FallingSkiescoverGrade: B+
Entire family: No
2013, 440 min. (10 episodes), Color
Rated TV-14 for some violence and peril
Warner Bros.
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Included: Blu-ray discs (2), UV copy
Bonus features: B+
Season 3 preview

Falling Skies is as out-of-the-question for younger children as any monster or war movie would be, because it’s essentially a combination of the two. But families with older children will find it easy to get hooked on this series about a group of humans who’ve survived an alien invasion and are now fighting as an underground unit to reclaim the planet and perpetuate the species.

My ‘tween daughter isn’t a big fan of sci-fi and she’s definitely squeamish about violence. Yet, like my teenage son, she loves Falling Skies, which is produced by Steven Spielberg. Maybe one reason is that there are certain “shooter” games on the X-Box that she’ll agree to play with my son, and the sci-fi violence on this series tends to resemble what they see as they’re blasting away in the basement. 

The premise: After attackers had wiped out over 90 percent of Earth’s population, all that remain are groups of survivors. The series follows one such group—the Second Massachusetts irregulars—with the focus on a single family. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is a widower who was a history professor before the invasion. We see him gradually lose his protective parental nature as the greater good—fighting off the aliens—and the dangerous new world puts demands on his three sons: twentysomething Hal (Drew Roy), who this season, as happened to his father, is infected with eyeworms that cause him to do evil things; teenage Ben (Connor Jessup), who survived the biomechanical harness that the aliens had attached to his and other children’s spines to enslave them and now has a prescient connection to them; and Matt (Maxim Knight), the youngest, who asserts himself more with every episode.

FallingSkiesscreenThere’s a reason why Terra Nova, a big-budget dinosaur adventure that also had Spielberg’s backing, flopped, but Falling Skies is still going strong. It all comes down to great creatures, special effects, characters and acting, and the ensemble for this kick-alien drama does a fine job. If there’s a weak link, ironically it’s one of the main stars. Will Patton sometimes just seems a little wooden as Captain Weaver, a military man who came out of retirement to lead the regiment with Mason as his second in command and is still part of the inner leadership circle. But even when he seems a little stiff, his character is still as likable as the rest.

The balance in this series is also nicely handled. The family drama, the relationship side plots, and minor character subplots are well integrated with “creature shots” and action or peril. The most extreme violence that happens this season occurs when a man is blown away by an alien weapon. This season the office of U.S. President blows like a leaf in the wind. One minute it’s Tom, the next minute it’s the real U.S. President who was thought killed, and the next . . . well, enough spoilers. Other plot threads include the insurgents’ quest to find out who the mole is that’s been sabotaging their plans, the baby that Tom and Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) had that was infected with alien DNA, and a building showdown with Karen (Jessy Schram), the human who’s been serving as an overlord for the aliens.

As I wrote in my Season 2 review, ultimately it comes down to individual families whether Falling Skies is approrpriate, and because family is at the heart of this sci-fi action drama, it does holds appeal as a choice for family movie night. We watched five episodes one night, and five the next—at the kids’ request.