Before I begin, I’d just like to mention that you’re not going to find any spoilers in this post.
I suppose I could claim that this is because of some outdated sense of honor, and that I just want you all to be able to wait with baited breath for as long as possible in the lead-up to tonight’s Season 2 premiere of Falling Skies on TNT – but to be perfectly honest, if I tried to pick out parts of the 2 hours of television you’re going to see, I’d still be trying to put together a list by the time we get a “To Be Continued” S2E10 season finale.
What I will say is that Season 2 is not going to disappoint those of you who found yourselves hooked on the struggles of the 2nd Mass during its first season.
From a plot arc side, every time I thought I finally had a handle on the direction the plot was taking, I was proven either wrong or wildly wrong. This is only the first two episodes of the season and the plot dangles itself tauntingly in front of you. You’re going to turn your TV off tonight with more questions than you thought you had at the beginning
The production seems to have really ramped up their CG offerings for this season. The Mechs and the Skitters both look to have been given a major sharpening, with the blending of CG and live-action being nearly seamless. Falling Skies also uses puppetry for the Skitter creatures, but you’ll be hard pressed to tell when it’s real or when it’s Memorex, as the saying goes.
TNT has a couple of interviews with the guys heading up those responsible for the visual wonders of the show, Andrew Orloff (@VFXHack) of ZOIC Studios who’s the VFX Supervisor, and Todd Masters (@ToddMasters) of MastersFX (@MonsterMasters) that’s responsible for the physical skitters, animatronics puppets and people in skitter suits.
Both of these guys I’d love to just spend time watching at work. Between them they’re powerhouses of effects, and TNT has done a kick-ass job bringing their respective houses on board Falling Skies! As I keep mentioning to @elizabethKarr, it’s the VFX crews that do all the work, the cast is simply there to support them! (Disclaimer: I’m biased )
You’re going to see some amazing CG work tonight, I think some amazing mattes of the inside of skitter ships and one kick ass new look at the mysterious “greys”, the tall skinny aliens introduced at the end of last season.
The best part about tonights episodes, I think, will be that all the factors that made Falling Skies riveting watching last season are still there but doubled down.
This is a show whose basic premise involves aliens and technology, but managed deftly to use those things as a vehicle to drive the central conflict: What does it mean to be humans?
We’re going to get that tonight, and in Season Two in general I think – and it’s going to take us into some darker places of that question we might not be entirely comfortable. Tonight is going to light the fuse on some of those dark arcs, and going by what Colin Cunningham (@CunninghamColin, who plays unapologetic functional psychopath John Pope in the series) tweeted not so long ago it’s going to get ugly:
The old arcs from Season One are still there in the back of everyone’s minds, with Connor Jessup‘s (@connorjessup) character Ben Mason coming right back into play as the effects of being harnessed by the aliens progresses. Given the Pope/Tom Mason (played by Noah Wyle) conflict, I think the “Rescue Ben from the aliens” driving premise behind Season One is just going to morph into a different angle in Season Two and start making us, the viewers, ask a lot of questions of our own attitudes.
You’re also going to see Luciana Carro (@LucianaCarro), who played Kat in the SFC Battlestar Galactica series on your screens again, as Crazy Lee.
TNT has a large cast on screen – the whole situation is, after all, surrounding a bunch of survivors. That gives them a lot of potential elements to fold in, then out, shallow or deep, into the arcs as the season continues. Going by trailers of episodes beyond tonight’s, it looks like we’re going to get to see inside the shadowy elements that give the plucky resistance fighters of the 2nd Mass. their marching orders too somewhere down the line.
I’ve mentioned the way studios seem to not be able to balance costs of doing technologically challenging episodic science fiction series before, lamenting how so many good shows have been killed after a short time even as audience share built up because of production costs. I’m more than happy that Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks production company and TNT are working so well together to produce what is rapidly becoming one of a select few surviving science-fiction based TV shows!
So in short – WATCH the show tonight. You won;t be disappointed. Even if you don’t usually “like” science fiction, this show is science fiction but isn’t about the science fiction. It’s well worth the watch!
I was under no obligation to receive it, or to talk about it, and I don’t get any additional benefits for talking about it.
They don’t even ask I say anything nice about it! I received what looks like a standard screener package, with a little booklet explaining the show’s backstory, the DVD with 2 episodes, sans commercials or trailers, and a card about Klout and them asking to make sure I add this sort of disclaimer if I wrote anything about the show.
Images courtesy of TNT’s Falling Skies Promo Site.
Footnote: Please don’t consider my enthusiasm for Falling Skies in any way to detract from my philosophy that the aliens always get a bad rap and are simply misunderstood – that still applies in “kill the aliens” shows, I haven’t been replaced by a human pod person