Noah Wyle leads the hu­man race vs. aliens in TNT’s ‘Fall­ing Skies’

The Daily Herald - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATE O’HARE

When the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion broke out, few in Europe gave the rag­tag colo­nial upstarts much of a chance against the armies and navies of Great Bri­tain, the pre­em­i­nent power in the world.

But much like when the Bib­li­cal hero David stood against the mighty Go­liath with only his courage and a sling­shot, it’s of­ten a mis­take to dis­miss the un­der­dog.

On Sun­day, June 19, TNT pre­mieres “Fall­ing Skies,” a science-fic­tion drama from ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Steven Spiel­berg. It takes place six months af­ter an alien in­va­sion has dec­i­mated hu­man­ity and ren­dered its elec­tronic tech­nol­ogy use­less. The sur­vivors band to­gether and be­gin fight­ing back.

Among them is the 2nd Mas­sachusetts, a re­sis­tance move­ment led by sol­dier Weaver (Will Pat­ton) and his un­likely sec­ond in com­mand, Bos­ton his­tory pro­fes­sor Tom Ma­son (Noah Wyle), wid­owed in the at­tack.

Ma­son uses his knowl­edge of the mil­i­tary tac­tics of the past to battle the pow­er­ful, ad­vanced in­vaders.

Also star­ring are Moon Blood­good as Anne Glass, a pe­di­a­tri­cian-turned-field physi­cian; Drew Roy as Hal, Tom’s teenage son; Maxim Knight as Matt, Ma­son’s younger son; and Con­nor Jes­sup as Ben, the last of Tom’s sons, cap­tured and en­slaved by the aliens.

Round­ing out the cast are Sey­chelle Gabriel, Colin Cun­ning­ham and Sarah Carter.

Over a break­fast of eggs, ba­con and sausage at a beach­front ho­tel in Santa Mon­ica, Calif., Wyle — still wear­ing the scruffy beard he sported as Ma­son — and a be­spec­ta­cled Blood­good talk about tak­ing dif­fer­ent paths in this pro­duc­tion.

Wyle is best known as the com­pas­sion­ate Dr. John Carter in NBC’s long-run­ning “ER” (also pro­duced by Spiel­berg), and Blood­good made a splash with her role as a battle-hard­ened pilot in the fea­ture film “Ter­mi­na­tor Sal­va­tion,” which she reprised in the video game.

“Moon and I have done a trans­fer­ence in this job,” Wyle says. “She’s the med­i­cal of­fi­cer, and I’m the war­rior, fight­ing in a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world.”

As to why he took the part, Wyle says, “I vet­ted it by my 8-year-old son, who told me I ab­so­lutely had to do this job to win his re­spect and love. And I get paid for it.

“This is some­thing very dif­fer­ent for me. This is both a genre and a type of char­ac­ter that are dif­fer­ent.”

It also didn’t hurt to have Spiel­berg at the helm of a pro­duc­ing team that in­cludes Justin Falvey and Dar­ryl Frank of DreamWorks Tele­vi­sion, Graham Yost (“Jus­ti­fied,” “The Pa­cific”), and screen­writer Robert Ro­dat (“Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan”), who wrote the pilot from an idea he con­ceived with Spiel­berg.

“I knew,” says Wyle, “with Mr. Spiel­berg’s in­volve­ment, the aliens and the space­ships would look cool. And I was re­ally in­ter­ested in the other side of it, this no­tion of hav­ing a re­set but­ton on so­ci­ety. Press it, and ev­ery­body would be thrown back into this 19th-cen­tury mode of ex­is­tence.

“We could, as sur­vivors, be­come the au­thors of the next Con­sti­tu­tion, the next Gospels. You can cre­ate the tem­plate for the next civ­i­liza­tion. It won’t be in your life­time, but it might be in your grand­son’s life­time. But this will be borne out; you will be­come the new Found­ing Fathers.

“We’d be able to cherry-pick the best as­pects of hu­man­ity.”

Al­though he’s play­ing a fight­ing man, Wyle’s years as a TV doc­tor did come in handy.

“He was al­ways giv­ing me tips,” Blood­good says. “But he was giv­ing me the tips that make me look like a rock star, that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the things we’re go­ing to do in this med­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.”

“There’s medicine,” says Wyle, “and then there’s tele­vi­sion medicine.”

“Ex­actly,” says Blood­good, “and he was giv­ing me the tele­vi­sion medicine.”

“When you’re do­ing tele­vi­sion CPR,” says Wyle, “it’s good to bang the gur­ney with your thigh. It makes the bed shake, and makes it look like you’re re­ally pump­ing away. It’s much cooler to open a sy­ringe with your teeth, but they get re­ally up­set when you do that in a real hos­pi­tal.”

“I got to sit back,” says Blood­good, “and watch them do­ing all the mil­i­tary stuff, the gun train­ing and all that. It was nice to not be a part of that. I didn’t miss (my gun). It was get­ting a lit­tle mo­not­o­nous.” Wyle even got to pick his own gun. “They laid them all out,” he says, “and they wanted us to grav­i­tate to­ward the gun that we prob­a­bly would have cho­sen. I fig­ured a his­tory pro­fes­sor would go with the tried and true AK-47.”

Af­ter all, if guns were use­less against the aliens, there wouldn’t be much of a se­ries.

“They die just like us,” Wyle says. “They have vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, and we learn more about them as we go. There’s a re­ally good thing that I can’t tell you, but it’s a good twist.”

“Fall­ing Skies” pre­mieres Sun­day on TNT.

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