- Apr 16, 2008
- Hawthorne, NV
- Real Name
- Todd Erwin
In preparation for the premiere of Season Two on June 17th on TNT, Falling Skies: The Complete First Season arrives on Blu-ray in a two-disc set that includes all 10 episodes plus a collection of bonus features. Fans of the series will be more than happy with the set, a definite upgrade from the cable broadcasts.
Studio: TNT/Warner Home Video
US BD Release Date: June 5, 2012
Original Broadcast Year: 2011
Rated: TV-14 (Violence)
Running Time: 528 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Portuguese)
Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish
Movie: 4 out of 5
2011 was a busy year for Steven Spielberg. He produced three major summer blockbusters (Super 8, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Cowboys & Aliens), launched two new television series (Falling Skies, Terra Nova), and directed two movies released just days apart in the US (The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse). While Terra Nova (a hybrid, of sorts, between Jurassic Park and Avatar for the smaller screen) was a disaster for its broadcast network, FOX, TNT had overwhelming success with Falling Skies (it was the network’s number one drama for the summer of 2011), a series that owes a great deal to War of the Worlds.
Taking place six months after aliens have attacked Earth, the series centers around an army regimen made up of civilians, named the 2nd Massachusetts, and lead by Captain Weaver (Will Patton) and history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle). Tom lost his wife and his middle son, Ben (Connor Jessup), was abducted during one of the attacks, and when he sees Ben being used as slave labor by the Skitters (six-legged aliens slightly resembling velociraptors), he is determined to free his son at any cost. But he is also finding comfort in his loss from pediatrician Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood), who lost her husband during one of the waves of attacks.
Developed and conceived by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan), what possibly keeps the show strong is the number of executive producers who, at their core, are strong writers, such as Graham Yost (Speed), Mark Verheiden (Smallville), and Rodat. It also helps that the show is well cast. Wyle is smart and sympathetic as the scholarly father. Patton keeps enough mystery about Weaver’s past to keep him interesting. Bloodgood is the voice and caretaker of the civilians. Sarah Carter is excellent as the damaged but vengeful young woman who doesn’t mind kicking butt. And Colin Cunningham is delightfully amusing as the smarmy, not to be trusted POW who cons his way into being the head cook.
The production and sound design of the series are at a very cinematic level, something becoming more and more common for most dramatic series. The visual effects, by Zoic Studios, are top-notch for a cable series (and they should be, since they also created the effects for Fringe, Firefly, Serenity, and Zombieland).
Video: 4 out of 5
Originally broadcast in 1080i on TNT, Warner’s Blu-ray is a definite improvement. Presented in 1080p/24 in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (despite the packaging stating 2.40:1), and compressed with the VC-1 codec, there is an extra level of detail that was missing in its broadcast counterpart. Colors are consistent, although intentionally washed out. Some may find the inherent grain and image softness to be troubling, but the series was filmed in 35mm, and much of what is seen is likely intentional to give the show a gritty look.
Audio: 4 out of 5
This is where the Blu-ray really blows the broadcast versions out of the water. Featuring a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack designed by Emmy-winner Rick Steele, the track has an impressive low-end with extended dynamic range that lends a great deal of detail that was missing in the compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 broadcast soundtrack. Dialogue is clear and intelligible, and the surrounds get a decent, if not thorough, workout. Contest code word: Skitter. What is presented here is identical to what Steele intended on the mixing stage, as he indicated during a panel discussion held at Dolby Laboratories in Burbank late last month. A lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, encoded at 448 kbps, is included for backwards compatibility.
Special Features: 3 out of 5
Falling Skies: The Complete First Season is packaged in a stacking 2-disc Digipak with a foldover cover that fits inside an outer sleeve. I am not a big fan of this type of packaging for two reasons. First, I find them rather flimsy. Second, you must remove disc one to get to disc two. Why a standard 2-disc Blu-ray keepcase with an outer sleeve couldn’t be used is a mystery.
Audio Commentary for The Armory and Prisoner of War by Director and Executive Producer Greg Beeman
Audio Commentary for What Hides Beneath by Actor Noah Wyle and Writer Mark Verheiden
Audio Commentary for Mutiny by Executive Producer Greg Beeman, Actor Noah Wyle, and Writer Mark Verheiden
Audio Commentary for Eight Hours by Director Greg Beeman, Actor Noah Wyle, and Writer Mark Verheiden
Falling Skies from Pencils to Print; The Dark Horse Comic Book Revealed (1080p, 16:29): This featurette (exclusive to the Blu-ray edition) takes a look at the comic book, which expands on the series.
Animating A Skitter (1080p, 4:01): This featurette is a very brief look at how they created the Skitters.
Falling Skies Panel: San Diego Comic-Con 2011 (1080p, 20:46): Highlights from the 2011 Comic-Con panel with the cast and crew.
Behind The Scenes: The Unknown (1080p, 2:44): The first of two typical EPK featurettes, this one centers on aliens and alien technology.
Behind The Scenes: The Second Mass (1080p, 3:00): The second of the EPK featurettes centers on the military tactics and leadership.
Unanswered Questions: Season 2 Sneak Peek (1080p, 1:46): A way too brief teaser for Season 2.
Overall: 4 out of 5
Fans of the series will not be disappointed with this set, and is a great primer for those that missed the first season. The Special Features are average, but the upgrades in video, and especially audio make this worthy of a purchase.