, Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Miami Vice), Mos (fka, Mos Def) and Colin Hanks (The Good Guys) are also joining Michael C. Hall on this talent-heavy cast for its sixth season.
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 Novaand 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.
Yes... yes they do.
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.
The real reason why so many Sci-Fi shows are produced in Canada
“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.
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
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.
As terrific as Lights Out was, the boxing backdrop in and of itself simply was too niche to appeal to any kind of general audience. First, boxing has never been that popular of a sport in the U.S., but in the last two decades the sport has seen a serious decline in interest by the public. As we noted, boxing really was incidental to the show. The show was really about an ordinary man who, in his prime, had fame and money due to his particular talent, was losing everything and at this point would do ANYTHING to protect his family, even if that meant risking his own personal health, violating his own ethics and morals and even breaking the law.
The problem was that F/X sold this show as a boxing show when there were only two fights during the whole season. It was very gritty and compelling but unfortunately due to F/X’s decision to emphasize the boxing element before the show ever aired, audiences never really wanted to find out. Now, we aren’t necessarily slamming F/X for the marketing decision, though, as it’s kind of difficult for us to envision a way to market this show downplaying the boxing aspect and making it more attractive to a broader audience at the same time. Maybe “Lights Out” wasn’t the best title for the show, perhaps?
C’est la vie, though. TV shows come and go and it’s really difficult for us to get too attached to a show considering how fickle audiences are and how quickly even the best shows seem to leave us. The upside is that Season One of Lights Out played out like a 13 episode miniseries, even in the finale, leaving unanswered questions that frankly didn’t need a second season to be expanded on (even though it would have been nice). They could simply be left to the viewer’s imagination to figure it out for themselves, and that, folks, is a mark of great storytelling.
Possibly Up at the 9 Count For One More Round?
As Spock said, “There are always… possibilities.” No sooner did F/X make the announcement of the cancellation of Lights Out did DirecTV issue feelers to its followers on Twitter regarding interest in possibly picking it up:
FX cancels “Lights Out,” what’s your reaction?
And they aren’t the only ones. In an interview he did for The Hollywood Reporter, Executive Producer Warren Leight explains that although he’s not optimistic about the chances of the show being picked up by another network, they have been pitching it and Showtime’s name in particular had come up.
People express “maybe” kind of interest. I would love to believe it when it happens. My sense is it’s unlikely Showtime would pick up a show that had been on basic cable.
Not so fast there, Mr. Leight. We think everyone who watched this show probably agrees that it was better suited for premium cable than basic cable to begin with (again, we noted this as well in our original review) and there’s also the fact that Showtime has a history of broadcasting programming that was rejected by non-premium television (see: The Reagansin 2003).
As an aside, we highly recommend reading the full interview with THR that we linked to earlier. Leight gives many insights into the show and the state of television today and confirms a lot of our original contentions about the show that we restated above.
“Perfect Couples” is a romantic comedy that follows three flawed pairs trying to get it right.
Dave (Kyle Bornheimer, “Worst Week”) and Julia (Christine Woods, “Flash Forward”) are the “everyday couple,” messed up in all the “normal” ways. Dave struggles to keep both his wife and his needy best friend, Vance (David Walton, NBC’s “100 Questions”) happy. Vance and the volatile Amy (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) are the high-passion, high-drama couple who bring out the best and worst in each other.
The third duo features Rex (Hayes MacArthur, “She’s Out of My League”) and Leigh (Olivia Munn, “Attack of the Show,” “The Daily Show”). Rex is a reformed party guy who has channeled his jock energy into a competitive drive to be the ideal mate. Leigh, a self-anointed relationship guru, has formed the perfect union with Rex, and now considers it her duty to mold the other couples in their image. – NBC
3 out of 10
You will NOT see Olivia Munn looking like this on Perfect Couples.
We freely admit it: the only reason that we even bothered to watch Perfect Couples is because it stars former G4 Attack of the Show hottie, Olivia Munn. It was partly curiosity to see if she could actually act (she was always very funny on AOTS) and partly because of the very likely chance that she might wind up in her bra and panties or at least a bikini at any moment which is generally the fall-back position for network television nowadays when it comes to generic scripted television.
Needless to say, we were disappointed on both counts. Munn kept her clothes on throughout the entire pilot and to make matters worse her acting appears to leave a lot to be desired. Now, we are being generous with that assessment by using the term “appears” because, she may not be a bad actress at all, it may just be an issue of incredibly bad writing because everyone’s performances were terrible. Munn’s problem is that she has no real résumé to refer to outside of AOTS and the majority of her dopey lines were simply repeating the lines of her character’s husband.
Aside from what we will refer to from this point forward as the “Munn Disappointment,” there’s really nothing good about this show. As noted, the writing is horrible. The jokes don’t work, the timing isn’t there and it is completely predictable. The characters are horrible cartoon versions of real human beings and completely unbelievable. The show literally feels like aliens have come to Earth and this is what they think American couples are like based on something they read in a magazine or saw in a really awful romantic comedy that most likely starred Matthew McConaughey. It tries to be clever and relatable and fails miserably.
