TV Review: ‘Falling Skies,’ Season 5

Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Will Patton, Colin Cunningham, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Sarah Sanguin Carter, Mpho Koaho, Doug Jones, Mira Sorvino

Although the ratings have remained reasonably good, one suspects a contingent of “Falling Skies” viewers have stuck with this Steven Spielberg-produced drama the last few seasons just waiting to see its conclusion. That heightens the interest level as the TNT series launches into its final run, with the prospect of the human rebellion at last overcoming the alien invaders who have killed, brainwashed and otherwise tormented them for so long that even Noah Wyle’s good-natured character is angry enough to support torturing prisoners. Mindless fun, “Falling Skies” has clearly reached the point where it’s time to bring the curtain down.

Actually, the show has gone through several contortions along the way, from a slightly clunky start to a stronger and more action-driven second season to bouts of ridiculousness as the war has dragged on, unearthing a hybrid baby who aged impossibly fast, and a rival extraterrestrial force. As this season begins, the human insurgency has struck a major blow against the alien Espheni — essentially decapitating much of their command structure — though as they quickly discover, lowering the boom on the forces that remain isn’t going to be the “turkey shoot” that Wyle’s Tom Mason envisions.

The first two episodes (both directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi) contain bountiful helpings of action, as well as the war-movie cliches that have been part of the program’s formula since the beginning. That includes last-minute rescues, casualties, debate about tactics between Tom and his grizzled lieutenant (Will Patton), a crisis due to a lack of supplies, and, of course, the soldier who puts his and potentially others’ lives at risk because he’s so hell-bent to avenge a fallen comrade.

Although “Falling Skies” is a pretty lean, mean, combat machine, with some first-rate visual-effects work, the producers have also incorporated plenty of soapy elements, among them a romantic triangle involving Tom’s two older sons (Drew Roy, Connor Jessup) and Maggie (Sarah Sanguin Carter), the young woman torn between them. And the creatives can still play with things like the more gruesome aspects of alien physiology, belatedly answering the question of what happens if a person gets hungry enough to munch on what they colorfully call “Skitters.”

Like many of Spielberg’s TV contributions — and there have been quite a lot of them in recent years — “Falling Skies” draws from and then elongates aspects of the director’s filmography, owing its strongest debt to “War of the Worlds.” Yet at its core is a fundamental question of maintaining humanity amid the struggle to win back the ordinary lives these people have lost, a point Tom explicitly makes during a rally-the-troops speech in the premiere.

At a certain point, though, this protracted war of occupation, told from the perspective of those fighting to free their homeland, has produced a yearning for what such situations often lack — namely, a definitive victory and a clean exit. Chalk that up as one area where fantasy can improve upon reality, and one reason why it will come as something of a cathartic release when the time comes to stop watching the “Skies.”

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'Falling Skies,' Season 5

(Series; TNT, Sun. June 28, 10 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Amblin Television.

Crew: Executive producers, David Eick, Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank; co-executive producers, Ayanna A. Floyd, Jonathan Glassner, Marc Dube, Todd Sharp, Olatunde Osunsanmi; producers, Noah Wyle, Grace Gilroy; director, Osunsanmi; writer, Eick; camera, Barry Donlevy; production designer, Rob Gray; editor, Tim Kinzy; music, Noah Sorota; casting, Megan Branman, Dylann Brander. 60 MIN.

Cast: Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Will Patton, Colin Cunningham, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Sarah Sanguin Carter, Mpho Koaho, Doug Jones, Mira Sorvino

More TV

  • Sinclair

    Sinclair Closes Purchase of Fox Regional Sports Networks From Disney

    Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Walt Disney Company have closed their $9.6 billion deal for Sinclair to buy 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks and Fox College Sports. The deal was announced in May after Disney bought the networks as part of its acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox. The portfolio, which excludes the YES Network, is described [...]

  • Michael Shannon

    Michael Shannon to Play Jerry Buss in HBO's 'Untitled Showtime Lakers Project' Pilot

    Michael Shannon has been cast to play self-made millionaire and former Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss in HBO’s “The Untitled Showtime Lakers Project” pilot, based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.” The series, which chronicles the professional and personal lives of the [...]

  • Luna Nera Netflix Italy

    Netflix Eyes More Italian Productions

    Since Netflix entered the Italian market in 2015, it’s steadily gained ground in terms of subscriptions, which are expected to reach 2 million by the end of 2019, according to independent analyst Ovum. The streaming giant recently announced a €200 million ($222 million) investment in Italian original productions over the next three years. Variety spoke [...]

  • 'Serendipity': NBC Developing Series Inspired by

    'Serendipity': NBC Developing Series Inspired by Kate Beckinsale, John Cusack Movie

    NBC has given a script commitment to a prospective series inspired by the 2001 Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack movie “Serendipity.” The project hails from Miramax Television, whose film division produced the original film, and writer Jonny Umansky. The idea for the show seems like a romantic one, here’s the logline: Harry and Claire fall [...]

  • The Bachelor frontrunners

    Who's the Next 'Bachelor'? Here Are Season 24's Three Frontrunners (EXCLUSIVE)

    When last season of “The Bachelorette” wrapped up, many viewers would have guessed the next “Bachelor” would be runner-up Tyler Cameron. But oh, how things change in a month’s time. Cameron, the runner-up in Hannah Brown’s season, who stopped by “The Bachelorette” finale’s live after show to quickly reconcile with Brown and discuss meeting for [...]

  • Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen and Martin

    Bruce Springsteen's Director, Thom Zimny, on the Move from 'Broadway' to 'Western Stars'

    Director Thom Zimny is due for a big September: Come Sept. 22, he’ll find out whether he’s winning an Emmy Award for directing “Springsteen on Broadway” for Netflix. Ten days before that, he’ll be at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival to premiere a theatrical feature, “Western Stars,” which he co-directed with his muse and subject, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content