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Tag Archive: Falling Skies


Nerd HQ 2015 Mr ROBOT

Bummed that you’re not getting your convention fix this weekend because you’re not in San Diego?  Never fear, you can watch the weekend’s panels happening across the street from San Diego Comic-Con at the Nerd HQ event online now.  Just pull-up your GoogleTV or YouTube app and check out the links below.

Streaming runs live through Sunday, but we expect these to be available on YouTube as with prior years.  Here is the line-up for each day:

Thursday, July 9 – Day One

10am: ZACHARY LEVI

12pm: BATTLEBOTS – Alison Haislip, Jessica Chabot, Donald Hutson, Peter Abrahamson, Greg Munson, Matt Maxham, and Chris Cowan

1pm: DEAD RISING – Jesse Metcalfe, Dennis Haysbert, Zach Lipovsky (director), and guests

2:15pm: WILLIAM SHATNER

3:30pm: YVONNE STRAHOVSKI

5pm:  HITMAN: AGENT 47 – Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware

6:30pm  SUPERMANSION – Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Zeb Wells, Heidi Gardner, Tucker Gilmore, and Tom Root

7:30pm  JULIE PLEC, GABE SACHS and Friends

8:30pm  LAST SHIP

Firefly Nerd HQ 2015

Friday, July 10 – Day Two

10am: SHERLOCK – Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Rupert Graves

11am: THE VISIT – M. Night Shyamalan, Jason Blum

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By the borg.com Writing Staff

As the spring TV season winds down, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect back on this season’s viewing, looking at what ultimately made our “must watch” list, and what didn’t.  Look back to see our reviews, then check out our weekly lineup!

Let’s start with what didn’t make it for us:

  • The Firm.  Although we enjoyed the performances, and the overall series mystery seemed intriguing, the focus on courtroom melodrama bogged this one down.  The fatal moment, though, was an episode in which the Rules of Criminal Procedure were so wildly distorted as to kill any suspension of disbelief.  Note to courtroom drama writers: We’ve all watched twenty years of Law & Order.  You need to step up the writing if you want to succeed.
  • Terra Nova.  This series just lost us.  The pilot was serviceable and showed us the great potential the ideas behind this series had, but episodes quickly devolved into a weak combination of weekly world-destroying strawman threats (yawn) that just felt more and more incredibly contrived, and a confusing (and, IMO, un-needed) effort to create a dark, mysterious, earth-shattering plot with shadowy characters and alignments similar to the epic Lost.  The last two episodes we watched (in January) were literally painful to watch, mainly due to the largely wasted potential that a time-traveling colony in the Cretaceous era. WeI’ve heard that the last few episodes in this season showed promise, but we won’t be tuning in unless we hear some positive buzz on the show once it starts again in the fall.
  • The Killing.  This is the only show that Jason can remember where he actively rooted against it succeeding.  The first season treated viewers with such contempt for their intelligence, after a promising pilot and first couple of episodes, and that means any resolutions for the plot or characters are unimportant.

Hanging on by a Thread:

  • Once Upon a Time.  This one is still nabbed weekly by our DVR, but we missed a couple of episodes during the holidays and never bothered to get caught up again.  There was nothing really wrong with it; we were enjoying it–but other series (see below) bumped it from the tight nightly schedule.
  • Ringer.  See OUAT, above.  The ongoing soap opera gained momentum after the midseason, but ultimately fell victim to things that held our attention a little bit more.  Escalating outrageousness and cringe-inducing (in a good way!) plot twists raised the stakes for the series, so this one deserves a marathon to get caught up.
  • Falling Skies.  Our review of this summer series here at borg.com remains unchanged; we saw great potential, and though the series had its issues, it also had its positive aspects, and we’ll be tuning in this summer when episodes resume on TNT on June 17th at 9pm Eastern Time.  Hopefully the second season comes out with a bang and delivers on this series’ massive potential.  And you can catch a promising glimpse of the season opener here.
  • 30 Rock.  One of the favorites of past years, it isn’t at the top of viewing lists anymore, though if the episode focus is on Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, it can still be magic.  Because it only streams on his computer, it is tough for Jason to watch now.

So, what are the big winners this season at borg.com?

Lost Girl.  We are loving this lighthearted adult urban fantasy!  Satisfying world building based in European fairy lore combines with strong performances by the supporting cast to make this a weekly guilty pleasure.  It’s like Buffy for grownups–what Angel was trying to be, only done right.

Awake.  Launched in the same Thursday night time slot as The Firm, (which also hosted another fine debut series, Prime Suspect), this paranormal crime drama only gets better.  Jason Isaacs makes a compelling lead, and the series writers have wisely increased the genre stakes for the series, giving it extra pull.  They’re teasing the paranormal plot out very slowly, but when the moments hit, they pack a wallop.  We’re looking forward to seeing the mystery build.

