Falling Skies' Season 2 Premiere: A Lopsided Return

Falling Skies S02E01 & S02E02: "Worlds Apart" & "Shall We Gather At the River"

There are generally two opinions on TNT's Falling Skies, and they go something like this:

Sci-fi fan #1: Whoa this is awesome alien invasion OMG!!!
Sci-fi fan #2: What the frak is this garbage?

I'm here to tell you that I fall somewhere in the middle (cop-out alert!). But I have reasons because I can see both sides of the argument. Superfans ignore the show's problems (the writing), and haters don't appreciate what does work (the production). I don't think there's a more frustrating show on television for me than Falling Skies, because it is constantly knocking on the door of fulfilling its potential but can't quite get there because of a ball-and-chain of mediocrity that's holding it back. That leaves it in this horrible limbo where we can't decide whether to hang on or just let go.

But Season 2 is here, and tonight's two-hour premiere revealed that Falling Skies has been working out in the off-season, because it once again inched closer to being something good. Unfortunately, the execution still just wasn't there. I generally think of television as comprised of two individual components: what goes on the page and what comes out on the screen. Watching an episode of Falling Skies is a regular exercise in alternating exhilaration and eye-rolls, because one side simply isn't doing its job.

The first muscle Falling Skies flexed in Season 2 was its new look, and it's a very welcome makeover. With the school fort a thing of the past and the survivors essentially a gang of nomads with .50-caliber guns, there's bleakness to their situation. In Season 1, their backs were against the wall, but at least they HAD walls. Now there are no walls, just an expanse of the unknown and threats all around (or so they tell us). And that comes across in the much darker look and feel of the series, as opposed to the summer-school atmosphere of Season 1's safe haven.

There must have been a memo passed around the TNT offices with "MORE ACTION AND MORE ALIENS" in all-caps across the top, because the bullets were flyin'! I'm pretty sure the first two hours of Season 2 had more of both than the entire first season. This isn't rocket surgery; include more aliens and action and our dopamine will flow a bit faster. You won't hear me complaining about more action and aliens, especially with Falling Skies, because if the show is giving us aliens and action, then it's not trying to give us character stories. Sometimes we just want to see mean old aliens get what's coming to them, and right now that's all Falling Skies is. As for the quality of its effects, it's important to remember that this is a television series and those who think the effects suck need to hold television and its manic production schedule to a different standard. Of course it's not going to look as good as Prometheus. If we get eight more episodes where the quality of effects matches what we saw tonight, I'll be happy. Green screens FTW! And coupling the effects with the calmer, exterior post-apocalyptic scenes actually works quite well. Until NBC's Revolution debuts, there won't be any other show that really looks like this. And who doesn't love the long, tracking one-take shots that director Greg Beeman is so fond of?

As for what actually happened, well there's Falling Skies' biggest problem. Storytelling and characterization are still not the show's strong suit, and probably never will be. The first two episodes were a bit messy in setting up this season's overarching storylines, crowding the space with general ideas instead of spending more time on developing important ones.

One of the core plots of the early going will be what the aliens did to Tom during his incarceration, and I just don't believe for a second that Tom would freak out and ask to be restrained just because he had a bad dream about an alien trying to make out with him in his sleep (that was the dream, right?). The writers are laying it on real thick with this one, and they're doing so with other characters' opinions rather than evidence that we, the audience, can process. It's almost as if they're just trying to get that part or the story out of the way so they can get to the next part, whatever that may be. But come on, Tom asking to be tied up because he thinks he may be influenced by aliens and could be a threat to the resistance is just crazy talk. The only thing I can think of is that Tom may have picked up a bondage fetish on the alien ship. Here's a solution for the survivors: Keep a close eye on him! Make Dai watch his ass while Tom continues to be the badass hero he's supposed to be. Let him clear everything with Weaver first. If Tom suggests taking all the kids for a picnic near an alien base, then hogtie him. There's no point in restraining him like he's on a diet and there are cupcakes in the fridge until there's evidence he needs to be.

Anyway, one thing this sketchy writing does allow us to play a game of, "What was the purpose of that?" In a flashback in the first episode, Tom came across that filthy girl with the motorcycle, saved her from some hobo, and then rode with her to meet up with the 2nd Mass. In the process, she served up a sliver of a backstory to complement her bad attitude. But just as Tom heard his buddies fighting aliens, she took off. So we're done with her? What was the purpose of that? Later, in real-time, Tom was still out in the medical truck when word arrived that a convoy of Mechs was approaching. The truck couldn't move, because it would cut the power to what was keeping Tom stable, so a few people stayed behind to make sure the Mechs don't kill Tom. Then the Mechs walked by without noticing them, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and the truck drove back to meet up with the rest of the group. Say it with me, "What was the purpose of that?" And what about the fiberglass engine-wraps to keep the engines from showing up on alien's heat sensors (that the resistance just assumed the aliens had)? That problem was solved awfully fast... so fast it wasn't even really a problem yet. Everybody: "What was the purpose of that!?" I'm all for accepting that these moments could mean something later on, but good writing means that viewers will never ask, "What was the purpose of that?"

And there's got to be a better way of setting up a broken bridge than the one the writers settled on. Our survivors arrived at a bridge they needed to cross. It was in fine condition. But then a spaceship came flying by and Dai shot it down, blowing up the bridge in the process. Shouldn't these folks be solving problems they encounter instead of problems they cause? And not even a "My bad!" from Dai. Come on Dai, take some responsibility! Right now the members of the 2nd Mass should be more scared of their own incompetence than they are of the aliens. How are we supposed to root for these guys when they're the ones they need to watch out for?

