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TNT’s new alien invasion series

August 3, 2014
Anne Glass in her new role as kick-ass resistance leader.

Anne Glass in her new role as kick ass resistance leader.

In adjusting to the new job, I have been getting behind on a bunch of my regular TV viewing and this blog for which I’ll apologize up front. So, we finally decided to catch up with Falling Skies the other night by watching the first episode of season four. I’ll state going into this that while I enjoyed the series, it wasn’t one I really recommended to people as it strikes me as the kind of show that isn’t going to appeal to some genre TV fans due to the more sedate pacing. After watching the first episode of the new season Diane and I looked at each other with “what the hell just happened” expressions on our faces. The show picked up a new show runner for season four and the change is so extreme that, as much as I hate to see a series get cancelled, I kind of wish they had just cancelled the series at the end of the last season, which would have been a reasonably decent series finale, and just started up a new alien invasion series using the same cast. What I basically watched was a new pilot for some completely new alien invasion based genre TV series but, more importantly, something that people for whom the original Falling Skies didn’t work might want to check out. With this thought in mind, I’m going to write a brief review of this new pilot episode of Falling Skies.

Ghost in the Machine is effectively a new pilot for a reboot of TNT’s alien invasion drama Falling Skies. I’m going to review this as it’s own first episode for two reasons. First, I feel that one doesn’t really need to have watched any of the previous three season and second, I don’t want to half the review to be filled with continuity changes. The episode opens with the characters on the way to Charleston where the humans had a hidden camp. If you are starting the series from here, just sort of roll with the dialogue as you really don’t need to know any background character details because within a few minutes they won’t matter anyway. The group is attacked by aliens (they are called the Esphani), separated and rounded up. The action immediately then jumps to four months later and takes place in a number of locations. The first and principle one is a prison camp built on the ruined part of a city. We come to learn that there are many such prison camps across the globe. Some people, presumably the ones the Esphani consider more dangerous, are kept in isolation while the rest are allowed to roam free within the compound. There are occasional food drops by the aliens and a Lord of the Flies style society is the result. Our main character, Tom Mason is one of the individuals held in isolation but, he is able to secretly sneak out and administer some kind of order under the disguise of a character known only as the ghost. He is also, like some of the other prisoners we see, planning an escape from the forcefield enclosed compound. Outside of the camp, we see a group of human resistance fighters lead by the highly capable Anne Glass. They are in the process of trying to intercept a truck that they believe to be carrying ammunition from the Esphani. The truck is driven by ay a human collaborator with no guard whatsoever which makes the theft that much easier but, what they find is a surprise that is not at all what they were looking for. Another location we see is an alien re-education center which is run by human collaborators and is filled with human children being trained in more of a “hive mind” kind of mentality which presumably parallels that of the Esphani. Finally, we see a fourth facility where there are humans who are supposedly living at peace with the alien invaders. They are lead by a young woman named Lexi who is an Esphani/Human hybrid of some ilk and, as a result, seems to wield some unusual powers. There is a lot of moving parts in this pilot with much of it is clearly set-up for the remainder of the season. First time viewers shouldn’t be worried about being confused by anything as regular viewers of the series are largely in the same situation. Ghost in the Machine is definitely much more action oriented than the original Falling Skies was and, from this pilot, I’m guessing will continue to be so throughout the new season.

Falling Skies has become a completely different series and I’m probably not going to pursue it any further myself at this point for a couple of reason but, normally I would give such a new series about five episodes to sort itself out before deciding whether I would continue with it. The reasons I won’t be following it have more to do with me than the episode itself. First, are the constraints on my time caused by acclimating to my new work schedule. Second, and this is even more on me, I have a pretty good memory and am largely unable to forget everything I already know about the Falling Skies universe. As a result, I’ll likely end up getting frustrated with the rewriting of the background and characters from the previous three seasons. In fact, enough of this was done in this episode alone with the total retconning of the Esphani that I have pretty much reached my limit already. I’ll ultimately probably check out on whatever streaming service it lands on if the reviews are positive. In any case, I just wanted to let fans of genre TV know about this seemingly total about face of Falling Skies in case they found the original series to slow for their liking and want to give this new version a try.

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