Falling Skies: The Complete Fourth SeasonOverview -
Aliens have attacked the Earth, and they won. Now, a small group of survivors surrounding major cities around the world must band together and rebuild some sort of society. Not only must they figure out how to work together, they must figure how to eliminate the new alien race who have taken over their planet. Tom Mason (Wyle), a Boston historian, has his family torn apart. His knowledge of how civilizations are born makes him an ideal leader for starting over. But his desire to reunite family lead him down a path more dangerous than planning a society. Everyday people must become heroes, normal humans must make priorities between family and civilization. The idea of what was always known is destroyed, and they must redefine existence. Above it all are a race of aliens to whom humanity is nothing. As Season Four opens, The Mason clan and the remaining 2nd Mass suddenly find themselves under brutal attack by a new Espheni war machine.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
I know there aren't as many 'Falling Skies' fans as there are 'Walking Dead' fans or even 'Battlestar Galactica' fans, but there is a decent size number of loyal fans that still love and enjoy TNT's flagship show 'Falling Skies'. TNT had a potentially huge hit on their hands back in 2011 when this series debuted. It had a post-apocalyptic Earth overtaken by mean aliens, new technology, and a cast of good characters, including Noah Wyle in the lead. To top that, it had Steven Spielberg as the show's big executive producer. Needless to say, there was a lot going for 'Falling Skies' some four years ago.
Over the course of four years, the show has lost some of its audience due to some inane plot devices, very cheesy dialogue, and characters that go nowhere. Still, the show has a loyal following, but nowhere near the numbers that other networks have for their own flagship series, which is probably one of the reasons that 'Falling Skies' fifth season will be its last, which has already started. I just don't think TNT has the big talent behind it like AMC, FX, or HBO does, that keeps their shows running with a cohesive glue that keeps you coming back for more each week.
Don't get me wrong, 'Falling Skies' is interesting enough and leaves me hanging with suspense all of the time, but more often that not, I'm let down, because of a storyline or character that doesn't follow through on something important, a bad line of dialogue, or a conflict that we've seen done so many times before in other shows, but were executed better than this one. The intentions are good with 'Falling Skies', especially with this fourth season, but it never really follows through all the way with anything. Even with the new showrunner David Eick (the executive producer on the reboot of 'Battlestar Galactica'), the action and melodrama never mix all that well, and never finds it perfect balance. And when Eick's storylines cross into the 'Battlestar Galactica' territory in this fourth season, things are no properly done, or at least not in a convincing way.
With all of the romantic angles, alien battles, and new overall solutions to the human survival plan, nothing seems to stick, which tells me the staff is just trying to get through the fourth season in order to make the fifth and final season one big hell-raising finale. There are twelve episodes in season four rather than the usual ten episodes and basically picks up right where season 3 left off, with a big win for the humans, taking out one of the Espheni's major ships. However, the celebration is short lived as a new Espheni war machine and new big bad alien come into the picture and try to destroy Tom Mason's (Wyle) crew and the 2nd mass.
Tom and his band of survivors are split up in the attack and are kidnapped and held hostage. At one point we find out what the big bad Espheni is really after, which is more or less a big let down for fans of the show. There are plenty of good moments in season four though with some great battles, a few deaths, and a focus of what Tom wants to do to destroy the aliens for good, which will be the big part of season five. In my opinion, this fourth season is more or less just a big set up with some good key moments for the bigger, better final season. Still, us loyal 'Falling Skies' fans will keep coming back for more, despite the show's short falls.
'Falling Skies: Season 4' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This is an improved video presentation from Season 3 with brighter and better saturated colors and better detail. Seasons 1-3 do look good, however most of the colors are on the dull side of things and the detail is somewhat soft. Fortunately for season 4, these aspects have been improved on. Colors are still on the dull side, due to the post-apocalyptic world, but there are tons of rich and bright colors that simply pop off screen throughout now in the form of costumes and other small instances.
They are well saturated with the contrast levels being where they should have been in seasons 1-3. The detail is great as well, with well-defined closeups that reveal all of the dirt, grime, and wounds on the actor's faces. The detail is still mostly sharp on the heavy CG effects of the aliens and their ships. The black levels are mostly deep and inky and the skin tones are natural when in a well-lit area. There are still some instances of video noise here and there, but not near as much as previous seasons. It looks like TNT has finally solved their video presentation issues here.
This release comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix and sounds fantastic. This post-apocalyptic sci-fi show sounds impressive and fully immerses you in this harsh world. The sound effects and ambient noises are all well balanced and pack a good punch most of the time. The gun shots, alien blasts, explosions, and heavier action scenes are all robust, lively, and loud. There is some great directionality here as well along with a very good layered sound that provides a good amount of depth.
When there isn't a battle or action scene, the dialogue is mostly soft and quiet, leaving this mix more or less a front heavy track. That being said, when the action rolls in, your speaker system will get a great work out. The bass has a good rumble to it and the dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, despite the soft voices. There were zero instances of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills too. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Inside the Episode (HD, 23 Mins.) - Every episode comes with a brief behind the scenes mini-featurette, with cast and crew interviews and on set footage of some of the major moments.
Tom Mason: A Man of Tomorrow (HD, 21 Mins.) - The main character of the show Tom Mason, played by Noah Wyle, finally has a big bonus feature all to himself. This extra discusses the character of Tom Mason and his attributes, flaws, and background with interviews with Wyle and the rest of the cast.
2014 Comic Con Panel (HD, 53 Mins.) - The series creator and the cast of the show answer questions at a lively panel at San Diego Comic Con.
Episode Prequels (HD, 18 Mins.) - There are six mini-episodes or prequels for this season, all of which last a couple of minutes each.
Character Interviews (HD, 8 Mins.) - Here are several very short interviews with the main cast on season 4 and their characters.
'Falling Skies: Season Four' isn't my favorite season of the series, but it serves more as a set up for the fifth and final season of the show, which has already started. This isn't a show with a huge budget, not does it have the big talent behind it that wins numerous awards each year. However, it has a good enough setup, execution, and story for it to keep my interest, along with its many loyal fans, despite its many flaws. Season four has fantastic video and audio presentations, and the extras are all worth watching if you're a fan of the show. If you're new to the series, you'll be completely lost here, but if you like the series, this comes recommended.
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