You Won't Find Chicken Little Here by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
Falling Skies chronicles the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that leaves most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, survivors band together to begin the difficult task of fighting back against the aggressive aliens. Outside of Boston, history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) helps lead a small army named 2nd Massachusetts in the battle of their lives to preserve their families and what’s left of mankind.
Falling Skies is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, Graham Yost and screenwriter Robert Rodat, who wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Mark Verheiden and Greg Beeman serve as co-executive producers.
I love going into shows "blind," not really knowing what it's about. I knew Falling Skies was about aliens, Steven Spielberg was one of the producers, and Noah Wyle was one of the stars. That's it, and it was enough to make me want to watch the series.
This 2-disc set includes all 10 episodes from the first season:
Disc 1 (3:27:02)
Live and Learn (42:04)
The Armory (41:54)
Prisoner of War (40:55)
Silent Kill (41:07)
Disc 2 (3:25:52)
Sanctuary, Part 1 (41:24)
Sanctuary, Part 2 (41:45)
What Hides Beneath (42:01)
Eight Hours (39:06)
Sometimes there's a noticeable difference in the picture quality between the pilot, and the actual series. That's definitely the case here, as the pilot looks pretty darn ugly. There's quite a lot of noise in the picture, which kind of works for the series (much like the noise in Battlestar Galactica), but the night shots are a bit of a mess. Things change drastically in the rest of the episodes; the noise is gone, and the picture looks really good. Black levels are great, which is important given the number of dark scenes in the show. There's a play all option, and a chapter after the opening of the show.
I was a bit disappointed in the English Dolby TrueHD track for the show. I'm used to sci-fi shows having awesome audio, and this just felt flat. It was a bit quiet, but more importantly it lacked much use of the surround speakers, and the bass just didn't deliver much of anything. When something explodes on screen, I want to feel the deep sound rattle me, but that didn't happen in this show. I also stood near the surround speakers a few times, just to make sure there was audio coming out of them. It was there, but very, very quiet, so quiet that you wouldn't hear it if you were more than 6 inches away. That's disappointing. There's also a Portuguese track, along with English, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Half the episodes have commentary tracks, but there are just 3 people you'll hear from, which is a bit odd. Give them a listen if you have a chance. Greg Beeman does an excellent job carrying two of the commentary tracks by himself, which is tough to do (and so many have failed).
The Armory - Greg Beeman
Prisoner of War - Greg Beeman
What Hides Beneath - Noah Wyle and Mark Verheiden
Mutiny - Greg Beeman, Noah Wyle and Mark Verheiden
Eight Hours - Greg Beeman, Noah Wyle and Mark Verheiden
Falling Skies from Pencils to Print (16:29)
Paul Tobin, Scott Allie, Mike Richardson talk about the creation of the Dark Horse comic book that details the events before the show begins. I'm definitely going to pick this up.
Animating a Skitter (4:01)
Go behind-the-scenes with Andrew Orloff (VFX Supervisor), Greg Beeman (Director) and others, to look at how a Skitter is animated for the second episode.
Falling Skies Panel: San Diego Comic-Con 2011 (20:46)
I like that so many sets include these comic-con panels on the sets. The picture seems a bit stretched though.
Behind the Scenes Featurettes (5:44)
A couple of featurettes that include interviews with the actors. Looks like these were created for the channel to promote the series.
The Unknown (2:44)
The Second Mass (3:00)
Unanswered Questions: Season 2 Sneak Peek (1:46)
Hints of what will come in the second season.
Though the story of an alien invasion is far from being a new idea, Falling Skies introduced some new elements to the idea, with kids being taken and controlled by the aliens. I liked the characters in the show, and all the episodes moved very quickly. I also burned through them all, watching all 10 episodes in a single day (the first time that's happened in a long, long time). I also liked that the episodes continued right after the end of the previous episode. There were no gaps in the story, it just flowed.
I thought this Blu-ray set was quite good as well. It's not loaded with bonus material, but what's here is good. I would have preferred to hear from a few more people in the commentary tracks, and many of the featurettes were pretty short. The audio is a disappointment, but that probably has more to do with the initial production than the Blu-ray release; it's still surprising that they didn't provide more punch.
I'm definitely looking forward to the second season of the show.