Earlier today, I was floored by the footage of Frank Darabont’s television adaptation of the Walking Dead. Unfortunately, I wish the same could be said of what I’ve seen of the Steven Spielberg-produced Falling Skies for TNT. The show — created by Robert Rodat (screenwriter for Saving Private Ryan, and The Patriot) — stars TNT-regular Noah Wyle (ER, The Librarian) and sci-fi regular Moon Bloodgood (Journeyman, Terminator Salvation) as everyday people whose lives are overturned when aliens invade and wipe out 80 percent of humanity. Oh yah, and they fried the electrical grid as well. Fuckers.

Series writer and co-exec producer Mark Verheiden joined Bloodgood and Wyle on stage at San Diego’s Comic-Con to talk about the series and show off its first footage in a (very) short trailer. The trailer starts off with a child’s narration of the alien invasion — something that was Spielberg’s idea, according to Verheiden. We see clips of the human resistance (which looks very much like every ragtag group of resistance fighters so typical in sci-fi), a few glancing shots of the alien spaceships, and brief glimpses at the aliens themselves.

It’s certainly far too early to judge the series completely, and some of the footage may be reworked by its release next June, but I can’t help but notice how TV-like the series appears to be. The action seems on the level of a Stargate series, as do the special effects (both minuses in my book). For an invasion series with Spielberg’s pedigree, I was expecting something a bit more. It also doesn’t help that it’s chock full of many scenes so familiar to invasion stories since War of the Worlds.

But while I’m not so hot on what I’ve seen, both Wyle and Bloodgood seemed to have fallen in love with the material. Wyle mentioned that he was hesitant to get into another television project, but the strength of the pilot script convinced him that he had to be involved. He plays Tom Mason, a former Boston University professor who specialized in the American Revolution — something which makes him well versed in military strategy. His wife was killed in the initial invasion, and one of his sons was abducted by the aliens (they hinted that the aliens want to steal adolescents for some reason).

Verheiden mentioned that the series was originally called Concord — a reference to one of the first battles in the American Revolution — and that it originally had more direct parallels to that war as well. They ended up relaxing that stance to be more flexible about the direction of the series.

Bloodgood listed her (obvious) affinity for science fiction as one of the main reasons for signing on, and that she was also taken with the story of her character — a former pediatrician who lost both her husband and young child in the alien invasion. Unlike many of her previous roles, she doesn’t take up arms or kick any ass (yet). Her character instead seems to serve as a way to remind Mason and the resistance of their humanity.

I’m hoping that future footage looks better, because I’m a fan of both actors. Verheiden also mentioned that Justified writer and showrunner Graham Yost was contributing to the series, although he was somewhat vague on how exactly. At this point, it seems like he may contribute a script or two during the series’ first season. Whatever his involvement, the fact that his name is attached to the series in some fashion is enough to give me hope. For now.

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