Friday, July 15, 2011

Critiques Critiqued: Aliens Can't Count?

Like all other episodes of Falling Skies, last Sunday's episode has brought out a new crop of complaints from various nitpickers. One complaint in particular caught my attention enough to dedicate a new Critiques Critiqued post to it - the notion that the skitter didn't realize Hal wasn't faking being harnessed.

7 > 6

So one of the seemingly obvious flaws in the scene is that the skitter should have been able to notice one extra kid. Even if it didn't really pay attention to the fact that Hal was a different kid, the skitter should have realized it had one extra kid-slave right? Well, not necessarily.

Do you think the skitters count each and every kid each time they look back at them? Of course not. Why would they? Up until this point, nobody has tried to "fake" being a harnessed kid so the skitters had no idea to even watch out for that kind of thing. The skitter may have even counted the kids before entering the hostpital, but since Hal snuck in passed the mech, the skitter was caught off guard and unaware to the notion that somebody would have somehow slipped in. So it's actually a lot more unrealistic to think the skitter would notice an extra kid when there's no reason for it to think of such a thing.

Out of Control

Another possible issue would be that we know the skitters control the harnessed kids so it should have noticed Hal wasn't being controlled. Of course, the problem with this concern is that we still have no clue how the skitter-harness-kid control thing works. Seems to be radio related, but maybe it's some sort of one way broadcast that is just picked up by harnessed kids and the skitter has no way of knowing which kids it's being sent to. Think of it like talking on a radio on a certain channel. You broadcast out some instructions and they are received by other radios but you have no idea what radios. So if that's how it works, the skitter would not be able to tell what kids are harnessed or even how many are harnessed.
continue reading...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Critiques Critiqued: Ricky's Dad

This entry into the Critiques Critiqued series will be focusing on probably my own biggest critique of the show so far - Ricky's dad. If you've been reading my episode reviews, you've likely noticed my frustration with the character and while I am still annoyed by him, I will attempt to play devil's advocate and defend his actions.

Rescued Ricky, Sacrificed Karen

So the dad's first big FUBAR was the botching of the rescue mission in which Mason and his group were going to try and grab Ben so that Dr. Harris could try out a new harness removing procedure. Once the group spotted Ricky and not Ben, it didn't take the dad long to shout out to him and blow their cover.

Obviously his actions were boneheaded and frustrating to many viewers (myself included). However, if you really stop to think about it and try to put yourself in his shoes, you should be able to see where he's coming from. Imagine your kid being abducted by aliens and for the last few months you've had no idea whether or not he was dead or alive. Miraculously, you see him when you're in a position to save him. Not only that, but you had just learned earlier in the day that there's a method that should be able to save harnessed kids. Also keep in mind that Ricky's dad is probably not a soldier so the overwhelming emotions and hope just take over during the spur of the moment and cause him to recklessly run out to save his kid at the expense of others.

Was it a stupid thing to do? Yes. Is it that far-fetched to imagine a father that's been separated from his kid for months would throw caution to the wind and risk everything to save his son? No.
continue reading...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Critiques Critiqued: Survivor Behavior

In this next installment of the Critiques Critiqued series I'll be looking at many of the complains some viewers have had over how the survivors have been behaving considering they're on the brink of extinction.

Not Scared Enough

So one of the biggest complains I've seen is that some thing the survivors on the show aren't acting scared enough. I mean, they've been invaded by a powerful alien force, dwindling supplies, have had friends and family members die in front of them, and are facing the very real possibility of human genocide. During the pilot, however, the survivors don't seem to be all that worried. Sure, they have an occasional comment about the lack of food or about people dying, but should they be a lot more scared?

No. No they shouldn't. You have to remember, this series is taking place six months after the invasion. These survivors have had to deal with their circumstances for quite some time now. Seeing an alien isn't much more than seeing a regular human enemy combatant at this point. Also, the survivors have become much more accustomed to losing people and have learned to deal with it. I'm not saying it's easy, but they can't break down and cry every time somebody dies at this point or they'd be doing nothing but crying.

Another thing to consider is that the kind of people that would be constantly scared and paralyzed by fear would probably the kind of people that couldn't survive the six months after the invasion. They likely either died by alien or outlaw hands or just plain starved. What we have left is the kind of people that can find ways to deal with the horrible situation they've been thrust into.
continue reading...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Critiques Critiqued: The Aliens are Too Weak

Whenever a show takes on the science fiction genre, it's bound to get analyzed like crazy and while some critiques are valid, many of the concerns I've seen people have are actually quite absurd. As such, I've decided to start a series of posts here that basically analyze common critques I've seen about the show.

