By Seth Love
TNT’s hit sci-fi/fantasy drama Falling Skies has been renewed for its third season—good news for the nearly 6 million viewers. With Stephen Spielberg and Dream Works Pictures behind the design of this series and indeed the excellent storytelling, who could question such numbers? In the first season, Noah Wyle and his family, as well as the Second Massachusetts, skirmish with aliens across the globe—communications have been lost, families torn, and communities failing. And in the end of that first season, after Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a history professor, lost his wife in the alien attack; after his son was taken by aliens and then changed by them; after his two other sons try to find foot-holds in the chaos, both wanting to fight and both too young—one barely a man, the other only a boy—Mason boards the mother-ship to negotiate for his family, and presumably all mankind, or at least the 2 to 300 hundred of the second Mass.
The audience and the characters could only hope, at this point. And, so did I; moreover, like all Americans I was entertained by the apocalyptic setting, the fear of the unknown. I think there are at least a few hopeful reasons why this drama draws attention:
Firstly, as I have already said, aliens. Foreign objects, beings, or parasites from Outer Space pepper the entertainment world, not one could deny this. And as Americans, we want to know what could be out there. In some way, I think we are all hoping we are not alone in the Universe.
And secondly, Falling Skies has presented a gripping story in the first season as the viewer-ratings convey. And on a broader setting for the entertainment world, that is, the movies, shows, art or any other sort of entertainment that we as Americans seem to enjoy—even if they are not in the same sci-fi/fantasy drama as Falling Skies—are the ones which tell a moving story, or at the least layout a fun plot. Which, I think, Falling Skies has done pretty well for a sci-fi/fantasy series amidst Television’s plethora of cop, medical, fashion, and reality shows; and where most sci-fi/fantasy ideas are reserved for cartoons or B-rated movies.
The writers of Falling Skies achieved such a creation of deep, interesting human connections by applying American history as well as poignant character-development. Yet, with the continuation of the Mason family and second Massachusetts’ survival in the second season, we have lost the history which I believe helped define these honest characters in a presumably fantastical setting.
There were many moments in the first season where Noah Wyle’s character, or even another, associates American history to the situations with these new alien invaders. I think this added s substance to this show that many others seem to be lacking. By adding a historical context into the already expected plot-lines of romance, pride, courtesy and revenge, Falling Skies added a crux, if you will, to base this sci-fi/fantasy show on more than fiction. The history lets the story become personal. Yet, as the second season progresses, there is little of that historical tether, and I (for one), am starting to lose a connection to this show, for the second season has offered little in development other than a tenuous ally of aliens, and more danger; it seems most of the time has been spent on Mason’s eldest son’s, Hal’s, love story.
One can only hope that the producers remember, not all TV watchers are looking for teen heart-throbs.