WonderCon 2011: 5 Lessons Learned From TNT’s FALLING SKIES Panel

As we inch closer and closer to its June 19th premiere, it should probably come as little surprise that the marketing campaign for TNT and executive producer Steven Spielberg’s FALLING SKIES is kicking into high gear. That said, what certainly did come as a surprise, at least to this TV Addict who knew very little about the show heading into yesterday’s panel at San Francisco’s WonderCon 2011 was just how good the series looks. But hey, don’t take our word for it, here are five lessons learned thanks to writer Melinda Hsu, executive producer Mark Verheiden and star Drew Roy after the jump.

FALLING SKIES is not your typical invasion story
“We didn’t want to do the big invasion spectacle because [executive producer] Steven Spielberg has already done that,” explained writer Melinda Hsu. Which is why, rather than witness hordes of defenseless humans run away from all-too-powerful aliens War of the Worlds style, FALLING SKIES is thinking different. “We really wanted to do a different take,” admitted executive producer and writer Mark Verheiden. “The show picks up six months after the initial attack — where following the destruction of earth’s major cities and an electromagnetic pulse that disabled everything with a transistor — humans have been able to get over the initial shock and focus on how to fight. It’s an entirely different sort of tone.”

Twilight Fans Welcome
By bringing Drew Roy to WonderCon, who plays the elder son of Noah Wyle’s professor turned freedom fighter Tom Mason, FALLING SKIES was sending a clear message to fans who might not ordinarily tune into this type of show: When the ragtag group of the Massachusetts Militia aren’t fighting for their lives or busy rescuing their offspring from the aliens who have a nasty habit of kidnapping and implanting earthlings ages 12 thru 18 with bizarre mind-control devices for purposes that we’re not quite sure of yet… love is in the air. “We’re still living life as we did before and throughout the season there are several different woman or girls,” said young heartthrob-in-training Drew Roy coyly. “A young guy sees a cute girl and he’s going to want to talk to her. I enjoyed embracing several of woman.”

You don’t need PhD in LOSTology to enjoy the show
Despite the fact that the series was primarily written by Melinda Hsu, whose credits include LOST and VANISHED, TNT’s mandate was no flashbacks. In fact, thanks to a two-hour premiere penned by Saving Private Ryan’s Robert Rodat, the show shares far more similarities with the hit Spielberg movie of the same name. In otherwords, fans weary of mythologically dense driven series like LOST and to a much lesser extent THE EVENT, or FLASHFORWARD needn’t be. “In the same manner in which Saving Private Ryan showed a group of men land on the beaches of Normandy with little knowledge except their mission at hand, FALLING SKIES will see characters forced to bond with each other and figure out what’s going to keep them going,” explained Hsu. “There are no people holding out secrets, it’s we’ve got this problem how are we going to survive.”

It just looks cool
The one quote that really stuck in our head since walking away from the panel was Mark Verheiden’s response to a fan question that asked about the thought process that went into designing the aliens on the show which are a curious mix of six-legged spider type creatures called Skitters and two-legged mechanical robots referred to as Mechs, both of which don’t quite look like anything we’ve ever seen on either the big screen or small. “Sometimes cool is the reason.” Which pretty much sums up our overall feelings about FALLING SKIES. Simply put, it just looks like the perfect summer show. And while we’re the first to admit, having only seen a handful of clips that we have no idea as to the quality of the series in its entirety. There is something undeniably exciting about watching a group of people from all walks of life (Educators! Military! Ex-cons! Oh My!) putting aside their differences to fight against a common enemy. Particularly when Noah Wyle’s character tosses out lines like “Retreat, regroup, return, revenge” in response to Moon Bloodgood’s doctor character asking what they’re going to do next.

There is such a thing as too much marketing
Falling under the category of not cool is our last point which — aside from the fact that Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood were completely M.I.A. — was the panel’s one downside. Fans who have spent good money to attend WonderCon (or any Con for that matter) shouldn’t feel as though they’re being marketed to. Now don’t get us wrong, we get that it’s called showbusiness and not showfriends for a reason and understand full well that the purpose Networks and Studios spend the time, energy and money to bring talent both in front and behind the camera to these types of events is to get the word out. That said, it’s incredibly tacky and off-putting to continuously remind your audience who to follow on twitter and how to properly hashtag #fallingskies. Memo to Network and Studio types responsible for planning these types of events: The focus of any panel should be on delivering a cool and memorable experience that fans will talk about organically (see: CHUCK).* Suffice to say, if you build it, we will tweet.

* Note: Our final point should in know way be seen as knock against Jenna Busch, the panel’s moderator, who did a fine job of running the show!

For all the latest TV news and reviews

  • Ramstein418

    why do ppl keep saying dontt worry there’s no mythology like lost in “new show X” like its a good thing…no over-arcing story or mystery just makes me less interesting in watching this now