This first post is all about the aliens and how some seem to think they are just not powerful enough. Whether it's the physical form of the skitters not being up-to-snuff or the fact that there are still so many humans around to put up a fight, some people are not happy with how the invading force has been realized.

Superior Tech Does Not Equal Superior Body

It's actually quite funny how we humans think that any sort of alien race that has the ability for interstellar travel must also be physically superior to us. Why would having bigger guns or better spaceships mean the creatures firing those guns or piloting those spaceships are somehow physically superior to us humans? For all we know the most powerful aliens in the universe are most closely related physically to a worm. Maybe it's because they are so weak physically that they've had such a focus on technological advancement?

The skitters in the show may not be giant all powerful world killers, but they also aren't worms. They are clearly more powerful than a single human, so what's the problem?

Big Ships Don't Mean Big Guns

I guess the fact that a single skitter by itself doesn't seem to be packing much heat. But of course, why should it? Humans, for the most part, are defeated. We're pretty much just trying to survive at this point. Skitters only seem to show up when they are backed by a mech or two and unless the humans have a significantly larger group than the aliens, the aliens seem to have no problem. And if the humans do end up having too large a force? Well, we saw what happens during the first 10 minutes of the premiere when the aliens dropped some sort of bomb on a resistance group that decided to fight back just a little too hard.

Sure, the aliens don't have some crazy armor or shielding that makes them almost impossible to kill, but again, why are we assuming they have that technology? Just because they have some cool guns, can travel space, and have some sort of EMP weapon doesn't mean they also somehow built really good ground troop armor/vehicles.
continue reading...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Do We Need Another Alien Invasion Show?

With The Event and V already on television, the question of whether or not audiences want another alien invasion TV series is definitely a valid one.  Without having seen a full episode of Falling Skies yet, my viewpoint could very well change, but as it looks now, I think Falling Skies will end up being the only true "alien invasion" television show out of the three.

Let's look at The Event first.  In the beginning, the aliens were actually portrayed as the victims.  Most of them were locked up in prison and just about all of them were friendly and had a code of "do no harm" to us humans.  It's only until recently have the aliens turned into potential invaders.  Also, the show also has very little in the way of alien technology.  Most of the tension and drama come from the various politics at play.  I'm not saying there needs to be a bunch of alien spaceships or anything, but you could ditch the notion that there are aliens at all in The Event and it'd still play out nearly identical to how it's going right now.  So far there hasn't really been anything relating to an "alien invasion" storyline.  The last few episodes started ramping up the possibility of an invasion, but the invasion seems more like a normal human versus human conflict rather than one coming from outer space.

While The Event's relation to an alien invasion show is quite thin, V is another story.  On the surface, V is nothing but an alien invasion show.  After a couple seasons, however, we still have humans thinking the aliens are benevolent.   It's pretty clear that the "invasion" aspect of the show is more of a carrot at the end of the stick that we keep waiting to happen.  This last season ended with what seemed to be a first strike by the aliens and the reveal that the humans have prepared their own defense force... so perhaps the show will turn more towards and actual invasion story.  Until then, I full expect to see the story continue with the aliens hiding their true intentions to the masses and doing a more sneaky invasion rather than a full on war.

This brings us to Falling Skies.  From what we can tell from the previews and the web comic, not only is the show very much an alien invasion story, but it's pretty clear we've already been invaded.  Basically, the show seems to be what it would look like after the Indepenence Day movie if the aliens had won.  The aliens beat us and we're struggling to survive.  They've got bigger guns and better tech, and we've got... well... I'm sure we've got something.  This is why I'm so excited for the show, because it really is about us trying to survive against an alien invasion.  Sure, there have been plenty of movies that have covered the topic, but this looks like it may be the most promising serialized version of the genre we've had yet.