If the time spent on these writing missteps had gone toward making Tom's self-restraint more plausible, the season opener would have been much better. Instead, we got a ton of half-stories. Effective television writing can't simply be "this happened then this happened then this happened," but that's how Falling Skies is treating it. Some of these threads could become compelling, as some of the show's choices have been great (getting everyone out of the school, the slowly unfolding alien hierarchy), but Falling Skies is tripping over its own feet trying to get there.

Ben's situation is the only thing that has any oomph so far. He's a total badass now (how rad was he in the opening sequence of the first episode?) and even looks more like a man this season (better posture, cropped hair instead of flowing locks) than before. The harness thing and its effects on the kids is the best thing about the show's story right now: Ben is become some sort of super soldier, while Rick, who is someplace somewhere probably jumping over things and climbing walls, developed completely different. And then there's Karen, who is literally a mouthpiece for the aliens.

Falling Skies probably has one of the most lopsided production-to-writing relationships on television, and that's frustrating. Based on these first two episodes, it appears that the production continued to get better during the off-season, while the writing stayed steady. But shows are more sustainable when that relationship is reversed. With more attention on action, aliens, and ambiance, Falling Skies should pick up a few more loyal fans, but without the proper scribes, it will never be great. And that's a shame.



Notes

– Will someone please give Anne (and pretty much everyone) something to do other than patch people up? I get the feeling she's getting bored with just being eye candy. However, if I were on this show I would probably hurt myself repeatedly just to spend time getting treated by Anne and Lourdes.

– The alien threat needs to feel more real. Right now, they show up when it's convenient for the story.

– There are a LOT of great television scores out there right now, but Falling Skies' isn't one of them.

– I hope Tom gave that Skitter pink eye through that eye worm. And it looks like next week's episode will start with an ambush.

– Big thumbs down on the "fake-out" of the blown-up bridge and Tom's demise. How stupid do they think we are? Stop it, Spielberg!

– "Tick... tick... boom." Adorable!

– I wonder how many takes it took Colin Cunningham, who plays Pope, to say the line "When life hands you lemons, you blow their friggin' heads off!" Bleh! Makes me squirm just typing it.

– How awesome is Jimmy's new Bieber-fied hairdo? It's extra left-to-right now!


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Yes this was a bumpy episode and their were a lot of faults, but for the moment I'm gonna try and focus on the good points. I like that the series has a much darker tone than before and I hope this soon effects the dialogue. Some of it is so cheesy I just burst out laughing! The most enjoyable part of the episode was that long, one take shot. I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed. Let's just hope from now on the show starts to get some better writing and focusing on the over-arching storyline more.
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maybe it was just me but i thought pope talked about the ships being the ones that sweep looking for heat way back in season 1. which worked out in him being captured the first time. after causing some damage to one of the structures the aliens are probably stepping up their game a little which means the need to start hiding more things like engine heat and so on. yes there are holes and things that make me scratch my head but given time all things can be dealt with. so i will keep coming back looking for the big pay off.
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Watching it now feels like a chore (or punishment). Someone please shoot Ben in the back and get it over with. He is going to turn into a skitter.
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The writers made up for a lot. They killed off Jimmy. That actor sucked and the character sucked even more and his face made me want to kick the screen every time I saw it. Anne, the doctor's assistant? Even more annoying... no one wants to hear some stupid babyfaced naieve dumb girl talk about God. They took away her lines so far in the 2nd season.



Good job there. Tom is more badass now... good job... his oldest son, I forget his name, needs to do more. All he does is give these half-assed attempts at trying to give a speech and ends up just acting like he's posing for a stupid CW poster for a bad tween show. Ben, the Captain, and Pope are the only ones written right.



The doc, she's hot, but she's just gonna patch holes. No one cares about her stupid dead husband whose birthday it was in tonight's episode. It gave her character a reason to cry. Wow, who cares... chalk that up on her resume... can cry on que. Good job. Now move on... The writers need to pick it up... they're getting there, but I honestly thought this was canceled after season 1.
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Let me putit this way: bad writing = me leaving, it doesn't matter the special effect.
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You must not be familiar with more-than-one-episode story-lines. Watch for the motorcycle girl to reappear in a later episode. It also gave him a chance to show the kindness/ empathy side of his character. Which may set him/current humans apart from our past. Remember the conversation with the alien? (Or maybe he just needed a way back to Mass.) Why did the aliens march past the convoy hospital bus? Hmm, maybe for the same reason Tom was the only released captive NOT to be killed in that field in Minnesota. The aliens have some use for him apparently. To be revealed in a later episode. The fiberglass issue may be to cover a really glaring error: Wouldn't an advanced technology race be able to find motorized resistance by heat signatures? Had to fix that issue somehow. I do agree they need better writers, less cliched writing. They are developing the boys characters but they need to do more with the good actors they have just playing scenery. Example: Moon Bloodgood, Colin Cunningham, etc.
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Someone please put a Ron Moore show back on television, didn't "Blood and Chrome" get an order from SyFy? -- he had much less money than this show does and he has always solved production and story (since he was telling a strangely similar story with a much better thought out and written enemy). I feel bad that this cast has to suffer such utter crap dialogue and inability to just tell a compelling story. The writing kills this show.
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I actually liked these first two episodes. Some irrelevant parts, like the girl on the motorcycle in the beginning, and the fiberglass insulation, I had completely forgotten about by the end, so that didn't bother me at all. there were other exciting parts I enjoyed. I mean, this show is not Fringe, but we could be stuck with another show of girls, in their mid-twenties or high school vampires or what, so I'm glad there still some science fiction on TV.