Grimm.  Elizabeth’s personal favorite this season!  After a compelling pilot, this series has taken a while to get going.  But, as with Awake, they’re finally starting to really build the ongoing genre plot, adding complications to the established “monster murder of the week” formula.  New characters and a stronger focus on the otherworldly underbelly have given Grimm a much-needed boost, and we were happy to see that it’s been picked up for another season!  Friday nights just haven’t been the same without Chuck.  One thing we’d like to see more of, please: strong women characters.

New Girl.  C.J.’s favorite comedy of the past ten years and favorite series of the year.  He still cannot believe each episode is only a half an hour, since the writers crammed so much into each show.  Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is as put-upon as any classic female comedy lead in the Mary Richards variety, and is as brilliantly funny, smart and zany.  The supporting cast only got better throughout the first season, but the funny stories didn’t really explode with humor until they finally linked-up Max Greenfield’s Schmidt with Hannah Simone’s Cece.

Psych.  Still occupying the top spot in our must-watch lineup, the second half of the Psych season really delivered.  From beginning (the great season re-opener guest starring Cary Elwes) to end (that CLIFFHANGER!), with very few missteps in between (not sure what to make of “Let’s Do-Wop It Again,” with Shawn in the hospital and minus Keenan Thompson), all around, the show’s still got it.

The Walking Dead.  The second season of this series just got better and better, with deeper storylines, clever surprises, and a real aura of uncertainty around favorite characters survivability.  And the season finale was one of the best of the year (Michone!!!).  It’s the one series I simply cannot wait to resume in the fall.

Community.  This is Jason’s only show he will watch in real time.  The characters keep developing and adding depth and when the writers create a personality quirk, it is in service of character and not the story of the week.  He would visit the Greendale campus (and did as a background extra) to see all the characters, but attending Greendale would be the worst decision of his or anyone’s life except for those that want to learn to make a diorama.

House, M.D.  After Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) drove his car into Dr. Cuddy’s home we thought this series was pretty much done for.  We still had doubts that we’d need another season after House’s prison stint.  Then BAM!  This last season is on par with the best of its eight season run, especially because the writers have let Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) be Wilson, Chase (Jesse Spencer) be Chase, and Russian bride-in-name-only Dominika (Karolina Wydra) almost make it as House’s single perfect mate.  Although Charlene Yi and Odette Annable are fine as Drs. Park and Adams, the show still struggles with the one note Cameron/Thirteen replacement role.  We wish we had Amber Tamblyn back.  Although Omar Epps’s Dr. Foreman pretty much vanished, Peter Jacobson’s Dr. Taub continues to amuse to the bitter (?) end.

Fairly Legal.  Although we’ve fallen behind thanks to new diversions like Awake and Lost Girl, the sophomore season of this unusual, lighthearted legal drama continues to entertain. Star Sarah Shahi is cute and engaging (although we liked her better as a cynical cop in Life and as Gus’s adrenaline junkie girlfriend in a guest spot on Psych), even if her harried approach to life gets a little exhausting.  We’re hoping for a bigger role for Gerald McRaney this season.

In Plain Sight.  We’ve let the final season of this solid crime drama get backed up on our DVR, but from what we’ve seen so far, they’re going to round the series out nicely, with the same sharp dialogue and complex relationships that have given this series staying power despite a history of scheduling mishaps.  It’s nice to see Tangie Ambrose (Agent Parmalee) get a stronger role, Tia Carrere is always fun, and all things considered, I think everyone prefers baby Norah to Jinx and Brandi.

Parks and Recreation.  April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer and Ron Swanson continue to be three of the best characters on television.

A few other shows we’re thinking about, but haven’t mentioned here before:

  • Surburgatory. Jason has no clue what makes this interesting.  He laughs and that’s a big part.  The supporting cast (Alan Tudyk (Firefly), Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell (SNL) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is just so, goofy and fun. Mostly, it is earnest father and daughter relationship of the two leads, Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy.
  • Modern Family.  The second season of this award-winning series was side-splitting.  Better than the great comedic actors and fantastic use of the “mockumentary” format is the terrific writing of the scribes behind the show, particularly Jeffery Richman  & creator Steven Levitan. The stories of the three households making up the dysfunctional Modern Family intertwine effortlessly to create the funniest half-hour on network television.
  • CSI (Crime Scene Investigation).  After a dozen seasons in the bag and numerous cast changes, CSI could easily be slipping off of most people’s radar, especially with the mid-season exit of long-time favorite Marg Helgenberger.  And though it will never likely recover the viewership it enjoyed when William Peterson was on the cast, the new additions of Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue has been a breath of creative fresh air.  After missteps with recently departed cast, especially the badly conceived Dr. Ray Langston character portrayed by the excellent Lawrence Fishburne, the series seems to be back on an even keel and cranking out the crafty, clever alternative plotlines to the rote procedurals currently on the air everywhere else. Amen.
  • Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23.  Only four episodes in, but having James Van Der Beek play a cartoon version of himself, keeps paying funny dividends.  If that lasts, this will be a keeper.
  • Mad Men.  Jason got rid of his cable and finding this show in a legal manner can be tough, but he knows it is worth it.
  • Archer.  Jason says, “Give me the voice of H. Jon Benjamin in crazy spy situations or give me death!”
  • Bob’s Burgers.  Jason says, “Give me the voice of H. Jon Benjamin in crazy burger joint situations or give me death!”

