Stop us if you've heard this one before. Aliens have landed on Earth and they have not come in peace. While most of the world's population has been killed, a ragtag group of survivors stage a resistance.
This is not a new idea to TV. We've seen V's Fifth Column and the U.S. government in The Event take a stand against threatening extraterrestrials, so what makes TNT's Falling Skies, which premieres on Sunday at 9/8c, different? "We haven't been canceled yet," star Noah Wyle deadpans.
Be that as it may, the show's cast and producers offered five real reasons why they think Falling Skies (produced by some guy named Steven Spielberg) could work better — and last longer — than more recent stabs at the genre.
Beware: Some of their answers might still seem, well, a little familiar.
1. It's all about family, says Moon Bloodgood: While many of the characters see their loved ones perish in the alien invasion that takes place six months prior to when the series begins, Tom Mason (Wyle), a former history professor, finds himself alone caring for his remaining two sons (another son has been taken by the aliens, but more on that later). "It's about people, and it's more about this family, and the people around this family, than it is about the aliens," says Bloodgood, who plays Anne Glass, a pediatrician who's also lost her only child (Sounds like Stargate Universe, no?). "That human element of it is very much the primary story. I think we do a good job of having a marriage of science-fiction and human drama."
2. The aliens are using the children. Tom's middle son, Ben (Connor Jessup), has been kidnapped by aliens and implanted with a mind-controlling harness. And although Tom's youngest son, 8-year-old Matt (Maxim Knight), is far too little to join in on the fight, Tom's eldest son, Hal (Drew Roy), has taken up arms against the aliens alongside his father. His sole mission is not to help the resistance group survive, but rather to rescue his brother. "He's my middle brother," Roy says. "[He's] a bit of a geek and I've picked on him a lot, but now that the aliens have gotten him, you can't pick on my brother. I can, but the aliens can't. So, [Hal is] arming himself to handle business."
3. The humans aren't just fighting aliens, reveals Jessy Schram: When faced with the extermination of your race, some people will do anything to survive. "It comes down to who you become and how you can survive amongst your fellow people," says Schram, who plays young resistance fighter Karen. "Yeah, you're hiding from aliens, but it's more about who you can trust, and what happens when one person turns against the group." Much of the human-on-human violence is caused by a new group of fighters — led by Collin Cunningham's John Pope — who use unorthodox methods to gain power.
4. The mystery behind the invasion is different — really: Falling Skies finds its main characters on the road, searching for salvation — or just one night of peace away from the alien attacks. But executive producer Mark Verheiden says that, during the group's travels, the real action comes from the mystery surrounding the attack. "Why are the aliens here? What do they want with our kids? Why aren't we all dead? And what does that mean as we go forward and take the fight to them?" Verheiden says. "I think we have an unfolding mystery that's quite a bit different than we've seen before."
5. There's slow-burning love on the battlefield: There's nothing like a near-death experience to bring two people together. Tom and Anne quickly form a bond after the attacks. "More than anything, you see a friendship," Bloodgood says. "You see two people that respect each other, who both lost spouses and family. Slowly, you will see something evolve, but it's so subtle and more towards the end. You don't want them to just jump in the sack together after losing a spouse. You have to respect their past, so it's very organic."
Falling Skies debuts Sunday at 9/8c on TNT.