By the way if you want to check more of Colin Cunningham's (Pope) fantastic work, check the Canadian show The Collector, in which he plays the Devil himself.
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They never said how they coped with the heat from the exhaust pipes on the vehicles...
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or the heat from the radiators, or the air cooled dirt bikes. But if the Aliens wanted they could detect the heat given off by just the human body.



That said, I hope this lasts many more seasons, we lost V, The Event, Stargate et al and Fringe only gets 13 episodes.

I say get rid of the Animation and get back to real shows, with real actors.
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I've tried... I have really tried and had hope too. We have to be realistic here: Mech units from "Robocop", aliens from "Close Encounter..." and "Alien" like (mixed with "Predator"'s and other creatures we've seen), tracker bug from "The Matrix", a plot that reminds us of the series "V" (which they did after the second part of the original mini-series), this show doesn't bring much new stuff to the genre. What's left is the story telling and, there, I have to agree with you Tim. It took two hours to advance the story to "they have crossed a bridge". First seasons are always slow but, man, this is season 2!



Everybody knew that Tom was dreaming in the sequence at beginning of the second hour, Everybody also knew that he wasn't dead after they blew the bridge... Why do writers keep pulling out those overused "cliches" on us? I can't believe Spielberg put his name on that. (Easy money I guess...)



The show is not bad, but it is not "Wow!" either. If this show gets more seasons it is simply because it runs during the summer when there's nothing much going on. Probably why I'll keep watching also (until I get bored). Most similar attempts (alien invasion/resistance) have not lasted more than 2-3 seasons anyway. These shows seem to rely solely on the CGIs to get the audience and they mostly lack in the story telling aspect. This one is no exception. They should have made a movie and just get on with it.
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Still don't want to watch it...
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Really, banging on Tim is all you got. And if you're watching this space junk clunker then how much could you possibly know. Tim got the Fringe finale spot on and he's pretty good...
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Ugh...how droll...flamebait much?



Cite some examples or don't bother commenting.
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Also that sadistic Skitter with one red-eye was so creepy!
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"I just don't believe for a second that Tom would freak out and ask to be restrained just because he had a bad dream about an alien"



That's not the only reason. He must also be wondering why the aliens let him go when they killed every other human who had been on the ship. (It's weird that they killed the others, because whatever they did to him to make him valuable, they could have done it to the others too).



"Here's a solution for the survivors: Keep a close eye on him!"



That makes more sense than tying him up. But they should be very concerned that he's carrying some sort of tracker, and keeping an eye on him isn't going to solve that problem. This should have been a concern right away, not half-way through the second episode, where they could dismiss it with a comment about how they would all have been dead already if the aliens had been tracking him.
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I thought Terra Nova was bad... I had completely forgotten about Falling Skies....
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and yet at least they had the good sense to put Terra Nova out of its misery after a partial season.
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The first two episodes of the season were pretty fun to watch. I basically agree with the sentiments of this article and those of some of the previous commenters. I like the fact that there's more action, because for the most part, it just makes it more fun to watch. Without the action the show would be non-stop eye-rolling. The fake-outs suck. The show needs to be able to create or portray drama without those stupid fake-outs. So far, the writing is almost as lame as Alcatraz or Terra Nova... but at the very least, the pacing, the action, and overall production seems to be significantly better.
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Anyone else think the board of photos of the dead seemed a little like Battlestar Gallactica? This show wishes it was BG, sadly it's not even Walking Dead. It's still SyFy though so, I'll be sticking with it.
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The only reason why "more action" is a good thing in this show is that all they do when they're not blowing stuff up is to sit around and talk about how life sucks now, and in what ways it's still good. If the writers had been able to give them better things to talk about (like strategy, alien tech, what's going on at other locations, etc.) then their conversations would be more interesting than pointless fights like the one at the start of the first episode. It's hard to care about some fight when we don't even know what the mission is.



I hated these episodes by the way. Their storytelling technique needs a lot of work. For example, by showing what happened on the ship in flashbacks, they completely removed all the tension and excitement from those scenes. The rest of the first episode was just a boring fight and some boring conversations. The storytelling was slightly better in the second episode, but I still found myself wanting to fast forward through most of it.
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The core of the show's success lies with a single trope and this where it is extremely weak. This trope is why and to what purpose are they using children of Earth? Otherwise, Thanthe man's comment is dead on. We are not seeing the Aliens using the the planet's resources or trying to get a collaborator's regime going as in "V". What we have seen is genuine emotional concern of an Alien to children under its guard, so this is the only object of interest to the Alien overlords. They think it's worth traveling thousands of light years for that purpose.

Ben is obviously presented as an Alien child escapee and having superior human reflexes and strengh. So we can ask whether the Alien overlords are seeking Terran Janissaries? Even the offer and the arguments of the Alien overlord to Tom seem to beg the human response to be that as a species they are more resilient than maybe others in the known worlds. Instead, the human response through Tom is one of resistance without attempting the understanding the underlying "psychological" motivations of the Invasion.