So, with three different alien shows I definitely see room for one more - especially when this one seems to be taking place right in the midst of an actual invasion rather than teasing the possibility for season upon season.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

5 Reasons I'm Excited for Falling Skies

  1. The Subject Matter
    Probably the biggest reason I'm excited for this show is that it's a drama that takes place during an alien invasion.  I'm definitely a sci-fi fan and this show looks to deliver on that front.  I can't really think of any shows in recent history that have dealt with this kind of subject matter.  Sure we have V and The Event that are sort of similar, but as you'll see in a future editorial, I don't really think those have much in common with Falling Skies.  Imagining our planet being attacked and subsequently invaded by an superior alien force is a common hook in many movies and I think will be finally fully realized during Falling Skies.

    Also, Falling Skies looks to be a lot more gritty and serious than most sci-fi related shows we've had in awhile.  It seems like it's going to take that tone further even than shows like Battlestar Galactica which was praised for it's more serious take on the science fiction genre.  Serious isn't always better of course, but in this case, I think it's going to be both refreshing and uniquely engaging.

  2. The Writers/Producers
    Steven Spielberg being attached to the project is definitely reason to get excited.  He's most known for amazing movies like "E.T." and "Saving Private Ryan" but that's not why I'm so excited that he's on board.  I'm thinking of his more recent outings with the mini-series "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific".  If Falling Skies ends up being anywhere near the quality of those two shows then we'll have one heck of a series on our hands.  I doubt TNT is going to be spending anywhere near the money on Fallings Skies as HBO does with its shows, but I can definitely picture a "Band of Brothers" type show that takes place during an alien invasion.

    Mark Verheiden may not be a recognizable name to most, but if you check out his past work, you'll definitely see why I'm thrilled he is a part of this show.  He has some extensive sci-fi experience with more lighthearted shows like Smallville to more serious ones like Battlestar Galactica.  Most of the television shows he's been a part of were shows that were favorites of mine while they were on the air - with Battlestar Galactica probably being one of my top two or three shows of the last ten or so years.

  3. The Cast
    In my opinion, Falling Skies doesn't really have a lot of big named actors and actresses involved.  There probably won't be too many tuning in based soley on the cast.   With that said, Noah Wyle and Will Patton are the two clear standouts that most will know and I'm a huge fan of both.  Actually, I wasn't really much of a Noah Wyle fan until I saw him in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (basically a cheesy version of Indiana Jones).  He was very likeable in the movie (and the subsequent sequels) and I'm excited to see him take on what seems to be a more serious role in Falling Skies.  Will Patton is just a solid actor all around and I've enjoyed him in pretty much every role he's been in.

    Like many shows, you've also got those actors and actresses that you know you recognize from something but just can't place it.  Bruce Gray, Dale Dye, Coling Cunningham, and Moon Bloodgood are all faces you've likely seen before and should probably have fond memories of whatever it is they've done in the past.  We'll see how big of a role they each will play and if Falling Skies ends up being a platform for them to make a bigger name for themselves.

  4. The Network
    I actually can't remember the last time I turned on TNT to watch anything.  As such, you might then be thinking I'm rediculous for mentioning the network being a reason to be excited for Falling Skies.  The thing is, one of my biggest fears when watching a new series isn't whether or not the show will be any good, but whether or not it will be cancelled.  Too many shows that I've loved had been cancelled prematurely.  Show like Jericho, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,  Caprica, and many others were all on just long enough to get me hooked before being yanked away.

    TNT doesn't have many original shows.  They have a lot of reruns, movies, and sports.  They claim they "know drama" so I think they have a lot on the line with Falling Skies.  I think the fact that it's not on one of the major networks means that TNT will give the show a chance even if it doesn't have huge numbers right out of the gate.  Of course, I was hoping for a similar situation with the Blade Television Series on Spike, but I was sorely mistaken when it was cancelled after a single season.  Let's hope TNT won't let me down on this one.

  5. The Summer Drought
    So why does it matter if the show airs during the summer?  Well, the first reason goes back to my fears from #4 in that one thing I hate most is when a show I really love gets cancelled.  With Falling Skies airing during the summer, it should have a lot less competition and should mean TNT is more open to it not having huge ratings.  The second reason is that there's not much else on.  Yeah, I know that's not a good reason by itself, but with the summer TV drought, it's great to be getting a potentially unique and interesting new show to watch.  There's not clue whether or not the show will remain a summer series or if it's just a one time thing, but I'm glad Falling Skies will be there to help fill the void.

So what are some of your main reasons for getting excited for the show?  Any thing I missed from my list above?  Anything you disagree with?  Let me know if the comments below.