When you’re an outnumbered and outgunned ragtag army taking on a vastly superior invading force, it helps to have powerful friends.
That was the situation facing the American rebels battling the British during the Revolutionary War, when the French arrived to help save the day. And that’s also the situation of the beleaguered humans fighting the alien Overlords and their Skitter minions for the right to live on planet Earth in the TNT drama “Falling Skies.”
Returning Sunday (June 9) for its third season, “Falling Skies” stars Noah Wyle as Tom Mason, a widowed father and former history professor who finds himself having to put the lessons of the Founding Fathers into action as leader of the fighting 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment.
When we last left Tom, the elder two (Drew Roy, Connor Jessup) of his three sons had fallen under alien influence to varying degrees, youngest son Matt (Maxim Knight) was growing up fast, and Tom and love Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) had just learned they were expecting a baby.
“It’s a biological necessity for the survival of the species,” Wyle tells Zap2it of the anticipated blessed event. “There’s a certain air of sobriety about bringing a child into this particular world. But nonetheless, it’s necessary.
“It consummates the relationship between Tom and Anne. They’ve healed themselves from their grief and what they’ve lost and are committed to starting anew. It’s a huge turning point in their relationship.”
And despite his protestations to the contrary last season, Tom has also, like George Washington before him, answered not only the military but the political call of his nation.
“When we find him this year, he is in fact the president of the United States, which is 14 square blocks around Charleston, South Carolina,” Wyle says. “It’s more of a ceremonial title. He’s gone back on everything he said he wanted to do at the end of last season, and we find him in a completely different place.”
Tom has also made an alliance with a new race of aliens, the Volm, who have shown up and offered their assistance.
Says series executive producer Remi Aubuchon, “I thought it would be nice if, all of a sudden, it looked like we were doomed with the Overlords, and how fun it would be if we had the French to come help us, only they’re aliens.
“I don’t want to spoil everything, but I think what’s fun about the parallels is we never really quite knew what France’s secret objectives were, if there were any. But if you’re being pummeled to death with superior weapons, it’s always good to have someone who has a big stick as well.”
The Volm’s General Lafayette is called “Cochise,” and he exists in more than just pixels.
“Initially,” says Wyle, “it was going to be this sort of a CGI-designed alien, then they thought, ‘Let’s do ourselves a favor and cast us an actor to play the part, then we can digitize it.’ So we had something three-dimensional to work with.
“Then they took a step further and got Doug Jones. He was in ‘Hellboy,’ and he played the Silver Surfer. So he is the motion-capture master, he and Andy Serkis, so we were quite fortunate to get him. It was a joy to play with him.”
The season was fun for Wyle in other ways as well.
“For me,” he says, “it’s a lark, getting to be an adult and going to work every day and playing cowboy. It’s fun to strap on your six-gun and ride the horse, shoot the aliens. I’m just trying to look cool to my 10-year-old son.”
“Falling Skies” has a two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on TNT.