From what I can gather now, the Alien overlords are in a long standing warfare with another species and wants to create on Earth a base of operations and maybe enlist the humans into this fight. In which case, the whole Invasion is some kind of test to see whether the human beings of earth can survive this war. The fact that out of anyone the Alien overlord wanted to discuss with, was a historian seem to be a major key to what is really going on and then the ensuing release and death of fellow captors with Tom takes another light than mere agression.
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I like the complexities you are reading into the show. However, I'm don't think most people would "get" it at the level your talking about. The masses want a "they want our gold", or "they need our water" answer to why the aliens are here. But we can always cross our fingers and hope that it's a bit more complex than that. Like Tom said, if they are so advanced to come all this way, surely there is more going on up there in their brains than just "kill, destroy, conquer."
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Whats going on the head's of the writers is probably a more important question.
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THe problem with the writing for me comes down to this: You have a bunch of super advanced alliens who brought down the entirety of earth but are for some reason struggling with a few american survivors. All the problems you mention come from this, because the core concept of the show is flawed. Am I supposed to believe that the alliens who travellled a gazillion miles to get here aren't advanced enough to detect people hiding in buildings? Or am I supposed to beleieve that they can't carpet bomb the areas where they suspect the rebells are because what, they like trees and stuff?
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We've heard them refer to thermals... that the humans assume the aliens target based on heat. Hence why in the Pilot they said to keep splitting up (they kept tuning for lesser heat and picking up the communities). Any that lighting a car on fire (especially at night) would bring the ships over.



Carpet bombing was brought up in the past. Their initial strike... and the events between S1 and S2 apparently had them carpet bombing.
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The US military kicked Saddam Hussein army's ass in thee weeks, yet took 5+ years to fight an underground insurgency. Tom said they wanted to make the cost of occupation to high, so the aliens would leave. Sound familiar?
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Although I agree with both your guys' comments until a certain point, I highly doubt that killing a couple of skitters and a mech once a week as well as a very small base once a season qualifies as a high cost of occupation, when you consider that they have drones taking over the entire planet. Also as far as detection capability goes, I was thinking more like: "there are 20 life forms over there, 5 females 10 males, 5 children captain" than "I'm picking up heat signatures, let's check it out". Alliens who have mastered interstellar travel and telepathy and such should detect stuff the former way.

All that being said, you guys made me understand the other side of the argument a little better.
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Although I think the show is completely terrible ... they did explain this in the first episode. There were a bunch of "motherships" that arrived. I remember someone mentioning that if they came back, they're done. So, that explains why they were able to take out most of the military, yet (now) a bunch of people that can't shoot straight can cause so much trouble.
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It's called Guerilla warfare and it works. I just wish they'd show where they found all the weapons.

The should also have them find a COG (Continuity of Government bunker, fully stocked with weapons, food, clothing, bedding and secure underground. They are scattered all over the USA.

To the producers keep up the great work, I personally am sick of reality shows. You make then, I'll buy them.

Just wish you'd air them on Space channel in Canada.
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I'm really enjoying this season 2 premiere. AWESOME for the alien parts, it's getting interesting because more action !!!
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both episodes were fantastic. edge of my seat almost the whole time.
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Where is this show supposed to take place? Boston? Not from there, but is there a mountain range in the area? Anyone notice that in the background when Pope pulled his gun on everyone? Should that have been there or did they move on to where there would be mountains in the area?
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It was in Boston, but when Tom got back with the girl on the motorcycle he found out they left Boston, Now they are somewhere southwest of Boston. I forget where but he did say it when he followed their trail or what not to find them
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Tom was dropped off in Michigan, the aliens killed the oyher ship passengers to make a point. Tom found the 2nd Mass. in Conneticut or around there.
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Yeh, when they dropped off Tom he eventually found a town and said he in another state. Hence it taking him 3months to make his way back.
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its great entertainment...if u dont like it turn the damn channel.....that simple
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Speilberg brain now=Lucas brain
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Troll much??
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Spielberg has been terrible for longer than most realize. He wanted Toht "to be a cyborg, with a metal arm that could transform into a flamethrower and machine gun"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indiana_Jones_characters



I still don't get why everything thinks he's so amazing and watches his crap with such rose colored glasses.
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CANCEL THIS CRAP
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Don't like it, go back to watching Top Model, Apprentice, or The Bachelor. Leave the Sci-Fi shows alone please.
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you know what i do with shows i don't like? i don't watch them. give it a try, may save you some stress.
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Yeah, but we have to watch it before we know we don't like it...
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absolutely true, but it seems this person has watched season one and thought it sucked then came back for season two and thought it sucked more. if you don't care for a show you can call for it to be cancelled or you can just stop watching it, no?
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He probably hoped it would get better as many of us did... Still, it is not the worst, somehow entertaining, and, there isn't much else to watch.



I guess everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. ;o)
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This show Sucks worse than season one.
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THEN STOP WATCHING IT AND WHINING ABOUT IT.
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Poor script.. specially 'cause i'm sick of seeing advanced alien civilizations that behave like stupid sissy comic villians... but i have to admit that with all that action it was pretty fun to watch. At least this time we didn't get that annoying family scene of the cast looking the kid play around...
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I keep toying with: what if the aliens are being benevolent. Like they're causing one calamity to stop an even bigger one. Either to earth itself or the galaxy.



