TNT’s new alien invasion series certainly has the support of the network (or at least the network’s marketing department) because, despite the fact that I don’t regularly watch anything else on that channel, I couldn’t help but hear about this new show, triumphantly described as coming from “Executive Producer Steven Spielberg”. C’mon. Like that guy knows anything about telling stories with aliens!
After I got over my initial confusion over the casting (“Hey, that’s Carter from ER! With a beard!!” and “Hey, that’s Will Patton! What’s he doing on a TV show?” and “Wait. Isn’t that Moon Bloodgood? I didn’t know this show was about time travel!?”) I decided that this is a pretty serviceable show about the horrors of war.
We follow the tired but persevering Massachusetts 2nd in their fight for survival after the invasion of an alien race lovingly nicknamed “Skitters”. When you finally do see one of these freaky, six-legged monstrosities climbing down a wall, you understand the name. But the creepiest thing about them isn’t their appearance. It’s that what they want (in fact, the only thing they seem to want) are human children. They capture them and “harness” them with Giger-esque attachments they bolt onto the kids’ backs, turning them into mindless puppets.
While I do enjoy the show, I can’t say it’s really destination television for me. If they cancel it tomorrow, my response would be, “Oh.” Wyle and Patton and Bloodgood all turn in good performances, but the only character that really pops is Pope, played hilariously by Colin Cunningham. He’s the most morally ambiguous character on the show. But even then, you’re never really worried about him being truly evil. He’s more Snape than Gollum.
And that’s kind of what’s wrong with the show. Everything is kind of bland and gray. You never get any respite from the continuing threat of the Skitters… but you also never feel any fear that the problem of the week won’t be solved by the end of the episode. They’re trying to be gritting and edgy… but also family friendly. I don’t think anyone’s going to be putting this on any top ten lists, because it’s not really about anything. Hopefully as they build the mythology, that can change. But I’m not holding my breath.