Can Falling Skies Fly Where Other ET-Invasion Dramas Have Crashed? Noah Wyle Thinks So

As the star of TNT’s much anticipated Falling Skies, Noah Wyle wasn’t looking to front TV’s definitive alien invasion series. In fact, he says he has seen neither V, The Event, nor The Walking Dead (if one wants to stretch the definition). No, he was just looking for a bit of therapy.

“The one thing [my time on] ER afforded me is financial security to use my work more as catharsis than anything else,” the alum of the beloved medical drama tells TVLine with a small, self-effacing laugh. “And [Falling Skies] had a couple of themes that have resonance with where I’m at right now in my life, that I thought were interesting explore. Fatherhood, leadership, loss, grief…. All this kind of stuff has been swirling around me lately.”

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Launching this Sunday at 9/8c with a two-hour opener, Falling Skies stars Wyle as Tom Mason, a history professor and member of the 2nd Massachusetts, a band of humans plotting to at least survive in the wake of a profoundly successful alien invasion. Widowed six months prior during the initial assault, Tom is now keeping an eye out for his MIA middle child, Ben (who has been enslaved by the “skitters” via an extraterrestrial spinal tap dubbed a “harness”), while watching over his other sons, Hal and Matt. Among the series’ ensemble, Moon Bloodgood (Day Break) plays Anne Glass, a doctor who lost her only child during the attack, while Will Patton (Armageddon) is Captain Weaver, the suffer-no-fools leader of the 2nd Mass.

Armed with his knowledge of historical battles and stratagem, Tom labors to earn Weaver’s respect and thus lead missions, though his gut instincts often put his reports face-to-face with the skitters and their hardcore, machine gun-toting kin, called “mechs.” All of which leads us to another reason Wyle enlisted for this Steven Spielberg-produced adventure. “It’s the most physical, dynamic character I’ve ever been offered to play,” the actor notes. “And any opportunity I have to saddle up alongside Mr. Spielberg, I’ll take it!”

Versus, say, ABC’s recent V reboot –- which was very “blue sky” in comparison to Falling Skies‘ decidedly grey forecast –- the TNT drama finds a compelling reality amid the unreal circumstance of aliens dominating Earth. Sure, there are visceral shoot-outs and chase scenes involving the ETs, but it’s always preceded by strategic initiatives (for example, a foraging for food stuffs or defensible harbor), and book-ended by totem-pole jockeying between Weaver’s army and the civilians they protect but are loath to cede comfortable quarters to.

Accounting for the campsite drama and tension, Wyle says, “You can’t blow your post-production budget in every episode, otherwise you get very little bang for your buck. So if you can save it up, then you can have some pretty epic set pieces. But what you fill those other episodes up with has to be another source of conflict, and being able to focus on the interpersonal differences between a bunch of disparate individuals -– a history professor, a pediatrician, a biker — trying to come together for a common good provides that.”

Previewing Tom’s crossing of swords with Weaver, Wyle says the men will slowly build to a place of “begrudging respect, where our areas of commonality become interesting.” Sometime thereafter, however, “our ideological differences clash again.”

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But enough about the humans. What’s it going to take to fend off the skitters and mechs, if not one day send them packing? Can viewers expect a big “a-ha” moment where the 2nd Mass stumbles upon their formidable foes’ Achilles heel? (Cue Jeff Goldblum uploading a computer virus to the mothership?)

Were it so easy. “It’s less of an ‘a-ha moment ‘and more strands of loose information that we gather episode to episode,” Wyle says. “And when we find ourselves in a defensible situation and are able to take a pause, we will analyze all this stuff and come up with a probable solution.”

The operative word being probable. As Wyle teases, “The more we learn, the more we learn we don’t really know” what’s going down on Earth.

Made curious by Wyle’s cryptic words, we have to ask: Is Falling Skies one of those instances where aliens pigeonholed as malevolent marauders are actually misunderstood, homesick ETs? That’s one twist Wyle is willing to dismiss.

“That’d be a long shot given the fact that they just killed 80 percent of the world population,” he points out. “Yeah, there would be a bit of a grudge to work through before we can begin any dialogue with them.”

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  1. Leithen says:

    I saw this panel last year at Comic-Con, and they seemed to have put a lot of work into it. What I saw was slightly reminiscent of War of the Worlds. I’ll watch for Moon Bloodgood, if for nothing else.

  2. luke says:

    hey if Moon Bloodgood is in it, I’ m WATCHING.

  3. Jason says:

    Sarah Carter and Moon Bloodgood will help ease the pain caused by the lack of Game of Thrones and The Killing.

  4. Steven says:

    Not to mention Invasion.

  5. Kamil says:

    I’m really excited for this series, I think Noah will be great.

  6. JC says:

    Everything I’ve read about Falling Skies leads me to believe it has more in common with The Walking Dead than with V. (Or the movies Battle: LA or Skyline.) That is, the show is not about the event itself (the invasion), but how people survive after the event. And I’m glad for that. I’m much more interested in a show about relationships between fully developed characters than show about people running through the streets shouting “the aliens are coming!”

  7. Eli says:

    I was planning to watch this anyway, but knowing now Sarah Carter is in it just moved it beyond the point of any doubt.

  8. George Williamson says:

    Noah Wylie thinks? Noah Wylie? In the last decade there has been five if not more survival in a post-apocalyptic world TV series and movies, nearly all have been borderline watchable or totally unwatchable. Despite the Spielberg endorsement (which is about all that is worth), I see more angst with an overdose of sad characters, driving an audience thirsty for the escapist aspect of sci-fi into refilling their Prozac prescriptions. Hope I’m wrong. If you want serious angst with some intelligent heft, watch “Children of Men.” At least “The Walking Dead” doesn’t take itself too seriously with its tinge of satire and that makes it engrossing.

  9. Terry says:

    Loved Moon Bloodgood in Journeyman so I’ll be watching.

  10. Lorie says:

    I’ll give it a shot.

  11. craptv says:

    Boring piece of cow crap. Get some eye candy and maybe the show will have a chance.

  12. Guybrush says:

    I was extremely disappointed in this show. Why was every person in the army a white male? An exceptionally boring white male, for that matter? Also the civilian/military thing makes no sense. When you’re fighting for survival, you don’t have 100 soldiers and 200 civilians- you have 300 soldiers, some who are more capable then others.

    • Megafly says:

      It’s suburban Boston. I’m no expert, but in my experience, suburbs tend to be…less ethnically diverse. They established that those who lived in the city centers were killed early.

    • Beth says:

      I don’t think you were paying attention. Two of Wyle’s group were black. And so was the leader of the other group of 300 who were sent in a different direction. There were lots of black people in the group pictures. You must have had some kind of “I see whites only” glasses on when watching.

  13. vjw says:

    I plan on watching this, but honestly, I’d rather watch Noah Wylie reprise his role in The Librarian movies.

  14. Alienate says:

    Yuck! I forced myself to watch all 2 hours of this pile of dung.
    I won’t be watching it any more. Life is too short to waste it on drivel with non-interesting, nay, annoying characters.

    Bring on Risolli & Isles as well as The Closer!