Perhaps that skitter crushing the globe last season wasn't a threat, but a warning of what they're trying to stop.
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I wouldn't look too much into big-picture sci-fi stuff on Falling Skies. I think you may get disappointed.
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It will be nice if it end up in that way... it's senseless b.e. to fight in guerrillas if u can just bomb the planet from outside.. i hate this kind of cliches, the kind of seen argue that make this just another regular superficial ci-fi show.. i't need more script, humans beyond the regular existentialism (no more "teen" sex plz).. more inhuman behavior from the aliens and a little bit of gore..
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Great return to this awesome family scifi series! I had my doubts but the action has me hooked.
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Tom's self-restraint was perfectly acceptable. He didn't want to risk hurting anyone, and he knew that his escape from the aliens seemed too easy, so they probably had something planned for him. You are way off base with that one Tim.
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I thought they let him go so he suffers the consequences of his decision.
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Agreed. The let him go, while still killing others that also refused to push the surrender. Heck, his TORTURER let him go.

The aliens have super-advanced tech that can remote control people

Anyone with half-a-brain would be concerned and not trust themselves
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Aside from the critter in his eye, I believe they also let him go to be, or bring, a message to others when they killed the rest from the ship, but not him. It was a warning to him, as well. I think they saw him as the most important to do so.
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I think the aliens let him go and didn't kill him, because he's from the 2nd Mass - who i assume are the biggest surviving rebel group giving them trouble at the moment - so they sent their little worm to find out more abt them.
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Admittedly, I was skeptical when in the first 60 seconds of the 2nd season Pope announced that "when life gives you lemons, blow it's freaking head off"... my eyes rolled so hard I nearly burst a blood vessel, but it picked up and I enjoyed the premiere. The scene with the eye worm, spy device thing was pretty disturbing so I applaud the show for going there. They set up enough interesting plots to keep me interested.
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We saw that in "The Matrix" but it was in the bellybutton instead of the eye.

Nothing new here.
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Yeah, I remember the scene, but parasitic creatures crawling around under the skin or especially in someone's eye is always going to make me squirm. I just found it interesting that this show would go that route and do it so well.
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So glad a battle-with-aliens scifi show is keeping the soap-drama drivel down. The winged-burrowing parasite was AWESOME! I might have missed something, but why didn't Noah jump off the bridge as he was yelling to blow it now? Well, then Noah's son wouldn't have a good excuse to punch crazy biker out LOL
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Wow that was longer than i thought it would be. Sorry.
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Now I enjoy the show. However I have the same issues and a little more than you do TIm. My first issue is with the whole Tom and the Aliens bit. That was a moment that could have used some fantastic dialogue and it seemed trite and cliche. Now I get where the writers are coming from and they were heading in the right direction. But I think they should have flushed that moment out a bit more. There was a reason why they chose Tom, he is an academic like them and they felt he would be best to talk to. But one conversation, I would have much preferred an honest and lengthy dialogue to half of the CGI that they had in both of the episodes. A conversation like that doesn't happen in alien movies because people want action. But I would have more appreciated a expanded talk about why they shouldn't treat us like we would treat them. I think that would be an amazing conversation that few shows and even movies could pull off and they dropped the ball. For Shame. And with that dropping of the ball even though they have trimmed the fat of the show a bit, they could have turned it more The Walking Dead instead of Terra Nova and Alcatraz.



Now the whole Tom thing. They obviously have plans for Tom and they basically told him that when they shot everyone in the field but him. They didn't do that simply because they are dicks. They did it to emphasize a point and that point is you are ours. Your life is our gift to you and we have plans for you. Now a further showing of that could be his stand on the bridge and how he didn't get hit. Which you can attribute that to he is the hero of the story or that he isn't to be touched. After all he has scarface skitter watching him and tracking him with the new bug bot. Also, how does Lourdes not run screaming to tell people that the little bug/ball bearing escaped in such a manner from such an object that it could only logically be deduced that it in itself is higher intelligence. But back to Tom. And the scarface skitter, they have plans for him. Perhaps his whole family.



Ben. While I don't like Ben as a character. I think it is way to predictable. Ben is still linked to the aliens. Ben unlike Rick is fighting it. The spikes are in him for good, they are linked with his genes, and he can fight it, but only for so long. He is going to go back and forth between being the savior and informer or saboteur until he is forced or compelled to pick a side and since the spikes aren't coming out any time soon. My guess is he is going to go to other side. The aliens practically told Tom that. They can call him back anytime they want to. The reason he is going to be worse than Rick is that the group has come to rely on him and trust him way too much.



The rest. I think a character like Pope is being wasted on silly one liners and being the go to antagonist of the group. I think a team of him and Tom are far more formidable than Weaver. I understand why they are writing him the way that they are. Which is probably because Tom and Pope would simply outweigh Weaver. Both characters are more compelling. And I still can't get over the stupidity of the whole Weaver pill popping episode from last season. Hal and Margaret need to have sex or not. The whole flirtation back and forth will get tedious. If it were up to me I would kill off Matt and Jimmy. Did they learn nothing from Terra Nova? No kids. Kids are lame, they get in the way and are foolish. Be great drama that is slightly dark or be a kid friendly show. Terra Nova proved that you can't be both.



