Tag Archive: popdecay


ImageLast year, Steven Spielberg’s (“Saving Private Ryan”, “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial”) “Falling Skies” introduced us to the world in six months- if an alien invasion had happened today.  With 90% of humanity wiped out, we join the 2d Massachusetts Militia Regiment under the command of Captain Dan Weaver, played by Will Patton (“The Postman”, “The Agency”).  His second-in-command is Tom Mason, a professor of American History portrayed by Noah Wyle (“ER”, “Pirates of Silicon Valley”).  They lead a group of 300 strong survivors as they retreat, regroup, and eventually retaliate against the alien invaders.

Three of Tom’s son survived the invasion: The eldest Hal, played by Drew Roy (“iCarly”, “Hannah Montana”), and the youngest, Matt, played by Maxim Knight (“Special Agent Oso”, “Three Rivers”), both escaped with their father.  The middle son, Ben, played by Connor Jessup (“The Saddle Club”, “King”), was captured and harnessed by the Skitters.  ImageThe young actors turn in consistently competent performances, a pleasant change from many young actors in demanding roles.  Their characters fill important roles throughout the season, while additionally providing Tom his primary motivation. 

Rounding out the 2d Mass we have Anne Glass and John Pope, portrayed by Moon Bloodgood (“Pathfinder”, “Terminator Salvation”) and Colin Cunningham (“Stargate SG-1”, “jPod”), respectively.  Anne Glass is the unit’s medic, a pediatrician before the invasion, who advocates for the civilians to boot.  She and Tom have a close friendship which took a romantic turn in the finale.  Pope is a fan-favorite who serves as the cook for the 2d Mass, having been pressed into service once his post-apocalyptic gang was destroyed.  The former felon has a variety of skills that come into play through the season, with his intelligence and grey morality proving their worth several times.

The alien invaders consist of the Skitters, which are insectoid foot soldiers.  They are aided by the robotic Mechs and rapid Airships.  Landed motherships based in the ruins of the major cities, such as Boston, serve as their headquarters.  One of the primary objectives is capturing and “harnessing” human children, rendering them servile as well as allowing communication with the Skitters via radio waves.  These forces are all controlled by the Slenders- tall, thin and vaguely humanoid aliens who make their entrance toward the end of the season. 

The series does suffer from pacing issues.  Good drama in any genre focuses on interpersonal relationships with multidimensional characters.  Science fiction and military dramas, however, also give us some action while moving the story forward.  The first season gave us a too much exposition and an overabundance of clichéd character drama without moving the plot significantly forward.  Further, until the finale, there was not a sense of danger.  This took a promising if familiar story and sapped a lot of its potential.

There are two main plot points that weaken the series.  The first would be the ”mech bullet”, which made human pistol strong enough to destroy Mechs.   It comes off as a cheap videogame deus ex machina- “You found Super ImageBullets”- not a solution for a supposedly gritty series.  Secondly, the reason for the invasion seems to defy logic.  They have interstellar travel, advanced weaponry and presumably technology in general- find Earth, come to Earth and invade to capture child slaves and scrap metal.  The former might make sense at some level, but the latter does not given the abundance of metals on other planets or in the asteroid belt.  If these major issues and the pacing are addressed in the next season, the show can make up for its lost momentum.

Overall, the first season felt ponderous.  The action was slim though generally well done.  The characters have been fleshed out pretty strongly, but there have also been times that people broke character for the sake of forcing drama.  The motivations of the invaders are still unknown and somewhat illogical.  However, the finale was impressive with a genuinely surprising twist.  If the pacing and quick fix issues are addressed early in season two, there is a lot of promise in “Falling Skies”.

We have an assortment of bonus features on the DVD and Blu-Ray versions.  An extended version of the pilot is welcomed, but doesn’t provide any big surprises.  It does feature its own commentary track, as do five of the other episodes.  The featurettes, (“Making the Skitter”, “Harness Makeup” and “Director One on One”), are fairly blasé.   The last one, “Day in the Life”, is somewhat interesting in explaining the so-called normal activities, but even it falls flat.  Likewise, the deleted scenes and character profiles don’t do much but extend some scenes without adding anything to the overall story.  The 2011 Comic-Con panel movie is a welcome addition.  The Blu-Ray has two exclusive extras- a short film on creating the comic book plus a collectible trading card.  To sum up, the extra features are fairly mediocre, but do add a bit of value. 

If you enjoyed Falling Skies, these discs are a good buy.  Or, if you have a history buff in the family, Father’s Day is this weekend- they might enjoy the series given the American Revolution parallels.  

