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Falling Skies: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1:78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 440 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 5th, 2012
  • List Price: $49.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4/5]

Falling Skies is a new series from cable network TNT and executive producer Steven Spielberg. The series tells the story of a group of survivors living together after Earth is invaded by aliens. It’s been six months since the invasion, and the survivors have banded together in a small town outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hoping to somehow fight back, the group (named the 2nd Massachusetts) is lead by Tom Mason (Noah Wyle). Also included is the commander Colonel Weaver (Will Patton), Tom’s son Hal (Drew Roy), and Dr. Anne Glass (Moon Goodblood). The series itself is well-paced, acted and packs in a solid amount of action/thrills.

I’ll be honest and say that the idea of aliens invading Earth, and humans trying to survive, is really nothing new. This idea has been done countless times before. But, something or should I say someone sounded different about Falling Skies. That name being Executive-Producer Steven Spielberg. Regardless of opinion on the man himself, he does bring a certain sense of quality to anything he touches. With that said, as soon as I had heard about his involvement, I knew I had to tune in on premier night. Boy, was I not disappointed at all.

Well-acted, paced, and with a solid sense of storytelling, Skies (outside of the excellent The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad), just may be one of the best, new series on TV. Even though I had said the alien angle had been done before, Skies felt different. I point toward the acting, in particular that of Noah Wyle and Drew Roy, as one of the strongest points. Initially playing as antagonists toward how to defeat these invaders, the two, eventually, know they must work together. The banter between the two plays off well adding a sense of tension, a sense of fear to the series.

It’s aspects like this, and the overall flow from episode to episode, that makes Falling Skies a series I highly recommend you check out.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The series’ 1:78:1 framed, VC-1 encoded transfer fares better than the original HD broadcast. Of big difference between the HD broadcast and this Blu-ray transfer is the series’ overall palette. I found the TV counterpart to lack any real punch or solid definition. Some may be quick to point to the tone of the series and label this a stylistic decision on the creators’ part. In comparing the 2 (thanks in part to still having the entire first season on my DVR), the wider exterior shots (mostly of the school yard) held more clarity. We could make out background detail that previously was not noticeable (stop signs, cars, etc). I’m not saying this is a huge difference, but something that is definitely noticeable. Other items like film grain are still present with a slight layer applied. This all helps to add to the somewhat dark, lack of hope elements the initial episodes carry. The print from episode to episode is in solid condition with no instance of scratches, damage or other anomalies that may plague the transfer. While the image is not completely perfect, I still found this to be an overly pleasing job by Warner, one which fans will approve of.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Falling Skies: The Complete First Season arrives with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Dialogue is well reproduced throughout the series, even though actor Noah Wyle does tend to speak a little bit on the lower side. There is no instance where the dialogue does drop out. The series-wide use of sound effects, whether the velociraptor sounding skitters or the revving of a motorcycle, all sounded fine. LFE is solid throughout, in particular thanks to the score by Noah Sorota has the kind of range to it that offers deep low end in some of the quieter, more haunting scenes (in particular one key moment during episode 8, of which I won’t reveal for worrying of spoilers). The mix also creates a sense of real-life atmosphere, building up during the heightened areas, then quieting down in other areas. All in all, this track suits the series well.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The supplements provided on this release are:

  • Falling Skies: From Pencils to Print: The Dark Horse Comic Book Revealed – This runs 16:29 and speaks on the origin of the series, based on the Dark Horse Comic series. This has interviews and comments from Dark Horse President Mike Richardson, as well as Paul Tobin, one of the lead writers on the series.
  • Animating a Skitter – This runs 4:01 and shows us these creepy, CGI creatures were created.
  • Falling Skies Panel: Comic-Con 2011 – Running 20:46, this is the full 2011 Comic-Con Panel, hosted by TV Guide Magazine Editor Debra Birnbaum. The panel features comments from all case members/creators.
  • Behind The Scenes – Here we’re given 2 brief behind-the-scenes features. The first is The Unknown, which runs 2:44 and brings up the topic of us not being alone in the universe. The second feature is The Second Mass, running 3:00. It speaks on what it would be like to lead all the survivors to a safe place.
  • Audio Commentaries – 3 separate commentaries are available for select episodes. The 1st is for the Episode ‘What Hides Beneath’ with Actor Noah Wyle, and Writer Mark Verheiden. The 2nd is for Episode ‘Mutiny’ with Co-Executive Producer Greg Beeman, Actor Noah Wyle, and Writer Mark Verheiden. The last is for Episode ‘Eight Hours’ with Director Greg Beeman, Actor Noah Wyle, and Writer Mark Verheiden.
  • Unanswered Questions: Season 2 Sneak Peek – This is a very brief glance, running 1:46, into what the upcoming 2nd season may hold.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Falling Skies, while not a perfect series, is engaging enough with solid thrills and acting. Warner’s Blu-ray for the series features improved video over the HD broadcast with a good lossless track and a few solid features. Fans of the series will definitely want to add this one to their ever-growing Blu-ray collections, while others will want to move this to the top of their rental queue.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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