Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stupidity & Falling Skies Season 1: A Review


Falling Skies is an entertaining series that is deeply riddled with problems (at least, so far with season 1).  I love post apocalyptic stories and I love space aliens, so combining the two is a nice touch and won my attention.  With season 1 now finished, I am conflicted with this series, but I must say I watched the entire season and plan to watch season 2 (I cant say the same for "V").  I love the premise and the overall narrative, but am extremely frustrated with so many items scattered throughout the show.  Granted it is a worthy show (albeit not great) but worth continuing. Below are my problems with season 1:


SPOILER WARNING: SEASON 1 SPOILERS 


Screaming Uncontrollably to Blow Your Cover
This happened twice that I can remember off hand and it was just so incredibly stupid:
 
Scene 1:
The first was when the gang took a day trip to rescue some kidnapped kids (one of which being Noah Wiley's son). They had a strict plan of attack.  Note: all the kids have an alien harness attached to them so they are drones and they are all overlooked by several aliens in mech warriors - something you can't do much to.  So when they are hiding nearby, watching the kids do your standard slave labor, one of the guys sees HIS son!  Can you believe it??  We'll, this is an interesting plot point if they didn't throw up on it: this guy starts SCREAMING his son's name.  Now, this act is stupid for three reasons: 1 - his son is a DRONE and won't react and 2 - you are calling attention to you, and everyone else on the mission, and 3 - you just threw the plan off coarse and will be responsible for the death of your team, if not everyone.  THEN, as if you thought the stupidity was over, he jumps up and runs over to his son.  THEN, before he just grabs his son and runs away, he tries to talk and reason with him with conversation, as if it cant wait until they both aren't about to be killed.  "ITS ME!  DAD!"

Scene 2:
Near the end of the season, a few guys go on a mission to scout and they make a discovery (and awesome one - probably the best of the season) - that the aliens they were fighting all along are actually ENSLAVED by another alien-species. Later in the episode the gang finds a stranded woman who lives by herself.  She in turn, is in communication with the aliens: she trades insider (human) information about the resistance or any human movement in exchange for food and to not be killed.  The guys find out the hard way as they are almost killed and track back to the woman to find out what is going on and when they do, they wait for the alien to show up and communicate with her.  A nice touch about this show is the communication between aliens and humans (when it happens) is through enslaved children (the drones).  They control the kids and speak through them, etc.  So (getting to my point), the crew is waiting in this woman's house and a small girl arrives at the door and delivers food.  The girl (a drone child controlled by an alien) and the woman have a short conversation.  The crew realizes two things: an alien (a BAD ASS superior alien) is standing next to the girl and that the girl is someone they know.  What does the crew do?  Well, Noah's son goes apeshit and starts SCREAMING that they have to save her! The rest quickly muzzle him and pin him down until the alien and girl leaves.  Again, this is stupid for the plain fact that he is going to get everyone killed.

Surely there are better ways to express extreme emotional change than blatant screaming that is so obviously stupid as to get everyone killed.


Crowds of Pure Joy and Ecstasy
You know in movies or shows when there is a crowd and something good happens and everyone cheers?  Have you ever realized how fake and stupid this is? Like when an evil villian says his master plan and all his goons start laughing?  LAUGHING! Pretty dumb, right?  Falling Skies does this alot.  While everyone may be happy, not everyone needs to scream in joy, wave their arms about, and hug each other as if they are experiencing the most profound orgasm.
No need for specific examples here because this happens a lot.  A LOT.  A crowd of people are gathered and something good happens.  Either they discover something new or the captain gives good news.  What happens?  EVERYONE makes noise. EVERYONE throws their arms up. EVERYONE moves around.  Have you ever done this?  While this is a standard movie cliche and helps the audience understand that the people are happy, it's over the top and fake (and stupid, of course).  Keep an eye out for these scenes and pinpoint ONE GUY in the crowd and watch him and see what he does.  Kinda stupid when you see him individually instead of as the collective group, right?
 
OVERALL THOUGHTS
  1. Not everyone needs to do something. While it's a cliche that you may feel needs to happen because a silent crowd is bad, we don't need to be looking at a crowd that is similar to Green Bay Packer fans at the super bowl.
  2. A lot of times, this is after a death or something terrible, so it contradicts how they should really be feeling (or they should be seeking immediate help!)  "Didn't 5 guys just die 5 minutes ago?  Who cares.  YIPPEE!"