Season Two of “Falling Skies” premieres this Sunday (June 17th) at 9pm/8 central on TNT. 

Advertisements

One of the things I am doing now is professionally reviewing various television shows/episodes and movies.  Currently, most of the reviews are hosted at PopDecay, “a leading online news, politics and entertainment information delivery service.”  The reviews that go up there are the Streamlined reviews, whereas the ones I post here will be the Robust reviews.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think- civilly, of course.

When we last left the Eureka cast, it was a on a high note turned sour.  The Astreaus mission to Titan is ready finalizing for its exploratory mission, goodbyes are being said, but overall, a definite sense of accomplishment and anticipation.  Of course, this means something goes wrong- after all the crew is aboard in their protective chambers, the ship launches uncontrollably with Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) unintentionally aboard.  And that’s where we left off…

Here there be spoilers…

Episode 1, Lost- We start off with the Astreaus, and find out what happened.  In fact, it is a solid, surprisingly action-packed beginning to the final season- definitely a welcome surprise- since we left of a cliffhanger and aren’t normally treated to strong action sequences. The crew crash lands- wait a minute, on Earth?- and almost four years have passed.  This comes as quite a shock to the crew, but we see it most clearly with Allison and Zane (Niall Matter), who find out their significant others, Sheriff Jack Carter, (Colin Ferguson) and Deputy Lupo (Erica Cerra), have moved on and gotten together with each other.  Further complicating matters, there has been a change in how things are run in Eureka- it’s very Stepford Wives, except instead of robot replacements, Android Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and his A.I. brethren control the people of Eureka using a device from the show’s history.

Aside from the changes in the town, a few things seem wrong.  One of the most prominent elements is how tightly “happy thoughts” are enforced in the town.  When Zane and Lupo have an argument outside of Café Diem, one of the Martha flying drones incapacitates Zane.  In fact, this incident leads to Carter, Allison and everyone deciding it times to take the town back.  After noting the change of Dr. Parrish’s (Wil Wheaton) personality, they know which invention needs to be used.  The ensemble cast gets a good chance to showcase individual members, without it feeling “by the numbers”. Once the Andy problem is resolved, the crew of the Astreaus begin to integrate into the freed town once more.

Image

Episode 2, The Real Thing- This episode begins with the return of Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino) in a lab, surrounded by the Astreaus crew.  Each crew member is hooked up, and we learn they are not four years in the future, but tied into a virtual reality simulator.  This is what was teased at when Zane was unconscious, (if you paid close attention and remembered it for a week), but does come out of left field.  We learn that all 21 members of the crew survived and are being used to develop new technologies for the Consortium.  And, we learn that the time skip inside the VR lets helps to form new memories in the crew, as well as explain any anomalies in the program.  Honestly, this reviewer found the lack of transition from Futurama Eureka to in a VR simulation a bit jarring.  A few seconds from the POV of an unconscious character in one episode, to full reveal in the intro of the next? Aside from this point, the surprises play out quite well.

Which brings us back to Eureka.  In the month that the crew and the Astreaus has been missing, Jack, Kevin (Trevor Jackson) and Henry (Joe Morton) have been working furiously trying to find the ship.  Of course, they have been looking to the stars- the mission was to Titan, after all.  Once Senator Wen (Ming-Na) officially calls off the search, Kevin resorts to his old tricks of borrowing from Eureka’s scientists to assist his search.  In fact, Henry confirms that he has designed a device that can track the Astreaus- so Jack and Carter send out a call for the parts they need.  The residents of the town respond with everything they can, just short one crucial piece.  With Andy and the returned Lupo’s help, they are able to secure it from a nearby military outpost.

In V-Eureka, the stress on the system causes an iguana experiment from the mission to become a dragon.  Fargo and Holly disagree on if it can be real, because dragons are mythical.  In fact, no one really can believe it, even after a few minor injuries and capturing said dragon.   Holly’s scratches, however, prove to be the solution to a problem with the VR matrix.

Back in the real world, the tracking device is activated.  Eureka’s best rolls out to rescue the crew, but they only find the ship and the room with the unimportant equipment from the simulation.  This gives Jack a hunch, and which he uses to find out that Eureka had a mole- one who tipped off the kidnappers.  The back and forth between Virtual Eureka and Real Eureka worked well in this episode, and served to play off each environment.  That said, the death of the character feels like it was more for shock value- one might say Whedon-esque- especially given the resources available and the benefits of keeping him/her alive.