Review by Art Schmidt

I dig summer shows. I like the trend the last several years of having a small set of summer shows on television that are quirky, different, and give you something to do on the few (!) days you aren’t out biking, vacationing, lounging by the pool or sizzling at the beach. And few summer shows since Monk debuted have grabbed my attention the way Falling Skies did.

As for the premise of this TNT series, which ran for ten episodes through the summer, it has some promise. The series starts approximately six months after the invasion, and the aliens have already kicked a large portion of the world’s ass. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when first learning about this, after all what’s an Earth Invasion story without the invasion part! But really, we’ve already had this past year Battle L.A. (standard alien army invasion), the newly re-spun V (standard aliens subverting human society from within), Super 8 (standard kids find aliens and save earth/it/both), and the Death Eaters invading Hogwarts (non-standard AWESOME!!!). So, I guess we’ve seen enough invading to slake that thirst for a while. Besides, the departure from the norm hinted at the potential of something new and innovative, and I bought in.

As far as standard science-fiction goes, it has several of my favorite sci-fi elements in it. Let’s go down the list, shall we?

1. Aliens Invade Earth? Check! A staple of mass-market science-fiction fare since its birth in the 1940s, this plot device comes chock-full of good, accessible dramatic elements.

– Humans being killed and persecuted? We humans can relate!

– Fighting against Earth’s military? Hey, we know someone who’s actually in that military!

– Taking over an Earth city? Hey, we ate at the Chili’s in that city once!

– Aliens blowing up famous landmarks? We know their significance and feel some emotion when they crumble (at least, we used to before ID4 and the host of movies that followed it blew up every major landmark known to man on a near-constant basis).

Irrelevant Tangent Warning: If ‘Blockbuster-Demolition-Fatigue’ isn’t already a term, then I just coined it. “What’s the matter, dude?” “Major BDF man.” “Bummer dude.” It even sounds like a mildly uncomfortable disease. Copyright 2011 🙂

BTW, you won’t get demo-fatigue from Falling Skies. If anything, there is a lack of combat and a deference for the human drama of the situation (more on that later). Just when you think there is going to be a big firefight or a confrontation with armed aliens, it doesn’t happen (like I said, more on that later). And then, when the humans argue amongst themselves, you might expect more bloodshed. But again, things are left un-resolved (Hey! I said more on that later!) Fine, Mister Bossypants.

2. Futuristic Weapons and Gizmos? Check! The alien invaders do not have hand-held weapons as we’ve come to expect; however, they have mechanical bi-pedal robots that escort them around and pack an enormous amount of firepower. They reminded me of the ED-209 from Robocop, but more sinister-looking and taller. Another departure from the norm, and after all, that’s what makes good Sci-Fi! At least, it’s a good start. The aliens also have biological devices that they use to control Earth children, as well, which the humans call ‘harnesses’, and this gives the aliens a form of telepathic control over the wearer. Oh, and one of their ‘mother ships’ landed in the middle of downtown Boston, and we’re told similar massive ships landed in most other major cities world-wide.

They serve as a base of operations for the Skitters and the airships, but what else are they for? What goes on inside? No one knows (yet)! Pretty cool stuff.

3. Space travel? Well, given that the series follows the Earth-bound human remnants who barely have working internal-combustion engine vehicles, there hasn’t been anything going on in space. Yet. However, given the cliffhanger ending (NO SPOILER) we may see some next season. ‘Nuff said.

4. Hot chicks? Check! Sorry, I meant highly intelligent, self-sufficient, alien-butt-kicking women who also happen to be attractive. Let’s face it, the guys in these things can look like average joes and they’re fine as long as they have a gun or can use a keyboard, but the gals have to be attractive. Seven-of-Nine. Number Six. Counselor Troi and Doctor Crusher. Zoe and Kaylee. Starbuck. Even President Roslin (a.k.a. First Lady Whitmore) qualifies as a cougar. Admiral Cain and Kendra Shaw, Replicants Rachael and Pris; the list goes on.

