|Last night TNT broadcasted the two hour premier of the new science fiction series, Falling Skies, which follows a group of human freedom fighters several months after an alien invasion.
The series itself is unique in that it doesn't talk much about the alien invasion itself other than an early narrative given by a child. The only visual images of the alien invasion and aftermath are crayon drawings. The narrative is relatively simply and has been told before: The aliens show up one day but don't respond to our attempts to communicate. One day the aliens use an EMP to destroy our electronic devices (and our most effective weapons, natch). Then they attack and destroy our military in short order. They then begin an orgy of killing, forcing the survivors to go on the run and take up arms to defend themselves against the alien invaders.
In this telling of the story nobody seems to know why the aliens (called "Skitters" by the surviving humans) are here or what they want. The only clue so far is that while they tend to kill human adults on sight, they prefer to capture children alive and then place some of sort of an organism on their upper backs (called "harnesses" by the characters in the show) that is connected to the host's brain stem and spine. The children then become compliant to the aliens and appear to be completely under their control. Attempts to remove the harnesses have so far resulted in the death of the host. At this point it is unclear what the children will be used for.
The aliens themselves are divided into two categories: the first are the skitters, which are the actual race of aliens. They are six legged, insect/reptilian creatures that are tough and aggressive, but mortal. The second are the "mechs", which are bipedal battle robots that are heavily armed and armored. So far it only appears that only way to defeat them is with a heavy application of explosives. The only other enemy combatant seen so far is some sort of fighter aircraft that is equipped with lasers and missiles. The skitters closely monitor sources of weapons and food, such as armories and grocery stores, and use them as bait to attack humans when they go there.
The surviving humans are a pathetic, but determined lot. They've long since given up on trying to make peace with the aliens and are now focused on merely surviving. The humans are divided into two groups: fighters, which seem to consist of older veterans and teenagers, and civilians (derisively referred to as "eaters" by the fighters). The fighters are themselves divided into two camps: those who want to stand and fight, and those who want to focus defending the civilians while they run and hide from the aliens. They are given quasi-military designations, i.e. "2nd Massachussets", in a not so subtle attempt to compare the resistance forces to Revolutionary War colonial militias. They are armed with a mix of AK-47s, M-16s, a couple of RPGs, explosives, and a lone .50 cal machine gun mounted on a 60's GTO.
It is clear that the creators of the series (which includes Steven Spielberg) want this series to be a military sci fi series as much or more than just another post-apocalyptic drama. The main commander of the groups of Massachusetts survivors is played by Dale Dye, which lends the series some military credibility. Sure, there is plenty of drama. Most of it revolves around the character played by Noah Wylie, who is a former college history professor that tries to motivate the other fighters by regaling them of stories of prior military victories and defeats, and how they can help them fight the aliens. For the most part, the humans' strategy isn't so much to defeat the aliens militarily as it is to fight a war of attrition, inflicting enough casualties on the aliens that they will be forced to give up and go home.
I kind of liked Falling Skies and will probably continue watching it, but time will tell if the series succeeds. Hopefully the writers stick to the template and try to maintain a military sci fi yarn about how it might go if we are every invaded by aliens. If the tale gets bogged down in a lot of drama and back stories then a lot of guys like me, who have been starving for a good military based drama series, will probably tune out. Just curious to see what everyone else thought.