Perfect Couples: Written by aliens? Perhaps.
You may have noticed the over-abundance of Olivia Munn pics in this piece in various states of undress. Unlike the producers, we decided that we needed to do something to make Perfect Couples interesting and actually utilize its only asset. This show is pretty bad all the way around.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any short trailers for this so if you watch the video you’ll be forced to endure 4 minutes and 31 seconds of propaganda by the cast about how great this show is. Don’t believe them… especially when Christine Woods tells you that you know couples like this. You don’t. You’ve never seen any couples like this ever because they don’t exist.
Watch full episodes of Perfect Couples, here… if you must.
Lights Out, from Executive Producer/Showrunner Warren Leight (In Treatment), stars Holt McCallany (CSI: Miami) as an aging former heavyweight boxing champion who struggles to find his identity and support his wife and three daughters after retiring from the ring. Financial problems leave him at a perilous crossroads – battling the urge to return to boxing or reluctantly accepting a job as a brutal and intimidating debt collector. Catherine McCormack (Braveheart) co-stars as “Theresa Leary,” Lights’ wife who is finishing her medical residency; Pablo Schreiber (Law & Order) as “Johnny Leary,” Lights’ brother and business manager whom Lights put through college; and Stacy Keach (Fat City) as “Pops,” Lights’ father and former trainer who runs the boxing gym owned by Lights. Clark Johnson (The Shield, The Wire) and Norberto Barba (In Treatment, CSI: NY) directed the pilot episode. Series Creator Justin Zackham (The Bucket List), Phillip Noyce (Salt) and Ross Fineman are also Executive Producers. Lights Out is produced by Fox Television Studios and FX Productions. – F/X
10 out of 10
All we can say is that we’re a little punchy after watching that pilot and the second episode of Lights Out. F/X, who we consider the HBO of basic cable, has done it again. Lights Out, without a doubt, is the best new show this spring on television (so far), be it network or cable.
There are so many things good with this show that it’s kind of hard to pin down exactly why we like it in 500 words or less. First, let us warn you that this isn’t the television version of The Fighter or Rocky Balboa and in fact, the boxing aspect of Lights Out, although certainly the foundation of the show, seems more incidental than anything else. Patrick “Lights” Leary could have been a famous baseball player, singer, movie star… whatever… and it wouldn’t really matter as this is a character driven story about the rise and fall of a public hero who’s only goal, now is to take care of his family.
Leary is a very likable and relatable character and reminds us of exactly how we would react if we were the father of three (God, help us) daughters. He would do absolutely anything he could to protect his family which in the pilot includes getting into a street-fight with a loud-mouth former football player behind a bar for cash and acting as an “collection agent” for the local Irish mob boss, Brennan, to deal with a “client” that owes Brennan $500,000. These two situations have very big twists in them and serve as exposition for the man that Leary is and the an he has to be.
Since we’re on the subject of HBO, Lights Out seems like it really would be more appropriate on that network as it feels more in the vein of The Sopranos or The Wire, but then again, this is the network that brought us the raw, hard-hitting epics The Shield and Damages so F/X has proven that it knows how to handle good drama.
If only Lone Star would have found a home on F/X instead of FOX but, we digress.
Lights out is a TKO and we highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of good serialized drama and complex characters, you will love this show.
It’s that time of year again, folks. The time where we come together to say good-bye to an old year and we usher a in a new one. At TV-Tastic, it’s also the time of year where we review the Fall 2010 television lineup, tell you what was good, what sucked and everything in between and why as well as where all of these shows are going to be in the new year (if they haven’t gotten canceled already). Keep in mind that it’s only the stuff we watched for the most part so not every piece of schlock is in here. So let the games begin.
FOX – The Simpsons
We gave up on The Simpsons around 2000 because frankly, it had gotten to the point where they were abusing the social commentary satire that they were famous for and basically began preaching and not being funny. The biggest problem really was that strayed away from the old format of filling every obscure situation with a good joke. That being said, we’ve been dipping our toes back into the Simpsons water for the last couple of years and we have to say that this season is one of the funniest in a very long time. It is as brilliant and original in this its 22nd season as it was during its first ten. They’ve brought back everything that made The Simpsons great and we love it.
FOX – The Cleveland Show
We have to be honest: we don’t like The Cleveland Show. We think it’s incredibly poorly written, a poor rip-off of Family Guy and ridiculously exploits racial stereotypes with little-to-no comedic value. We’re still trying to figure out why Cleveland Brown was given his own show to begin with. The random Cleveland appearance on Family Guy was always funny but the character was never written to be a major presence even on that show so why would the producers think setting him or any secondary character up with their own series is a good idea? The only positive statement we can make about Cleveland this season is that it is slightly funnier than it was last season, but we seriously don’t know if you can call going from a 1 to a 3 on a scale of 10 an accomplishment. Anyway, apparently we’re the idiots because FOX has already renewed it for another season. Waitaminute… this is FOX we’re talking about, after all. Maybe we’re not the idiots after all.
