Terrance W. Klein on 'Falling Skies'

The Rev. Terrance W. Klein, professor of theology St. Bonaventure's University and author of Vanity Faith, catches up with TNT's hit sci-fi series "Falling Skies," and finds its take on American culture none too, um, alien.

I recently enjoyed a barbeque at the Connecticut home of a former student and his wife. The topic of backyard wildlife came up, the most fearsome being the largest snapping turtle they had ever seen, although they assured me that a mountain lion had also been reported in Connecticut. That lead to the topic of guns, and my host reminded me that his grandfather, a former Marine, still sleeps with a handgun under his pillow. “Loaded?” I said.


“Of course. Not much use if it’s not loaded.”

His wife expressed—at least to my mind—a correct abhorrence of household guns. Yet even though one’s chance of being shot increases significantly with gun ownership, nothing seems able dim the American romance with firepower. 

You can catch a glimpse of America’s ballistic soul on “Falling Skies,” the popular new summer series on TNT produced by Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks USA. Always clairvoyant when it comes to the American zeitgeist, Spielberg may have caught the cadence of the Tea Party. In the winsome words of one youth, “Just remembering, what was it? Seven or eight months ago, you wouldn’t let me ride my bike over to Julian’s at night because I didn’t have a bike light. Now you’re offering me extra ammo.”

Why is that? The show’s premise could not be more trodden. Aliens have invaded earth, though in this series one searches in vain for their presence beyond American borders. Who cares about the rest of the planet? They have landed on American soil! All electronic devices have been instantaneously disabled. The child-voiced prologue explicates: “computers, radios, satellites, cars, TVs...everything!” The only thing standing between us and them are guns, handed out to anyone who can use them, even a 15-year-old Dickensian waif named Jimmy (Dylan Authors). 

We might have been able to defend earth if we had nuked the “Skitters” when we had the chance, but the federal government wavered. Given that the series is set in the immediate future, one can only surmise that the aliens arrive before the 2012 election, when American foreign policy was still under a misguided policy of “Ask questions first, then shoot.”

Read the rest of his review here.

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7 years 6 months ago
We fail to realize that America is a land of refugees and that virtually every refugee group arriving to our soil have recent memories of what an unarmed civilian population faces whenever the government or some hostile force chooses to premise their politican goals on the application of state, party, or faction use of kinetic force....

Ergo, it's not so mysterious that America has always been a place with a romantic idea of the private ownership of firearms! Only someone who has never met a Jew, a Vietnamese, Korean, Croat, or any number of other immigrants would think it's insanely improbable to fear the arbitrary imposition of deadly force on 'we the people'.

But the article is about a sci-fi television show with a crazy premise - aliens invade. OK fine, so let's go with this improbable scenario: hostile, murderous aliens invade in the author's ideal America where all firearms are under lock and key in the exclusive care of the police and army and no civilian owns them or knows how to use or maintain them.... now, given the sci-fi scenario.... how does the author propose the scenario would play out? Stridently worded letters from the UN and the New York Times fail to dissuade the aliens from their genocidal campaign. Peace marches by the vaunted Peace Movement result in a pic nic massacre. OK, then what?

At least the messy and risky Armed America of reality whereby some 40 million Americans own 400 million weapons and a few trillion rounds of ammo creates a bit of a problem for any would-be invader, alien, foreign or domestic!

Look at Chicago and Washington DC where civilian ownership of firearms is illegal and the ideal of a police and security apparatus monopoly exists.... does it result in less gun crimes or more? More. Is that a tolerable result of a policy or only tolerable because the majority of the civilian population - our fellow citizens so affected - happens to be black?
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 6 months ago
I probably would not be able to watch this kind of TV series.  It sounds like a lot of guns, fear of the enemy, and patriotism all rolled into one. 

When, oh when, is Catholicism going to offer people a real way to live without fear?  Isn't this the message Jesus brought?   I mean, if I could find just one Catholic Church in America that was committed to the ideal of loving ones enemies without being political I would have some hope.  But I can't find one.

Stanley Kopacz
7 years 6 months ago
Aliens who can't shoot straight.  They have technology to traverse stars but can't hit a moving target.  I guess the technology of rifling gun barrels eluded them or even some rudimentary fire control.  It is so Hollywood.  Compare that to the leaked videos of helicopters killing at a distance with deadly effect.  I guess I just have to add that to other annoying movie errors like actors wearing flat panes of glass in fake spectacles, obvious in reflection.

Best alien invasion TV series of the last few years was "Invasion".  Of course, it was cancelled before the alien agenda was revealed.  Often, the denouement proves disappointing after the buildup.  For instance, if you came to steal minerals, why not just take the asteroids where metals exist as free elements?
7 years 6 months ago
I am still thinking about the ending of Fr. Klein's post.  I am wondering if his article is some subtle anti gun attempt.  The first thing that came to my mind reading the post however, was the motto on the New Hampshire license plates,

''Live Free or Die'' 

But also is perpetual servitude, if that is what the children are being offered, not another form of hell.  What is our vision of hell, if one believes it exists.  Is it fire and brimstone, perpetual servitude, or something else such as the knowledge that you are forever left out of the presence of God?   Who knows what it is.

But on earth, ''Live Free or Die'' sounds good to me knowing that true freedom is later.  Sounds like an interesting series.  Will see if the PC police get to it.


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