Review: Falling Skies Episode 3 – Prisoner of WarJune 27, 2011 at 9:09 am | Posted in Reviews, Sci-Fi, Television | 1 Comment
Tags: Falling Skies, scifi, TNT
Continuing our coverage of the sci-fi television show Falling Skies, last night’s episode Prisoner of War was good but a little slow. The big theme in the episode was the harnesses (the alien technology that renders children into slave laborers) and the new doctor who can hopefully remove them from the kids without killing them. Dr. Michael Harris is played by actor Steven Weber who you might recognize from the old tv show Wings or from the classic Vietnam war movie Hamburger Hill. I really liked Weber’s performance in Hamburger Hill, unfortunately his character Dr. Harris isn’t the most likable sort. He’s a pessimist and as a doctor he doesn’t show the most care and concern for his patients. Regardless he did well with the part and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the character in future episodes.
Speaking of character development, Colin Cunningham’s character John Pope had a slightly comical part while Noah Wyle’s role turned into a total badass…for a moment or two. In the previous episode, Pope was taken prisoner by the resistance. In Prisoner of War, which in a way would include him too, he’s subjected to some foul tasting food and reveals that in his past life he was a chef, not a cook mind you, but a true chef. The little twist is done in such a way that is humorous and begins to grant Pope some freedom. It looks like this might be his first step toward joining the team and becoming a resistance fighter, but we’ll have to wait and see.
With the humor aside, Wyle’s character Tom Mason didn’t have very many lighthearted scenes. When he wasn’t searching for his boy whose been turned into a slave by alien invaders, he was dealing with Dr. Harris and allegations of whose to blame for his wife’s death or the loss of more people. Somewhere in that torrent of emotion and repressed anger, Tom goes total warrior and ventures out into no man’s land to take down a skitter (one of the six legged alien invaders) by himself with nothing more than a double barrel shotgun, some rope, and a flashlight. For me it was the highlight of the episode because I love seeing the warrior spirit in action. The whole rope thing had me thinking of Boondock Saints in the scene where Sean Patrick Flanery is surrounded by an arsenal of guns and wants some rope. You never know when it might be handy.
Although the drama with Tom trying to get his kids back and dealing with the still lingering pain of his wife’s death slowed things down, one thing that really stood out was the special effects for the skitters. Now the skitter’s mechs are stiff heavy CGI that look a little fake (though to be honest the CGI mechs don’t detract from the show that much since it is a tv show and you’re already expecting special effects on that level) but the skitters themselves looked to be honest to goodness puppets, and I mean that in a good way. Too often you see Hollywood relying on CGI to do everything, when a good physical creature would do wonders. In this case the skitters looked like physical creatures and the result made them appear real. Furthermore they didn’t look like cheap puppets. The skitters were on par with the xenomorphs in Aliens or the attackers in Independence Day. They were slimy, agile, and a bit creepy. Altogether they did a great job in making the thing look like a breathing, moving, living creature. They even went to the detail of having various parts of its face lift and fall as it made facial expressions. It was very well done.
I’m certainly looking forward to the next episode which will be on TNT, Sunday at 9 PM CDT. Although I loved the special affects for the skitters and the way Tom turned into a warrior, overall the episode was still a little drama ridden for my tastes, so I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5 metal bikinis.