FOX – Family Guy
We’ve been devoted fans of Family Guy since its pilot episode on Fox in 1999. Needless to say, we were heartbroken when it was canceled by the idiots at FOX in 2002, and subsequently rejoiced when it was resurrected again in 2005 (thank you, Cartoon Network). When it first came back after the hiatus, we were kind of disappointed as it just didn’t feel like the same show. The jokes weren’t as funny, weren’t as fast and more importantly, the musical numbers had all but disappeared and any true fan will tell you, the musical numbers were what made old-school Family Guy so damned good.
After a couple of seasons of kind of boring us to death (with the exception of a few standout episodes) there was something else that we picked up that was really starting to bug us: Family Guy was becoming very mean-spirited with their jokes. Now, Family Guy has never shied away from controversy and we’ve never had a problem with the shock-value material, but some of this stuff was just downright awful, alienating and again, very mean-spirited. Old-school Family Guy, as controversial as it was, was NEVER mean and it didn’t have to be because the material stood on its own. It was becoming very clear to long-time fans and objective viewers that Family Guy was resorting to these tactics because the writing frankly wasn’t that good and they knew it.
Near the end of the 2007 – 2008 season, we had decided that as much as we didn’t want to do it, we were going to remove Family Guy from DVR schedule in the Fall of 2008 if we didn’t see marked improvement.
We can honestly say now that we’re certainly glad we gave Family Guy a chance because like The Simpsons, Family Guy began to go back to what made the show great and left the mean-spiritedness behind. The show has gotten progressively better over the past two seasons (with more musical numbers to boot) and this season is one of the funniest in history.
We normally just erase shows immediately after watching them off the DVR but Family Guy has become so good again that you literally have to watch an episode at least twice to catch the jokes you missed the first time around because you were laughing so hard and so long at one joke that the next one blew right by you. THAT is what Family Guy was all about. This season’s episode, Excellence in Broadcasting guest-starring (of all people) Rush Limbaugh may be the funniest episode in the history of the series… I’m not kidding. It’s definitely up there with the greats such as Wasted Talent, Petarded and PTV. We don’t care if you love Limbaugh or hate him, if you can’t appreciate how brilliant that episode is, you should not be watching Family Guy.
Here is one of the funniest scenes ever done on Family Guy from the episode Baby, You Knock Me Out, again, from this season and available in its entirety here.
HBO – Boardwalk Empire
We did a review the night after the series premiere of Boardwalk Empire where we proclaimed that it was the best show on television (the review can be read here.). After watching the entire first season there is absolutely nothing I would change about my analysis of this series, it is the best show on television… period. That being said, as ana aside, there is something that I have noticed on the series for some time now that viewers really should be aware of. The show isn’t completely historically accurate. In the aggregate, yes, the overall story is true, but many of the nitty-gritty details have been dramatized… A LOT. For example: there’s a whole storyline about Warren G. Harding’s mistress who had his baby. In reality, this story of the mistress and the baby was a rumor that was never historically confirmed yet Boardwalk Empire puts it into the storyline as if it were fact. We have no problem with creative license, but there should be full disclosure especially from a fictional show that revolves around actual historical figures. Just sayin’, is all.
Showtime – Dexter
Well, Dexter has officially gone 24 on us. Allow us to explain: After four seasons of improving storylines, 24 had its masterpiece season in season 4. The problem is that there was absolutely no way the producers could ever top that season so the next three seasons seemed disappointing by comparison. This is exactly what happened with Dexter in season 5. Season 4 of Dexter with John Lithgow as “The Trinity Killer” was one of the best seasons in television history and had one the best shock-finale of any series in recent memory and that hurt season 5. The anticipation was so built-up because of season 4 that this season, although very good, was a bit of a let-down and nowhere near as satisfying as season 4. We still love the series and we can’t wait until season 6 airs but the fans need to understand that season 4 was the defining season and its never going to get any better than that.
FOX – American Dad
American Dad has been the one consistent bright spot in the FOX ‘Animation Domination’ lineup on Sunday night. The show is absolutely hilarious and every now and then they throw in an episode that completely breaks from the sitcom fare and goes into the column of “epic event.” If you’ve seen the Christmas episode from season five Rapture’s Delight, you know what we’re talking about.
Unfortunately, it seems as if American Dad is always on the list of shows to be canceled each year and this season is no different. I blame the time-slot and usually I would just say “don’t worry, it will be picked up next year,” but this year we were a little concerned because of the mid-season replacement, Bob’s Burgers looked VERY funny based on the sneak-preview we saw on the Family Guy: It’s a Trap! Blu-Ray. That being said, FOX has had a history of trying to upset the apple cart in recent years on Sunday night and it hasn’t worked. Besides the fact that none of the shows they’ve tried to knock off American Dad with have been very good, I think audiences have gotten very comfortable with American Dad and though its audience numbers haven’t been as huge as Family Guy, they’ve been consistent.
Also, now that we’ve had a chance to see Bob’s Burgers, we think it’s safe to say that it won’t be around long. Read the full review of Bob’s Burgers, here.