Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Falling Skies or Stupid Human Tricks

The first alien invasion story I ever saw was The War of the Worlds.  Not the new one with Tom Cruise, but the original 1953 version.  I couldn't have been more than seven when I watched it on TV one sunny Saturday afternoon.  Do you know why I've never seen the remake?  Because the original scared me half to death.

There's a scene where an alien camera-thing sort of sneaks up behind a woman.  It looks like a head with three glowing eyes and it slinks down from the ceiling on a long tube of a neck.  When she finally notices this monstrosity she lets out an impressive blood-curdling scream before the hero lops off the offending head with an axe.  The neck then zips back up through the ceiling and into the ship hovering above them in the sky.  I may have screamed.

And what do these humans do after inflicting bodily harm on the alien camera-head thingy? They grab the head to take back to their lab for study and get the heck out of Dodge because there are giant killer aliens with laser beams in the sky and all the humans have is an axe.  See, smart humans.  The humans in Falling Skies, however, are from the shallow end of the gene pool since rather than doing smart things, these guys excel at Stupid Human Tricks that surely have the aliens laughing as they destroy the planet.

I watched the two-hour premier the other night and almost didn't make it through the whole thing.  First, there's the cliched Dad-trying-to-save-his-kids.  He's just an ordinary, everyday guy who used to be a history teacher.  He doesn't t know the first thing about tactics, or fighting or any of that stuff.  He's just a guy, you know? He wants to keep his two boys safe and rescue the one who the aliens have already managed to wrench from his shaking hands.  Poor Dad.  Poor kids.  Poor, poor humans. They're a ragtag fugitive fleet, searching for justice and a little piece of earth they can call their own in a mad, mad world....ugh.  I didn't use enough cliches in that paragraph to fully convey how overused they are in this story.

The show begins six months after the aliens land on earth, blow up all the cool cities and start stealing our kids.  Yeah, the kids.  There are lots of scenes with the sad, sad, sad kids because that makes it deep and meaningful and touches something in the heart of even the most hardened viewer.  We humans are on the run, stealing food and scavenging weapons as we evade our new alien overlords.  Again, it's been six months so these humans ought to be the smart ones, right?  In The War of the Worlds, the first three guys the aliens kill are some goofballs that walk up to the ship waving white flags.  That is a Stupid Human Trick and they are rightly incinerated.  The folks who survive the opening salvos are smart because they run in the opposite direction and hide in bunkers and behind sandbags and are all sneaky-like.

In the opening scenes of Falling Skies, they hide behind completely ineffective piles of burned out cars in the middle of the street and get blow to bits while trying to push along a little trolley cart full of food.  Stupid Human Trick.  If I was going to sneak into a store on a debris filled street to scavenge food right under the noses of the aliens I wouldn't bring a wheeled cart that I had to push along like a little old lady.  I'd bring a large backpack or two so my hands would be free to shoot and I could run as fast as my little feet could manage.

Later, they head to the armory to see what kind of weapons they might be able to secure.  As a test, they throw a ball toward the entrance for their dog to follow and if an alien comes out, then they know they've got trouble.  I liked this idea because this was a Smart Human Trick to root out the alien.  And, surprise, there is an alien hiding in this obvious location full of weapons.  Luckily, we've been warned thanks to Fido, but then this one guy runs out to save the dog! What, the what?  Have they learned nothing in their six month occupation? Stupid Human Trick.

The most recent episode aired last night and at the moment, I have not decided if it's worth my time.  I like alien invasion stories, even the ones that scared me as a kid, but I hate it when they are full of Stupid Human Tricks.  I end up rooting for the aliens, or the evil human that inevitably makes an appearance.  In fact, the evil human in Falling Skies was all kinds of crazy awesome and he might be what gets me to watch the next episode.  That, and the off chance that there might be some intelligent life on our own planet who can save these fools from themselves.

What do you think?  Can't wait to see what happens to our hapless humans or are you rooting for the aliens?

15 comments:

  1. I've got the first two episodes waiting on my DVR and I've been on the fence about watching them. Based on your review, it might be worth a laugh or two to watch the Stupid Human Tricks.

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  2. Yes, if you watch it prepared to roll your eyes a lot, then you'll be just fine.

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  3. I gotta say, I pondered this all week. I like the dude from ER and the dude from Stargate but this 2 hr premier was just so ridiculously lame.

    Finally I decided to stop the season recording. I'll usually give a show with potential more than 2 hrs but this just struck me as bad to the point of actual regret for having watched it.

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  4. I love Noah Wylie aka That Dude From ER and was really looking forward to watching him in this, but I just can't stomach the show. I usually give a show a bit of time to find it's groove, too, but this one was just too bad for a second chance. Unless someone comes and tells me somwhere down the line that it got much better, this one is not on my viewing list.

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  5. TNT sent me to swag to encourage that I spread new on Twitter. Of those you received "Official Alien Invasion Survival Kits" the one who spreads the biggest fuss over Twitter will "win a walk-on role"...

    A) This isn't Star Trek, no one has dreamt of being a walk-on
    B) What are the chances the show is around long enough for the winner to collect?

