Saturday, July 30, 2011

Falling Skies, Rising Stars: The Cast and Characters of Falling Skies


Its not often we find ourselves with a story whose cast and characters mesh together so well, while also remaining realistic in their portrayal of a person. Falling Skies is one of those stories who manages to make this happen. Mark Verheiden and his writing team (include Melinda Hsu Taylor) managed to make that happen with a story that none of us can stop thinking about and a cast we have all fell in love with for various reasons. So lets look at our cast and their characters.

Tom Mason (played by Noah Wyle)
Tom Mason is a history professor who never dreamed he would one day be taking his knowledge of military tactics to real life while protecting his family. During the invasion Tom lost his wife, and soon after the invasion his middle son Ben was abducted by the skitters and harnessed. Since that time Tom has had to be a leader not only in helping make difficult choices but also a leader to his 2 sons Hal and Matt while also doing everything in his power to rescue Ben. After the successful rescue of Ben from an alien nest, Tom feels like he has done his part and now has his family whole, but knows his job is never done protecting his family.

Noah Wyle plays Tom Mason. Noah has been apart of our TV for a long time. Most notable his run on ER as Dr. Carter. Noah stopped TV for some time after that to spend time with his family and his son. Noah then stared in a series of TV movies, The Librarian, on TNT. Having worked with Steven Spielberg on ER he and Noah were friends and when the script for Falling Skies came, he wanted to be apart of it. Noah is a seasoned actor who brings the perfect father meets military 2nd in command persona. At the same time he brings doubt, mistakes, unsure feelings and uneasy decision making. Some may say its because the writers did a bad job or the actors couldn't act, but both are wrong. Noah played the character to the letter and showed us a real human person we would expect any of us would be in that same situation.

Dr. Anne Glass (played by Moon Bloodgood)
Dr. Anne Glass, the Dr. Quinn of the sci fi world. Anne is a pediatrician thrust into full time MASH unit doctor who is troubled by the loss of her family. Anne trys to distance her self from those feelings by ignoring them and buring herself in her work. She is fast becoming a skilled doctor in many fields and proving that she can rise to the occasion when needed. During Silent Kill, Anne proved a skitter could be killed fairly quick and far quieter with a jab to the soft pallet. Soon after doing this Anne has a moment of grieving when she reveals she has nothing of her son or family to put on the wall to remember them by. Anne in many ways is a companion for Tom, and someone who cares deeply for the kids, including the 3 mason boys.

Moon Bloodgood is no stranger to sci fi. Most recently she starred in Terminator Salvation opposite Christian Bale and Sam Worthington as a fighter pilot and love interest for Sam. Moon brings to doctor Anne a mix of real life couping and care that we typically dont see in hollywood scripts. Rather then the stereotypical couping of drinking, depression or tough girl look, Moon brings to the table a real life person. Someone who does their job everyday trying to push the feeling aside, while at the same time almost losing it each time as they well up and want to burst out.

Captain Weaver (played by Will Patton)
Captain Weaver is our resident military leader. Weaver is a no-nonsense straight up military guy who cares little for whiners and babysitting and wants to do as he was commanded and strike back at these aliens as quickly as he can. As we push through the series though we find wholes in this tough guy persona that Weaver puts out there. After Bens rescue, a song is played on a record, a Jimmy Cliff song, which Weaver says not to play. During an attack by a loan skitter and mech, young Jimmy Boland is attacked and trys to fight off the skitter, only to have Weaver get there just in time to blow the skitters head off. Jimmy give Weaver a big hug and we see Weaver take to young Jimmy. It seems he connects with Jimmy or that Jimmy reminds him of himself at that age.Weaver has also suffered a personal loss that we have yet to learn much about, but as we find out more, we will find out the toll it takes on him and how this tension will affect his relationship with Tom and the others.

Will Patton is another seasoned actor who has played a military type before (The Postman) and in many other roles. Will brings to the screen the harsh, sometimes rude, military man, who at the same time has hidden faults that he refuses to let anyone see. Will plays this very well and his character is very strong on the show.

Dai (played by Peter Shinkoda)
Dai is one of Toms right hand guys when it comes to scouting and helping with recon. Dai is quick, reliable, doesn't hesitate and has no fear. This is due in part to Dai having had no family, meaning he has suffered no loss during the attacks. Tom and Dai rely on each other for support and quick wits.

Peter Shinkoda plays a brilliant, though quiet, Dai. Peter has appeared in dozens of shows and movies for the past 20 years and on Falling Skies he brings the perfect character to balance Tom. Unlike Tom Peters character doesn't have the weight of a family on his back and calls it like he sees it, few questions asked. Peter is able to bring to the screen that laid back persona who will fight the good fight and not be over zealous.

Anthony (played by Mpho Koaho)
Anthony is a former Boston Police Officer who is one of the best fighters the 2nd mass has. He is quick to respond, and calm when patience is needed to let the enemy make a mistake. He is also a voice of reason to the 2nd mass when emotions are running high for those who have family in danger but must make important and sometimes dangerous choices.

