Picture this; everything is going on as normal. The sun rises and sets, children’s laughter is common place and somebody’s music is way too loud. Then suddenly life changes in a heartbeat.
No, I’m not talking about a hopeful summer blockbuster movie, I’m outlining TNT’s newest series “Falling Skies” from executive producer Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, Graham Yost (“Justified,” “The Pacific”) and screenwriter Robert Rodat.
Rodat, who earned an Oscar® nomination for his screenplay for “Saving Private Ryan,” wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Mark Verheiden (“Heroes,” “Battlestar Galactica”) and Greg Beeman (“Heroes,” “Smallville”) are co-executive producers. The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (“One False Move,” “Out of Time”).
“Falling Skies” opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen-soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien forces.
At the center of the series is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a Boston history professor whose family has been torn apart. His wife was killed in the initial attack, and one of his three sons has been captured. Determined to get his son back and to ensure the safety of his other two sons, Tom must put his extensive knowledge of military history to the test as one of the leaders of the resistance movement known as the 2nd Mass, because of their location in Boston, Mass. They are constantly trying to gain intelligence about the aliens in order to one day outsmart and overtake them and hopefully rebuild their own lives.
The aliens in the series are mighty, mysterious and merciless. They are highly intelligent and use military-like tactics, which makes them an overwhelming force against the 2nd Mass. There are two types of aliens that the human survivors have named Skitters and Mechs. Combining live action and special visual effects, the Skitters have spider-like bodies and incredible strength and agility. The deadly, robotic Mechs stand upright and can shoot bullets from their arms. The aliens control captured children, like Tom’s son Ben, through bio-mechanical harnesses but have yet to reveal their ultimate plan for them.
Now for most of us sci-fi junkies, this premise sounds very much like “V” and all of the other such thrillers that have hit the big and little screen. But what makes this series so tantalizing is the fact that they have some big guns pulling this project together.
When I saw that Carl Franklin was directing the premiere episode, I got really excited. Not only is Franklin an excellent actor, but as a director his mind goes places that shakes you to the bone. It’s nice to see a brother who is a seasoned veteran take on a highly hyped television project.
In 1992 Franklin made his directorial breakthrough with the crime drama “One False Move” (1992), the story of a manhunt for three small-time criminals after a drug deal gone bad. This movie was so captivating and disturbing that it sends chills down my spine just thinking about it.
The film also earned him the New Generation Award by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association in 1992, the MTV Movie Award for Best New Filmmaker and the IFP Spirit Award for Best Director in 1993.
Franklin wrote and directed Denzel Washington in “Devil in a Blue Dress” (1995). If you’ve never seen this movie, do yourself a favor and check it out. It happens to be one of my all time favorites.
TNT’s “Falling Skies” premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.
Gail can be reached at email@example.com.