Mech Warriors and Their Loud Noise
These things are cool, but do they need to make a loud noise ALL the time?  The sound is iconic and frightening, but tells everyone where it is!  Yes they have loud foot steps and rattle the nearby area, but why the noise?  What causes it and why does it emit it so often? It's as if they want everyone to know where they are.


Characters (or lack there of)
Noah (right) is the only character we care about and he does a damn good job in this show.  We care about him because... well, uh- I don't know.  Why do we?  Because he does an amazing job acting?  Probably.  Also, because he is the only rational person in this show (for the most part if you don't include the chick he totally tongue tied at the end of the season).  That's a bad reason to like someone.  To be fair, he is loyal and hard working, etc, etc, so he has a least some connect-ability (since we saw this happen and experienced it with him).  But everyone else on this show is pretty much a pointless character.  In fact, they not only have no character, they are stricly "character conflicts."  I made that up just now: they are pre-determined personas that we can't relate to because we are told who they are and they just react predictably so we don't care.  That and they act so OVER THE TOP to their "conflict destination" (made that up too) that its very frustrating. Below are a few problematic characters (of the many):

NOAHS YOUNGEST SON
This kid is really annoying.  Every line out of his mouth is "i wanna fight," or "I wanna help," or "I wanna be a big boy!"  We get it.  Shut the hell up or say something to make us want to not punch you in the teeth.

STEVEN WEBBER
He was in a few episodes as a "nemesis" to Noah.  How do we know this? Because someone told us. "Oh man, those two don't like each other!"  We didn't have enough interaction between the two.  So, aside from "knowing" this guy is a dick, he continues to be 200% dick when they capture an alien (a sub-alien, not one of the super ones).  There is a classic argument between Webber and a rational chick

CHICK
We should communicate with this alien so we can learn more about it.

WEBBER
KILL IT!

CHICK
But if we learn about it we can learn why they are here and/or learn how to kill them better.

WEBBER
KILL IT NOW!

CHICK
I am going to talk to this thing and try and save humanity.

WEBBER
I AM GOING TO KILL IT NOW!  AARRRRGGGGH!"

RELIGIOUS GIRL
There is a girl who is religious on this show!  WOW!  Her only point so far is to tell people to have faith in God.  Again, that's all she does and since she does nothing else, it's over the top.  Also, all conversations are so pointlessly generic and stupid that you want to fast-forward when she is on screen.
BOY
Why do you pray?

GIRL
I pray to God for everything I am grateful for.

BOY
Why, we are dying? humanity is nearly extinct.

GIRL
Yes but we have lots to be thankful for.

BOY
Oh wow, I see things differently now, thanks.

MAN
What does God have to do with the 10% of your day not living in pain or fear?

CRICKETS
Chirp.


CAPTAIN
Will Patton, the guy who was the lead villain in the postman is the lead captain  in this show.  I distinctly remember him because when I saw that terrible movie I thought "Wow - this movie is horrible and the main villain was horrifically miscast!  While he is amazing, he looks like a big teddy bear and I want to hug him!"  So with his casting slot as a captain, I like it.  He can be nice and a dick but he is ultimately a good guy. So - my problems with this guy is that since he is a "captain" he obviously needs to create conflict by going against logic (Noah).  There are a lot of internal conflicts (between humans) in this show for a series about defending the human race against invading space-aliens.  While he is a good character, a lot of it is illogical, the most frustrating aspect being the last episode:

This guy becomes irrational because he is addicted to sleeping and waking pills.  He becomes delusional and with the plan of a final attack against the aliens, he is about to lead everyone to a suicide mission since he is covering up the fact a few other armies (they are supposed to join) have been killed.  Noah tries to stop him and gets locked up but eventually saves the day.  How?  He talks to the captain at gunpoint and he magically changes his mind.  I DONT CARE ABOUT THIS! (I said to myself throughout most of the episode).

PROBLEMS:
  1. The two make-up and are friends again instantly (cute) despite they wasted a lot of time and captain is a big dick (the bad kind)
  2. Captain says he stopped taking the pills.  WHAT? So why was he acting CRAZY? WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION TO THIS?
  3. They go on the suicide mission anyways but instead of leading men blindly into it, he is upfront and asks for volunteers instead of commanding everyone.  This results in the SAME crowd who would have gone to go anyways and the same results happen!
OVERALL (Characters)
Too much of this show is based on internal conflict. Or at least TOO much of the internal conflict is forced, over the top, and stupid. I am not against the human conflict and I agree that a large portion of the show should be humans only, but this season was a little too much.  Everyone always has a problem with everyone else! That and too many characters are just extreme personalities with a purpose only to create conflict.  I DON'T CARE.  Make the people more human and give them interesting, realistic dialog about their lives or the world, etc - THEN jump into why they don't trust each other or why they would risk the lives of hundreds of people to prove a stupid point.