Now for the good parts. I kind of like the new mystery behind the aliens. Why offer an encampment to an inferior species. Is it just going to be a zoo for little kiddie aliens to go look at. A place for experiment? An all you can shop skitter factory? Do they think the humans can beat them? Because you don't offer amnesty to things you can utterly destroy. Also I like scarface skitter. Who is he tracking, it is just Tom, is it Ben. Is it Tom and Ben? How can he get in and out of the camp at will, with this I am presuming it was not a dream, and that scarface skitter was actually there, the eye bug bot thing wasn't in the sclera of his eye in Anne's initial eval of Tom. Something like that would be noticeable. What are its plans? I don't think it is to ambush them as you think Tim. I think maybe he is there to spy, and or perhaps keep a leash on Ben or Tom. If they can keep that emphasis and further it they can make a better show. Also good, Maggie, Lourdes and Anne. always good. Lourdes isn't as annoying as she was last season. Maggie aside from flirting with Hal is great. I agree with you that Anne needs something more to do. I thought they were hinting at that with the whole sharing of a drink with Weaver. Another aspect I like is the conflict between Ben and Hal. Because Ben knows he is stronger, smarter faster etc. So how much longer is the group and specifically Hal and Tom going to be able to keep his growing ego and hatred in check.



Overall I think the bad and good even themselves out. I am not sure I can forgive them for screwing up the Alien and Tom conversation. I would have loved to see more of that and even most of the first episode. It should have been there in order to emphasize the writing. But ah well, maybe they will capture him again. There is so much potential for this show, they are teetering on the edge of greatness or being like Terra Nova and Alcatraz (crap). It isn't a good place to be in this age of TV. They need to think more like The Walking Dead, they just do. For all of its faults which are many and I have written enough about them on here. But their dialogue (aside from Lori) is far more emphatic and poignant than what Falling Skies has. You have all of these supposed strong characters, Tom a professor, Weaver, a philosophizing ex con who can cook, Weaver, an ex military guy, Anne, a doc with the ability to research and study the aliens, Maggie, A girl with a past who is intelligent and capable. Ben, an Alien boy with an attitude problem. You have these great characters to write for and the story should be better. The writers aren't helping it out as much as they could. The filler crap with the bridge and the Med Bus was lame and pointless. If you need to fill the show, fill it with good dialogue. Have Tom talk with the rest about the offer the aliens made and introduce some internal conflict for those that want that and those that want to fight. They had two shining examples of ways not to go with Terra Nova and Alcatraz and I don't think they took as much notes as they should have.



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Am I the only one who thought the premier was awesome? Sure they introduce problems and tied them up too nicely, but it seemed entertaining enough. I mean I was a bit squeamish when they took that wormy robot out of his eye and I was so glad to see them fight more aliens.
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You are not alone, my friends. Tons of people love this show.
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Probably why it was at the edge of cancellation... I guess.
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Nope I thought it was good.
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Recently saw Continuum. FRINGE just got owned.
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Is there any (legal) outlet for it in the USA? I keep hearing good things



I know it's a Canadian show, but I can't find it on my usual legal outlets: iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, etc.



I wanna watch, but I'm also a legal snob when it comes to videos and music.
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yea I live in Canada as well and I couldn't find any way to get it legal. I just had to stream tnt live on a site.



(btw: Hulu is technically illegal in Canada, unless if you use hotspot shield or any other ip proxy.)
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when the bridge exploded it was so noticeable Tom fell into the water! I was complaining about that for the rest of the episode
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There's "falling into the water"

And then there's "being knocked into the water"



They probably just assumed the concussive force either killed him, or knocked him out enough so he drowned



Finding someone in the water is hard enough in the day if they're not thrashing around. At night, under fire... good luck



That being said, it was OBVIOUS they weren't going to kill Noah Wyle when they explicitly showed his body fall

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Yes but it was clear that he was not *thrown* in the water. He just fell straight down.
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I'll admit, the writing could be much better, but it does have its moments. I personally look forward to the rest of the season. This is a sci-fi show that has made it to the second season! We should be counting our blessings, not ripping into it for not meeting our lofty expectations. Come on people, it's Falling Skies, not District 9!
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I do enjoy the show but...



1) I guess it would take Tom at least 1 episode to be walking around, nope. Wonder if the Skitters modified him?

1) Dai - I can't hit the target, I need to get closer. Closer being 10 feet.

2) We can't search for Tom! Except they hang out at the bank of the river long enough for him to rescue himself? W T F. And of course he's fine (see #1).
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It took months to travel from Wisconsin (or wherever they dropped it off). His walking (and motorcycle driving) was in flashbacks. Personally I'd rather that than have a couple of episodes worth of "Here's Tom's day, while here's Pope's day"
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I really hate it when people complain about the SFX in a TV show. They compare it to such-and-such movie. When the movie had like $100mill to shoot 100 minutes over the course of 1-2 years



While a TV show has maybe $50mill to shoot 950+ minutes, AND they have to get each chunk out the door ASAP.

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I get a kick out of reading all of these, and other show's, comments. Everyone wants to cut this or that, get rid of characters, move the story along, etc. But guess what people. This is a TV series, not a movie! It's a continuing story that's going to take time to unfold. It's not something like the Star Trek shows where different stories could be told each week while still following the main premise. Enjoy it for what it is. One of the only Sci-fi shows still around on TV. Yes it has it's problems, and hopefully as it sticks around it'll get better. As a summer show it only has so many episode to build on. Even after this second season it still won't have as many shows as 1 season of a regular series. I like the show and am very glad that they brought it back instead of replacing it with another stupid "reality" show.
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I think Tom freaking out was justified. The aliens have all of the insane tech and can remote control kids and speak through them. He also has gaps in his memory.



