So much for a series to fill the dirty black TV summer – I’m already through, and it took only 3 days. On one hand, that has to do with me having to wait for the workers that ensured my balcony (or what’s left of it) won’t fall off completely. On the other hand, it’s also a sign that the series does have potential to keep me interested.
I really appreciate the refreshing lack of sex scenes and romance interfering with the plot. Most recent series insist on being “darker, edgier and bolder” by having at least one sex scene per episode. Not even in Spartacus – where many, many sex scenes serve as plot device and have an actual purpose beyond fan service – they always fit in. And that gets a bit annoying, though most shows don’t push it as far as Stargate Universe with exclusively out-of-context, unneccessary sex and rushed, senseless romance. Falling Skies has two couples, kind of.
First, it’s Hal and Karen, then Karen gets taken by the aliens and Hal basically doesn’t care. No teenage angst, crying and long talks about feelings. That said, I was surprised to hear Hal is supposed to be 16 or 17. He has nothing of a typical teenager that age. The series is set a few months after the alien attack and such a short time under extreme conditions didn’t turn the other kids into responsible adults over night. 13 years old Jimmy, despite being a soldier now, still acts like a 13 years old boy, for example. Hal is the right age for a rebellious teenager, but instead, he’s on best-friend terms with his father. Coming from a perfectly functional family – his mother died recently in the alien attack – there’s nothing to explain why he (and none of the other kids) ‘grew up’ so fast. I’m absolutely not opposed to this trait, by the way. I’m glad he’s not an annyoing brat. Anyway, after not-really-dealing with the loss of Karen, Hal gets a new girl by his side; slightly older Margaret. There doesn’t seem to be romantic tension, they are more a battle couple that has each other’s back.
The second couple, and there is a lot more romantic tension, would be Hal’s father and our main hero, Tom and resident doctor Anne. Both appear to not quite mourn the loss of their families, or wife, in Tom’s case. It’s only been a few months since their loved ones died, but they already act like a long time married couple before it comes to the one and only kiss in season one. Which is also the closest to a sex scene the show gets – a semi-rushed kiss before Tom storms off to rescue his captain. Very, very refreshing, these non-mushy character relationships.
I have also decided that I like John Pope as character most, just as I expected. Naturally, being no typical world saving hero helps the case. But what I really appreciate is probably the Merle Dixon Factor. He’s controversial (to a much lesser degree than Merle, more around Daryl levels) and most of all, he has proven to be a total wild card. Which is the one thing I really miss in Daryl, and since Shane’s death, in Walking Dead as a whole. Pope is truly unpredictable and doesn’t always do the logical thing, and that’s what keeps things interesting. And, in a way, logical.
In post apocalyptic scenarios like an invasion by hostile aliens or a worldwide zombie epidemic, it makes a lot sense to me that people like Merle and Daryl Dixon – or John Pope – survive and do quite well on their own. Being sort of an asshole is helpful when society breaks down and outdated morals and ethics hold “better” people back from doing the neccessary things. Someone not exactly opposed to violence, weapons and crime stands a good chance to fight off whatever Big Bad a show throws at them. On the other hand, it is a mystery to me how all the whiny pacifists (and every survivor group will have at least one of them) that are terrified of the idea to kill anything, even children-enslaving tentacle aliens or hungry zombies, survive long enough to join any survivor groups. Same for the inevitable pregnant woman or single mother of at least two brats that draw the attention of the Big Bad at any given chance and endager the group for the sake of suspense.
Falling Skies has a bit more logic who survived than movies with a similar premise. Most of the military was wiped out during the initial attack; what’s left of the army makes up the fighters of the survivor camps; with the younger and less experienced adults as scouts and the older people staying in the camps and keeping things running. Or contributing otherwise, like Uncle Scott, who manufactures explosives for the soldiers. Main hero Tom isn’t even military, which is quite refreshing for a show about fighting alien invaders back and equally surprising considering it’s a Spielberg series. And as a former history teacher with theoretical knowledge of military tactics, it still makes sense to have him in the position he’s in.
The bad side is, I’m already through the season and have to wait for new brain food again. The good side, season 2 starts airing this month, in less than a week, so the waiting isn’t too long. And 6 days are a damn lot better (and easier to fill) than months.