'Falling Skies' and visiting aliens

Noah Wyle stars as the leader of a

Noah Wyle stars as the leader of a group fighting aliens in the second season of "Falling Skies" on TNT. (Credit: MCT)

THE SHOW "Falling Skies"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on TNT

CATCHING UP An alien race made up of "skitters," "mechs" (armed-and-dangerous 'bots) and an evil overlord or two (so-called "slenders") have invaded Earth -- for reasons unknown -- and decimated civilization as we know it. But pockets of resistance have emerged and organized, and the war of the worlds is on.

Couple of key plot twists you should know about: Teens are "harnessed" -- mind-control devices are attached to their spines -- and can be de-harnessed, though there are remarkable and lasting effects; Also, the skitters may have been once harnessed, which suggests -- what? -- they too were once high schoolers from another world?

At the end of last season, Tom (Noah Wyle) had left Weaver (Will Patton) -- the leader of the 2nd Mass Freedom Fighters -- behind to go aboard an alien ship with Karen (Jessy Schram), another fighter who had been wearing a harness. Why? He thinks he may learn how to help his son Ben (Connor Jessup), who has also been harnessed . . . and maybe even learn a little something about the aliens' intentions. On Sunday, the fight continues and -- without giving too much away -- this plot point emerges: Has Tom somehow been compromised?

MY SAY "Falling Skies" has become a nice little franchise for TNT, and the reason simply are those aliens -- repugnant little spuds whose true motives remain hidden within their grotesque noggins. Why are these creeps here? Don't they have anything better to do? Why are they toying with this band of holdouts after having destroyed everyone and everything else? Those are compelling questions, although "Skies" has been less successful in making compelling human characters. At times they seem like cutouts in service of a boilerplate aliens-versus-humans sci-fi epic that we've seen a few dozen times before. That said, while Sunday's first hour, "Worlds Apart," is a bit gummy and plodding, the second hour, "Shall We Gather at the River," has plenty of sizzle. "Skies" fans should be pleased.

BOTTOM LINE "Skies" has made the bad guys intriguing, and now if it can only get serious about character development with the good ones -- humans -- then the second season will be a big improvement.

GRADES B- (the first hour); B+ (second hour).

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