Friday, April 9, 2021

Falling Skies S1 E5: Silent Kill

"Studying them is our best chance at figuring out how to stop them."


The fifth entry in the series makes good use of suspense in what might be best remembered as the rescue of Ben episode.

Falling Skies, Season One, Episode 5, Silent Kill is another solid entry in the series ongoing alien invasion versus humanity story and it's once again a pleasure to watch it slowly and sometimes silently unfold.

It's worth noting that much of the suspense written for the entry was generated by scriptwriter Joe Weisberg. This would be the first of just three entries by Weisberg who would exit after a story for Season Two. Weisberg would become the king of television suspense when he departed Falling Skies to create, write and produce six exceptional seasons of The Americans (2013-2018), a truly underrated gem of television exploring the tensions of the cold war through two Russian spies and their family during the Reagan years and the 1980s when technology surely had its limitations.

Falling Skies, is replete with technological prowess, and was all the better for Weisberg's input too. The series is built upon actual, tangible monsters as much as it may rely upon some still solid CGI.
The resulting effort, Silent Kill, is a quality installment in the impressive science fiction drama.

For all of my complaining over the years about the CGI and special effects work in things like the Marvel franchise, Falling Skies offers some relatively spectacular production work on a TV budget. All of it is ultimately well-grounded by the human dynamics of the series something Weisberg would demonstrate to great effect on The Americans.

Director: Fred Toye. Writer: Joe Weisberg.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Falling Skies S1 E4: Grace

"Heavenly father, for everything you've given us, and especially for our connection to each other, may we be truly thankful. In the name of the father, of the son and of the holy spirt. Amen."

While the episode is filled with skitters, harnessed children and suspense, it's the final faith-filled scene in Falling Skies, Season One, Episode 4, Grace that wins the day for this writer. The site of humanity banded together, holding hands in prayer and love at 2nd Massachusetts Headquarters, John F. Kennedy High School (Acton, MA; the invaders haven't reached it yet clearly) is the timely reminder of what is most important to us--our love and thanks to God, our love of community and the love we have for our fellow man. Putting aside our differences in moments of grace is a truly beautiful thing. Lovely stuff. 

One of the most fascinating science fiction aspects of the series being explored is the impact of the harness on the human children with the suggestion of body horror in the vain of something like the transformative sci-fi of District 9 (2009) or Pandorum (2009) but with a more accessible touch. This is an interesting aspect to the series.

With Grace Falling Skies (2011-2015) continues to compel with just the right mix of human drama and thrills. It may not have the kinds of literate complexity and plotting of something like James S.A. Corey's adapted The Expanse (2015-present) series (my other half would declare "this show is just too damn smart for me to follow"), but it's a hell of a lot more interesting regarding the human component over something as overly simplistic as Battle: Los Angeles (2011). Falling Skies manages the thrills with real moments of human grace.

Director: Fred Toye. Writer: Melinda Hsu Taylor.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Phoenix (In Watercolor)

My efforts to paint continue.

I had wanted to do something from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (1972-1974) a.k.a. Battle Of The Planets (1978-1980). I had really wanted to paint the G-2 or G-4, but ultimately settled on the queen mother of all mech equipment on the series in the form of The Phoenix, also a mad favorite.

As you can see I have added the nose accordingly. For a time I played with adding the G-4 operated by Keyop, but decided against it. These things are always imperfect, because it's ultimately an artistic expression. Even animators express a creator's design. These are just fun interpretations of some of the most wonderful designs in animation and a great way to create something personally rewarding. Anyway, see for yourself.

The images I took note the progress over a few weeks. It's not an overly complex piece but it's vibrant. It's always fun to see it come together and this one went as quick as transmute to the fiery Phoenix herself.

Once it was completed, I looked at a few potential mattes for the painting (as noted at the bottom in samples), but settled on the final product (the last image), which included a kind of red velvet matte with a terrific frame made of stars. I thought it looked a bit patriotic with all of the red, white and blue despite the irony of it being a Japanese-created design by Tatsunoko Productions.

Anyway, onto the next one. G-Force!