Falling Skies has done its part to keep the stereotype alive, casting not two but three very nice looking young ladies in the three female lead and supporting roles.

Moon Bloodgood (Terminator: Salvation, Burn Notice) is the militia unit’s resident doctor and main love interest of our hero, Tom Mason, played by an uncomfortably-scruffy Noah Wyle (ER, The Librarian TV movies, Donnie Darko). Sarah Carter (Shark TV series, Final Destination 2) plays Maggie, the standard tough-as-nails gun-toting chick with a chip on her shoulder and a secret past. And finally Seychelle Gabriel (The Last Airbender, The Spirit) plays the young Lourdes, assistant to the (Blood)good doctor in her duties, and with a secret crush on Hal Mason, Tom Mason’s oldest son played by Drew Roy (Secretariat, Hanna Montana TV series).

Plenty of drama abounds with these characters and the male leads, which brings us to…

5. Human drama? Check, but with an asterisk. We all know that shiny space ships, flashing lasers and leather-clad women will only keep an audience’s interest for so long. There has to be something going on with the characters other than fighting and dying. And that’s where Falling Skies starts to go amiss. All of the building blocks appear to be in place for some good human drama. The aliens are kidnapping children, some of whom belong to the folks in our little band of survivors, and the aliens are turning them into slaves. There is a small militia group protecting a larger civilian group who want more freedom and better conditions; the militia leadership is keeping the best for themselves. There are good guys and there are not-so-good guys, like the aptly-named John Pope, the self-centered opportunist with the potential for a heart of gold played well by Colin Cunningham (Stargate: SG-1, Elektra) who loves nothing more than devising ways to kill the ‘cooties’, as he calls the aliens.

Irrelevant Tangent Warning: Note to the Writers: Please stop making Pope call the aliens ‘cooties’. It’s not funny or cute after the first time. It makes Pope’s character who has otherwise shown himself to be quite clever and cunning suddenly seem like a third-grade drop-out. Then again, ‘Skitters’ isn’t much better…

Then there’s the leader of the 2nd Mass, Captain Weaver played by Will Patton (Armageddon, The Postman, Remember the Titans). The character has so much of the semi-crazy my-way-or-the-highway military man in him that it makes the few times he softens up (assisting in a breech birth!) seem weird and uncomfortable.

Like all new shows, the series is trying to find its footing, figure out what works for these characters and their strange situation and what doesn’t, and where they can take things that is fascinating and new without being strange and unwatchable. And they’ve stumbled a few times, and succeeded a few more, and I’m definitely tuning in next summer to see where things go from here. But the one major issue that ran through the entire first season is that there is no real sense of danger or urgency about the characters or their activities. They talk like the aliens are bad-ass, they conquered every country and every military on the planet, but you just don’t feel any of that fear, any of that menace.

Sure, when the aliens show up they fight and run, but when there are no aliens on screen the characters almost act as if the aliens can’t show up. They aren’t on edge, and though they walk briskly from place to place they don’t seem to understand that ALIENS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE ENTIRE WORLD! That’s the one major thing that has bothered me since the second episode; the characters don’t act like they are in near-constant danger of being captured or killed. It’s as if the aliens are in the city, and the humans are in the country, and that’s just fine with everyone. The civilians, the militia, everyone; they all just seem like things are hunky-dory and they’ll go attack the aliens when they’re good and ready.

In the last episode (MINOR SPOILER ALERT!) Mason and Weaver are standing inside Boston, alone and on foot, looking up at the aliens’ mother ship / headquarters. Mason aims an RPG at one of the smaller airships and hits it; an RPG which is not heat-seeking nor remote-guided, by the way. The damaged ship crashes into the mother ship and explosions begin inside of it. Two guys, alone, standing on the street where any alien could easily pop their heads off. Attacking the larger-than-an-aircraft-carrier mother ship. With an RPG. And they only had the one rocket.

I thought for a moment I was back in 1993 playing Doom on my 486 PC. I cringed as the characters laughed, and the explosions continued for a few seconds. Thankfully, the entire structure did not come crashing to the ground, because I would have immediately put a permanent block on my DVR for anything with the term ‘Falling Skies’ in it. Luckily, the show saved itself, at least in my eyes.

And yet, the two characters continued to stand there, smiling and talking about how they gave the aliens something to remember. As they did so, I thought about how the U.S. military would have immediately dispatched Apache attack helicopters full of armed marines to trace the smoke trail of that RPG back to its source and eliminate the enemy within minutes, if not seconds. You know, the U.S. military that these aliens over-powered with their even-more-advanced technology and weapons.

The one thing Falling Skies desperately needs in its sophomore season is someone running around screaming “The Sky is Falling! The SKY is FALLING!!” I’m no chef, but the producers might try throwing a little chicken in with all of that ham.