Played by Mpho, Anthony is the guy you want with you when your in a fire fight. MpHo brings a very confident and skilled policeman who has gone to military man in order to stay alive. For all the training, we don't see a common hollywood mistake of making his character unrealistic making impossible shots, cliche lines or stereotypical gun handling. Mpho brings a real world approach to a world where aliens have invaded, and nerves caused mistakes sometimes but he wont go down without a fight.

Maggie (played by Sarah Carter)
Maggie is a tough nut who has had a rough life. We learn at 16 Maggie found out she had cancer and ever since she has been in and out of the hospital, which she explains to Hal is the reason she knew where to find the drugs that were needed for the kids. Under that hard shell we find a girl who is an excellent solider, and help to prop up several women in the 2nd mass and even helps Dr. Anne Glass learn to shot a gun. "Like carrying a credit card, you never leave home without it". At the end of the last show, we see Maggie hold Hals hand, and it seems she has feelings for Hal. But then again what young girl within 1,000 miles of Boston doesn't seem to have a thing for Hal?

Sarah Carter brings a carefree, tough girl attitude to a complex character who after being taken by force by Pope, has been hurt. I am guessing we will learn more about that soon, but Sarah brings out the perfect "ill go down fighting" persona with a mix of past abuse that she takes on the chin.

Pope (played by Colin Cunningham)
Pope, the renegade. Was in jail and was the jails cook. Quick wits, carefree attitude, Pope is out for Pope and nobody else. He is also an excellent cook and doesn't shy away at letting you know his joy of cooking, nor his hate for the skitters. Pope attacks Dai and speeds away to kill a nest of skitters Tom told him to leave alone. We find Pope back in our last episode after he was forced into telling a trader, Clayton, where the 2nd mass was and that they had a bunch of kids he could trade. One thing Pope hates more then the skitters, is a trader and though Pope is pissed he was taken advantage of, he is even further pissed at what Clayton is doing to these kids. Pope protects Hal and the kids, Firing on Clayton before Tom stops him to avoid bloodshed. Is Pope really bad, or does he have a soft spot we haven't fully seen yet? One thing is for sure, we want him around in a fight!

Colin Cunningham is a staple of the sci fi TV industry that fans of Stargate will not soon forget. Colin brings the perfect bad guy/good heart persona. We see a hard guy who doesn't care about anyone but himself and would kill another person if it meant getting what he wanted. But we also find Pope rise to the occasion to help out the 2nd mass when he clearly could have left. Colins choice of wardrobe is the key winning point to his approach with the character. Showing that bad ass, long hair, rocker/ex-con/hippie look. Colin said he choose that outfit himself and i think he did great with that.

Our well established stars create an excellent foundation for the show. Our young up and coming stars bring a new and fresh set of faces to the screen with a set of some of the most complex and interesting characters of the series.

Hal Mason (played by Drew Roy)
Hal is the oldest of 3 sons to Tom Mason. Still young, Hal has to grow up fast and become an adult much faster then his father would like or himself. Hal seems to enjoy the responsibility but his father doesn't want to let go. Hal has to protect his younger brother Matt and figure out a way to save his bratty younger brother Ben who was taken and harnessed. It was told that the day their mother died Ben and Hal fought fairly badly and their mother broke it up. Since then Hal had promised to watch out for Ben and protect him and he feels he must keep an eye on him now that they have him back. Though everyone else doesn't see it, Hal sees something is wrong with Ben and he doesn't want everyone to know yet. Hal wants to protect his brother but also learn more about whats happening. Tom admits after saving Ben that Hal has proven himself a man and Hals efforts to save the kids from the sanctuary proved that even further. Hal also seems to be a chick magnet, attracting every girl within the tri-state area to him. But hey, there are not a lot of options left out there any more ladies. Harness free!

Drew brings to the screen that older protective brother who rebelled against his father but under it all, loves his brothers and would do anything to protect them. Drew portrays this perfectly with a little humor where needed but a serious face during battle. Drew also displays emotional in a true and endearing way when witnessing the aliens murder 5 kids and in his concern for his brother Ben.

Matt Mason (played by Maxim Knight)
The youngest of the family, Matt just wants things to go back to the way they were. He wants his mom back and he wants his bigger brother Ben. After getting Ben back, Matt and Ben are seen being playful and close to each other, Matt missed his brother and they get along. Matt desperately wants to help the 2nd mass but finds himself not allowed to handle any guns or help in the fight. Uncle Scott gives Matt a task of working the radio in case they can communicate with other groups out there. We soon find out the radios are picking up some kinda of communication from the skitters and/or the harnesses and we may find the 2nd mass and Matt get to use this against the invaders!.

Maxim Knight, a very talented young actor with a lot of shows under his belt, proves he has what it takes to be an important person to the 2nd mass. Maxim gives us that perfect young boy who isn't happy with whats going on, but wants to help in any way he can. Displaying a range of emotion, Maxim also displays a genuine connection on screen with Noah, Drew and Connor.