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  6. A walk-on role? Bahahaha! Oh, those TNT folks have a sense of humor, or they're just really, really positive thinkers.

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  7. This series is terrible and even a person like myself who's English could work out that it was actually filmed in Canada, because the dates on the war memorial they were standing in front of were 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

    Pathetic.

    Yet again we are told everything about the human relationships but nothing at all about the aliens; why are they here and what are their capabilities and weaknesses?

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  8. I watched the pilot and all I kept thinking was, "This is what happened on Caprica after the Cylons attacked and the fleet left." It seemed like the Caprica survior/resistance story but with stupidity and cliche.

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  9. I was so bored with the first episode that I almost gave up. When they tossed the ball and the dog chased it...and the other character did the stupid human trick--well, I stopped watching and haven't gone back.

    Thanks, TBS, I'll just continue with "Eureka" and such and wait for the return of "The Walking Dead" and "Sherlock".

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  10. yes why cant we have sf as intelligent as Rubicon is for thrillers - ok i do have a big crush on Tanya :-)

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  11. I had to wonder why they didn't train the dog to sniff out the damned bugs and alert them, rather than using him as bait.
    And I agree with Robert, Fred and Thunder - I loved Rubicon (and FlashForward, and Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Firefly...) At least they pulled the plug on V.

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  12. Yes the characters on the show are stupid but on the bright side they are slightly less stupid than on "The Walking Dead". Replace zombies with aliens and this what you have. And as the aliens are smarter and better armed than zombies the Humans have to be at least slightly smarter as well.

    Bottom line this is what modern sci-fi amounts too. It's either this and walking dead or a far dumber reality show.

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  13. Part of me whole-heartedly agrees with the less than impressed feeling shared here. However, I am reserving judgement for an episode or two more.

    I am looking at the series as more of a character story. Of course, my interview with Moon Bloodgood probably had a lot to do with my current perspective on the show. Prior to the interview, I was thinking Falling Skies was going to be a kick butt epic scifi show. Just what we need for summer. In this, I am glad for the changed perspective for I surely would have been disappointed.

    While, yes there are aliens, they are not actually the primary focus of the show. Thinking about the series finding its home on TNT, I find it actually makes more sense. Character series are dead center of TNT's wheelhouse.

    Admitedly, the series has started off at a snail's pace. Thankfullly, the second episode moved some of the story lines ahead. However, they also introduced a rather paltry, completely cliched character to add a bit more useless backstory.

    For the time being, I am holding out hope the pace will continue to increase and draw more on the alien invasion and human survival. Then again, this could be a giant trap for the writers, who at this point haven't exactly won my confidence.

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  14. The weird thing is that it seems like some spell was cast over the internet that makes this show seem good. This show is very very lame. Its trying to cash in on the Walking Dead Survival genre. The characters are ABSOLUTELY lame and the story always fizzles.

    This show is purely a "name dropping" project. Slap some unknowns in it and take away Spielberg's name and you would have ONE show and that show would be a very lame SYFY tv movie. You guys know I'm right.

    I'm upset because of the hype involved with this show. Switch the ad people with the people who run the show and then make the show a web series that is 15 minuets, then maybe it might be a descent show.

    The skies are not the only thing falling when it comes to this show.

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  15. TV Network to PC Second Mass in Falling Skies, Over?

    This is Second Mass; go ahead.

    You managed to get another season from the producers so here are some important tips to keep your viewership.

    1.) Be sure to keep plenty of Skitters and Mechs around to patch up any further plot holes. You might lose some viewers who see through the idiocy but most of them will have the attention span of a gnat.

    2.) Be sure things are all touchy feely and make sure all cultures are represented. It is okay to swill beer but no one is allowed to smoke and everyone ( including white trash like Pope) has to have perfectly white demon teeth. This must also extend to the aliens. Touchy feely is the way to be; you are not allowed to harbor any bitter sentiment towards the aliens even if they killed over 6 Billion people. (I don't know about you but I would want some major payback in a big way....as would most any normal human not Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. Treaty or truce.....**** No!!!!

    3.) Any action must be prolonged to (once more) cover up any gaping plot holes. Amazing that the humans have 100's of DU rounds but only one of them actually penetrates a Mech (More on that stupidity later). That part reminded me of the A-Team (hundreds of rounds capped off but no one is hit.) Am I supposed to take this seriously?

    4.)This alien race has travelled light years to invade the Earth and the best that they have are still projectile weapons? For the Mechs to have their implied firepower they would have to be FILLED up with bullets and they would be so heavy it would be laughable.That is pure stupid. A laser array would make one hell of a lot more sense. Of course, they are about as good of shots as are the humans....

    5.) The relationship between the oldest son of the Wyle character and the not so bad bad girl;: He looks like 17, she looks like mid 30's. That is beyond cougar and approaching the area of pedophilia but as long as they aren't smoking cigarettes, that should be okay.

    6.) I watched the first and second seasons of this typically PC show (I watched Season 2 in hopes there would be improvement from Season 1) but I can take no more of it. If you want a decent Alien Invasion Story, I would suggest Footfall from Niven;/Pournelle. or some David Gerrold.

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