TNT's "Falling Skies" picks up three months after last summer's season finale that saw heroic historian-turned-freedom fighter Tom Mason (Noah Wyle, "ER") wander into the belly of a spaceship belonging to aliens who attacked Earth.
The two-hour season premiere (9 tonight) begins with a friendly fire incident involving Tom's son, Ben (Connor Jessup), who was rescued from the aliens last season. Flashbacks explain how Tom manages to rejoin the human resistance and include his conversations with an alien leader who uses an enslaved human, Karen (Jessy Schram), as his mouthpiece.
The alien orders Tom to lead the humans into a "neutral zone," not unlike an internment camp, causing Tom and the alien to argue about human history.
"I would be careful to draw too many lessons from the past," Tom says, "because our history has yet to be written."
Attempts to draw parallels to life on Earth are few and far between. Mostly "Falling Skies" concentrates on the freedom fighters' efforts to blow up alien technology.
The two-hour season premiere addresses the still-nagging question of what impact the aliens had on Ben. Could he still be under their control? For that matter, could Tom be compromised by the time he spent aboard the alien ship? Tom's oldest son, Hal (Drew Roy), doesn't think so, but troublemaker John Pope (Colin Cunningham) isn't so sure.
The second hour of the season premiere deals with Tom's own concerns about his memory loss from his time on the alien ship. "I don't trust myself, and you shouldn't either," Tom says, worrying that the aliens messed with his mind. Turns out they meddled elsewhere.
"Falling Skies" remains a dark show -- visually and thematically -- with pinpricks of brightness often found in the heart-to-heart conversations Tom has with his children, who are growing up in a war zone.
"Falling Skies" is at its best when it deals with the most human of subjects. It may be less exciting, but these scenes are more meaningful. At least the show makes an effort, on occasion, to be about more than blowing up multi-limbed alien bugs.
But at its heart, "Falling Skies" is an action show similar to a long line of us-against-them series with its resistance movement bringing to mind the late "Jericho" and the alien overlords reminiscent of "War of the Worlds."
It's not deep, meaningful TV, but "Falling Skies" is OK summer entertainment for fans of breezy, things-blow-up-easy programming.tvradio
Rob Owen writes this Sunday TV column for Scripps Howard News Service. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.