Jimmy Boland (played by Dylan Authors)
Jimmy Boland is young but just old enough to be given a gun and to help the 2nd mass with guarding and protecting everyone. Jimmy is still a kid and messes up early on, to which Weaver keeps him off active duty for awhile. Once allowed back on active duty Jimmy is attacked by a mech and a skitter. Jimmy makes a valiant effort to kill the skitter before Weaver kills it. Jimmy is visibly shaken and gives Weaver a huge. As the kids leave for the sanctuary you can see Jimmy looks up to Weaver and Weaver seems care for Jimmy too.

Dylan Authors is a Canadian actor who does an excellent job portraying an over eager young boy who wants to fight to kill the skitters but at the same time shows resentment towards Ben and Ricky and doesn't trust them. Dylan does a great job showing that distrust on screen.

These next two are probably the most important 2 characters of our story and for 2 polar opposite reasons. Ben and Ricky were both harnessed, for at least 5 months. Nobody knows for sure who was harnessed longer but both did not come back the same and both had very different results.

Ben Mason (played by Connor Jessup)
Ben Mason was taken by the skitters during an attack on Cambridge a month after the attack. 5 months later Ben is rescued by his older brother Hal in a risky operation. Upon his return, Ben remembers his father and apparently his brothers but something isn't right. In front of Matt, Ben does over 100 push ups without breaking a sweat. When asked if he missed everyone, Ben replied to Matt that he doesn't know, the skitters thought "with" them and cared for them and Ben kinda "misses that". Though Matt seems to pay only a little attention to that statement, a wide awake Hal knows, this isn't the same bratty brother he once knew. We find tension among the civilians is growing as they don't want these "razor backs" Ben and Rick around. Matt tells Ben that only his and Ricks spikes (left in their back from the harness) have remained and all the other kids' are gone. This reaches a boiling point coming up this week as we see Ben try to hide from Hal that he can jump rope for over 2 hours without stopping and Rickys statement to Ben of how "you could eat THEIR food". Just what happen to Ben and what will happen as we push forward?

Connor Jessup's character is my favorite of the entire group. Connor gives us an excellent portrayal of a boy who is conflicted about his feelings towards the skitters, the fear he felt when taken, and the effects its having on him afterwards. Connor displays the emotion of a scared boy who wants to fit in and pretends everything is alright, while underneath he knows its not all right. Connors love of film and acting shows on screen. He display genuine response and emotion to different run ins with Hal over sentimental things and the changes he is undergoing.

Ricky (played by Daniyah Ysrayl)
When Ricky was taken he had cystic fibrosis, which is a very harsh disease. His life was miserable with constant inhalers, medication and hospital stays. After being taken and then rescued, we learn he was healed of it. But something is wrong, he doesn't remember his father. When left alone in the room, he puts his harness back on and trys to free the skitter. For the first time we see the skitter use the boy to communicate with Dr. Anne and Dr. Harris. The skitter tells them to let him go, the children are theirs now. When told they cannot let him go, he asks to be killed. Ricks father had enough and pulls the harness from Rickys back. Leading up to the attempt to save Ben, Hal asks Ricky about the skitters. Ricky gives a very cold reply "they will kill you all". When we move into sanctuary part 2, we see Rickys cold tone get worse as he scolds his father about "happy times" and yells at Ben for eating "their food". After Rickys father is killed, Ricky shows no emotion and says to Ben that he doesn't understand how they "humans" could kill each other, because WE dont. We don't know the reasons yet why Ricky seems to be wanting nothing more then to be with the aliens and why his response to being de-harnessed was so different then Ben. However both will play an important role in discovering why the aliens took them in the first place and how they can be saved.

Dan doesn't say a lot in the show, but when he has something to say, that one line echoes for episodes to come. His creepy, shallow emotional speeches bring a creepy and edgy feel to the character and make us worry for all the kids, including Ricky and Ben.

We cannot forget the writers here either. Mark Verheiden and his writing team (including Melinda Hsu Taylor) have created an edgy, human versus alien drama that keeps us on the edge of our seat while not overkilling the story with fancy explosions and hollywood cliche moments. Coming into season 2 Remi Aubuchon takes over to continue the story on. He was the master behind the creation of the series prequel to BSG, Caprica, having directed the pilot episode. Despite what critics may say, I loved Capricas edgy and dark approach to a world that was, well dark and edgy. He didn't sugar coat anything and brought everything to you in a mysterious way that didn't insult your intelligence. Cant wait to see what he has coming.

Theories going into the last 3 hours of the show? We know our bipedal have not shown themselves except in close proxy to the ships in the major cities. We don't yet know what the harness is doing to the kids or if the baby birth scene has a deeper meaning. But i think we will soon find out, everything we thought we knew, was not even close!

Cant say it enough but all of the young actors on this show: Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Daniyah Ysrayl, Dylan Authors and Drew Roy have a big career coming and hopfully plenty more seasons of Falling Skies to show us.

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