AND!!!!! They purposely let him go even after he said he would NOT push their idea of a prison camp. Heck, his torturer that apparently hated his guts was the one that let him go. Even though at least 1 other member in the people that got shot also said "heck no" to the prison camp thing.



Add to that finding that he had at least 1 metallic bug near his brain... and it's a valid concern that he might be a sleeper / bomb / whatever.
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Just watched both episodes. A lot better than I thought they'd be after reading the articles, but I agree there are some definite writing flaws (that's not whining, peeps, and I'll be watching the rest). What looked awesome were the shots from future episodes of the season (of course, carefully edited). Looks like they're stepping it up, and it even looks like they're going to take the story up a notch, too.
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yet all you whining complainers continue to watch it!! lol Since you all are such great critics why don't you get together and write a great show :)
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If it stays this bad I will stop watching. It's as simple as that.



I could create a better show than this, but are you going to bankroll me? I have no desire to be a starving artist. I'll stick with my IT job.
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I don't think criticising a show means you are saying you could write a better one and as other comments have said the frustrating thing about Falling Skies is that it always promises just a bit more than it delivers.
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Again... who's whining and complaining more than people like yourself? What I see are people questioning certain points of the show as not meeting up to the potential (usually the writing), and the true 'haters' are the people that cannot accept one iota of criticism and so just call the writer or commenters names.



Part of the POINT of this thread is to say that people keep coming back because, despite some inconsistencies in quality, or perceived flaws in story, there is hope for the show, and there is still interest.
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I really think they should've killed Tom off when they stayed behind to excise that other bullet fragment that they missed. I personally like Tom's character, but it would give the show a lot to go on. Ben would blame himself for his dad's death(his brothers would too). We would still know what happened during those three months, but the 2nd MA wouldn't. And it would add a bit of irony to the fact that he was in alien custody for weeks, they freed him and a dozen others, they mowed everyone down but him, he traveled for weeks by foot and found this young girl, they make it to the school, but nonbody's home so they keep looking and finally, only by happenstance, he runs into his son(the very son he was trying to save by going with the aliens on the ship in the first place) and Ben(the dead-eyed super-soldier son) shoots and fatally wounds his father. Booyah!!! I should write for this show.



Pope's "life...lemons" quote was ridiculous.



And finally, riddle me this; why were Hal and Maggie talking about how skitters breed? Don't the writers remember that the skitters are enslaved humans/extraterrestrial beings that are trans-morphed into skitters by the "harness"? They don't breed, that's the point, right?
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Do they really know that? I barely remember the first season. I think the doc figured it out and told history guy. I assume that they told the boss guy, but did they tell anyone else? I think the writers are trying to copy one of the most annoying things from Lost, that no one ever tells anyone else anything.
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Hal and Maggie did it because they're horny teenagers in looooove. Although Maggie is in her 20s, right? Shouldn't she be aiming a bit older?
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The actress is 31. She played a teenager when she tried to seduce Clark Kent 8 years ago. Is she really supposed to be a teenager here? I hope not. The guy playing Hal is 26. Not sure what age he's supposed to be on the show. Even if he's supposed to be 17 and she 26, I don't think it's unreasonable that they would hook up. It's not like either of them have a lot of people to choose from. It would make more sense than almost everything else we've seen on the show.
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Tim, I seriously recommend you check out and review the new sci-fi series on Show Case called Continuum. It's 4 episodes in and easily one of the best serialised sci-fi summer shows in years. X-Files fans will recognise the Cigarette Smoking Man (aka CGB Spender) played by William B Davis who pops up in the pilot, and the female lead doesn't do too bad a job either. Fast paced, plenty of action, interesting premise, what more could you want?
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I will totally check it out! Thanks for the rec!
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If you end up doing a review, please make an animated gif of the knife-throwing scene at 15:35 into the first episode. That was so ridiculous it makes the boat scene in Ringer look good.



I've seen the first three episodes. The acting is kind of bad, the directing is worse (that knife throw is a good example), the story is...I guess I'm still undecided about that, and the police work on the show is very unrealistic. (I guess it was a bad idea to start watching this the day after I finished watching all the episodes of Southland). But it's still entertaining in some weird way, so I agree that it's worth checking out.



You should also check out The legend of Korra if you haven't already.
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As far as summer sci-fi serialised shows go, I think it's a decent watch. There are way too many procedural and reality shows for my liking in the summer, so this little Canadian gem seemed iike a keeper.
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you my good sir are the one I should thank for Continuum!
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I couldn't agree more, Tim. The production values are way UP this season, which I took as a good sign, but what's the point of pouring all of your money into that without investing in improving your writing staff?? I just don't get it, and I guess these showrunners don't either.



There were a couple of other "What was the purpose of that?" moments for me, off the top of my head. I'm glad you have a picture of the bridge in the review. Look at the far right and tell me a person (or many) could not walk across there - especially someone like super Ben. Yet, they were going to have to take a raft across the river to scout out the other side, until deciding that Ben would swim by himself. What was the purpose of that? Also, when the parasite escaped from the jar - it crawled all over the medical girl only to sprout wings and fly away. What was the purpose of that, other than to be another ridiculous fake out moment in a line of ridiculous fake out moments?