HUMANS KILL EACH OTHER
Two kids who were drones are saved and back as normal, but they have some problems. One is more of a problem because he still feels connected to the aliens. This kid acts and feels like he belongs with the aliens and pities the human race for "killing each other" since aliens "would never do that."
  1. I highly doubt that ANY advanced species stop killing each other. (or have never from day 1).  YES, in an advanced civilization the majority can be good but not everyone can achieve bliss and therefore, some will resort to crime or murder to stay alive, etc. While this is an argument for philosophy, this doesn't fit into reality for me.
  2. WHAT?? This kid was a SLAVE to the SLAVES of the SUPERIOR ALIENS.  What does he know about anything? What is he basing this from? He loved his slaved leaders who were slaves themselves?  Maybe he feels a connection but... it sounds pretty stupid. (and this was an episode cliffhanger!)

Make-up on the Hot Chick
As you can probably guess, there is a hot chick on the show.  What you may not predict is that she hasn't found a pool or lake to swim in yet. She hasn't even worn anything that revealing!  And you thought they hit up ALL cliches!  The problem with her is that she is in FULL MAKE UP.  All actors need makeup because of lighting and image capture, etc - but she has the full REVLON thing going on.  Instead of giving her makeup to keep her logically attractive, they decided to give her full blown make-up so on camera, it looks like she spent 45 minutes in the morning applying it to her face. This makes no sense because 1 - there isn't make-up in their environment and 2 - she has no purpose or time to apply it.  Most movies do this, but at LEAST it is under normal circumstances.

Naked Aliens
There are two alien species so far - both are naked.  Why?  They don't wear clothes?  Even our cavemen wore clothes!  There are theories that as a species evolves they will turn into bundles of energy without mass.  So somewhere along the line we will lose interest in sex and our genitals will be rendered useless and fall off - maybe.  Whatever your theory of evolution is or how far advanced these aliens are, they are still physical forms and whether or not they have sex, they most certainly go to the bathroom to some degree (so there are some parts they may have shame with).  Why do both not wear clothes? Maybe because they look more badass without wearing their favorite lucky red baseball cap.


SEASON 2 THOUGHTS
The ending of the season 1 was a very nice touch. Noah successfully blows a ship up as it is landing in the alien structure over Boston and this grabs the attention of the super aliens, who land a ship in front of Noah's joyride back home and ask him (through the same drone girl - apparently she is their favorite) to join them in their ship.  Noah says no and the aliens say "you dont have much of a choice.  For some reason, Noah is still under the impression that it is still a choice AND this choice must be made in order to save his son, Ben.  Um, what about the human race? Or the fact you dont have a choice?

Woops-sorry, I was talking about the end being a nice touch.  IT WAS.  Of course the aliens want to pick his brain since he is sort of in charge of the most successful resistance effort yet.  Aliens want to figure out how to make it all stop.  While plenty of people complain its a "Close Encounters" ending or others say "how stupid it doesn't make any sense," I say it makes perfect sense and just because he gets on the ship doesn't mean its the same thing as Close Encounters.  The overall concept of this show is great, they just need to stop doing these cliches that nearly ruin the show!

What I would like to see in Season 2
  1. More of Pope (character).  He conveniently lived and is one of the few genuine "characters" on the show.  Plus, there is great room for his character to grow and evolve.
  2. Noah has to ask to use the bathroom when on board the alien ship.
  3. The alien's questions to Noah on the ship needs to be similar to the scientist questions to Woody Allen in "Sleeper"
  4. Answers about what the aliens want and where they come from (not too much though).
  5. Details about the skidders (the sub-alien-species).
  6. The 2nd Mass (current group of humans) find a way to communicate long distance with other humans
  7. Hot chick wears less make-up (and less clothes maybe? She can get into a fight and tear something...)
  8. Religious girl loses a hand (maybe a limb every season?)
  9. There should be a cut-away episode that follows the Taliban
  10. Aaron Eckhart needs to make a guest appearance
  11. What makes humanity worth saving? (a good topic to bring up)
  12. Let's see some awesome super-alien mind-bending long-cons! Since they are in communication with us now, they should have some badass tricks up their sleeves. They have lived far longer than humans have, so their history books must be piled high with all the tricks and cons of warfare.  Let's see something brilliant (that only Noah can stop).