What’s Wrong With Falling Skies?

A high-concept, big-budget sci-fi drama produced by DreamWorks Television and Steven Spielberg, it has to be great – so why isn’t it? The short answer to this article’s titular question is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with Falling Skies, it’s just there’s nothing inherently right with it either. It’s middle of the road, crammed with clichés, overly religious in the way only American shows can be and yet, you still find yourself tuning in week after week and most likely season after season. What exactly is it that Falling Skies has?

The narrative is as simple as it gets: aliens attack, humans lose, survivors group together. The characters are generic: we have our hero in the shape of history professor (read, military tactician with morals), a by-the-book military man in charge of the group (read, combat hardened vet with a chip on his shoulder), an idealistic medic (next season’s love interest no doubt), an outcast who “changes his waysâ€? and becomes one of the good guys and an annoyingly evangelical teen who’s blatantly in love with the history professor’s heroic sixteen-year-old son. It’s entirely generic, aliens included. Behind the overused premise and average effects there’s very little to it, which means Falling Skies could will run and run. In many ways it’s closer to a soap-opera than an engaging forward-thinking drama.

Prison Break fell into the same sort of lull during its latter seasons, but then, Prison Break had one of the best first seasons of any show, ever. And they had the courage to bring the show to a satisfying end. Falling Skies watches like a hit TV series in its fourth or fifth season, no one has to try that hard because they already have enough viewers with a vested interest. If Spielberg’s name wasn’t behind it this would have never premiered to such high numbers and would never have gained its seemingly loyal viewership. But then, it is entertaining, just entertaining enough, just engaging enough, just well-acted enough, just believable enough to guarantee a mass audience. It’s a shame, because if those involved had really put their heads together they could have created something truly great, rather than the mediocrity that is Falling Skies.

Falling Skies airs Tuesday’s at 9pm on FXUK.