So, there's a reason we all had a hard time remembering exactly what happened in season one - it just wasn't anything worth remembering. They have time to make season two different, but the writing has to improve in a hurry.
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I really wanted the parasite to crawl into Lourdes. She needs something to do and that would add a TON of interesting storylines.
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"Big thumbs down on the "fake-out" of the blown-up bridge and Tom's demise. How stupid do they think we are? Stop it, Spielberg!"



Ring-a-ding-ding! This was such a groaner...and the thought that the audience was suppose to know he made it? How does that make it better?



So a guy that's been gone for 3 months and they suspect might be dead shows up only to almost die again a few days later for a couple minutes. It's manipulative, badly written and just felt tacked on... Speilberg hasn't been any good in over a decade.
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My assumption was that they did it to reinforce his character as being sort of mythic in his ability to return from the dead over and over. Everyone was surprised to see him return alive after 3 months but now they appeared to be in awe. Came off as very calculated to me actually.
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"character as being sort of mythic in his ability to return from the dead over and over."



In fantasy that can work...in other cases (sci fi included) it's usually bad - like it is here.



Basically they're establishing "THIS CHARACTER CANNOT BE KILLED"....unless done REALLY well (and it's not here) that makes for FAR less compelling television. Anytime he's in some impossible situation you know he'll find his way out of it.
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This isn't a bad take on that, but TV writing is always written with the audience's point of view in mind. The whole bridge blowing up thing was a bit much. But earlier when he came out of the medical van all healed up was strong for the characters, but missed the mark for the audience, if you ask me. The passage of time is really hard to get across in TV, and we didn't feel it at all. To the characters, Tom coming back was pretty monumental. To us, it just felt like they had to get him back as soon as possible and did that. Again, important for the characters' perspective, but they need to keep us in mind too.
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This hatred for a TV show must be personal because I honestly can't see where you're coming from with these reviews. Sure the show is bit over the top in some of the dialogue and character interactions but only just a tad. I'm usually right with you when you point out show flaws but not I'm not on board with you here. The audience was never truly supposed to believe he died on the bridge(especially since they showed him jumping off) but rather the characters were supposed to believe it. The bus scene was to show sacrifice and loyalty as well as add a little tension and the drifted girl was there to make his story a little more interesting and possibly remind us there are still people out there. There's nothing special about these scenes to merit them being singled out.



I find the show very fun to watch and see nothing uncommonly campy about the characters or story for this type of show. Honestly I prefer it over The Walking Dead and feel that it warrants at least the same respect from reviewers.

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Isn't if funny though how they continue to watch every episode. The show draws them in so it must be doing something right. I know when I don't like a show I stop watching it after the first episode. lol
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If you don't give a show a fair chance you're doing yourself a disservice.



If it stays this bad I will stop watching.
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I don't see quite the hatred you see directed at this show. What I see more than anything is a slight indifference, or perhaps just a lack of enthusiasm. The writer's main point seems to be that the show has amazing potential but is not quite living up to it for one reason or another.
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Agreed; Tim is clearly not directing "hatred" at Falling Skies. I think he's very cogently pointing out what he sees as its flaws, and is expressing how he thinks the show could improve itself. He clearly WANTS it to do well, and is disappointed and showing why it isn't living up to a relatively fair expectation.
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I agree with almost all of that. I dont think it's better than TWD but it does deserve some respect. I don't understand why people hate the show so much.
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I consider this review to be kind. Pretty spot on and very lenient of it's great many failings.
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I don't hate the show at all. But it's clearly not doing everything as best it can. If the show continues to be flawed, we'll continue to talk about those flaws. But I also wanted to specifically point out where I thought it improved, and that gives me hope that Season 2 will be better than Season 1.
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I guess, but for me if the show continues to be as badly flawed as it is, I'll just stop watching...I was already on the fence about Season 2 to begin with.
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This is one of the first times I've read an article of show already broadcasting before watching, if that says anything about how much I'm anticipating the first two shows. I'll still watch them, of course, and I'm happy the show's back, but looks like we might be in for more bleh.
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No one I know has very strong opinions either way on this show. I mean, it's on, it's watchable enough, and it doesn't conflict with anything better.



I agree that they could've handled the whole "maybe Tom's a trojan horse" thing better. He should be suspicious of himself, (that "escape" was pretty clearly more of a "release") but if he really wanted to be paranoid then he should've just not rejoined the group. Problem solved; no need for restraints. Also, what's the point of restraining yourself if you're just gonna have your son undo you in the middle of a fight? He should at the very least be consistent in his fear of himself. Unless that was supposed to be some sort of break through moment for him when he realized he needed to trust himself, but if so it was badly done.
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Tom is not a machine. None of the humans are. They all have conflicting motivations and are imperfect and are bound to screw up and change their mind.



The fact that a character in a story isn't perfect by some definition proposed by the peanut gallery is actually a good thing.



For better or worse, that bit with the bus was straight out of MASH. Meatball surgery in the back of a bus after the end of the world is going to be an imperfect thing too.
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Hey Tim, I just wanted to let you know it says S02E02 & S02E03 instead of S02E01 & S02E02. Do you think you can change that? :)



Sci-fi fan #1 or sci-fi fan #2: I don't really fall into either categories. For Falling Skies though, I find myself being in the middle heading towards #2.



Thanks for the review.
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