Sunday, June 09, 2013

SEASON 3 BEGINS NOW!!!



EPISODE 301:  "ON THIN ICE"
EPISODE 302:  "COLLATERAL DAMAGE"

WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS HIDDEN BENEATH THE SURFACE HERE – IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE SPOILERS – RUN!


PART 1 - BEFORE WE BEGAN 

Wow!!  Season 3 is finally here!

You guys have been waiting for nine months!  But I’ve JUST now finished with post production and am already meeting with the writers, lining up directors and crewmembers and having creative meetings with TNT for season 4!!!

Considering that FALLING SKIES only makes 10 episodes a year, it’s an oddly round-the-year job for the head-writer, Dreamworks and myself.  

We completed shooting Season 2 in Vancouver Canada in February of 2012 and I concentrated, almost full time, on editing immediately upon my return to Los Angeles.  Because of the many visual effects and the complex sound design, postproduction – it takes a lot longer than most television shows.  We have the added benefit of not having to be on the air immediately, so this also allows us to take our time getting things right.  Nevertheless, the editing, sound mixing and color correcting process took me into May of 2012.   Which, ironically is just about exactly when the writer’s room started up.

I suppose Season 3, of FALLING SKIES really began for or me and the writers in May of 2012.  Remi Aubachon came back with most of the same writing team from last season, with the notable addition of John Wirth,  an excellent writer and veteran show runner who has been the head writer on many TV series such as THE DISTRICT and SARAH CONNER CHRONICALS.  John and I had worked together an eon ago with Carlton Cuse on the wild and wooly Don Johnson series NASH BRIDGES.  (There are many exciting tales from that era, but that is another story.)   The most notable writers-room loss from Season 2 was Joe Weisberg  who left our show to create another DreamWorks series FX hit, THE AMERICANS.

In early June we had our annual meeting with both Steven Spielberg and Michael Wright, the president of television of TNT.  

These are always exciting meetings to be in.  For one thing, being in a meeting with Mr. Spielberg and watching how his mind works is just a rush.  He truly gets excited about this series and when he gets on a roll, creative ideas flow out of his mind like a gusher.  Michael Wright is also an ideal boss to work for.  He loves FALLING SKIES and he has been it’s strongest advocate from the very, very beginning. 

One of Remi’s key ideas was that the third season was to begin many months after the final moment of Season 2.   The alien who stepped out of the pod at the end of the final episode was going to become an important character.  He told us he wanted to name their race “The Volm.”  Also, the basic construct of the third season, from Remi’s point of view, was that Tom and the 2nd Mass would now be housed full-time in the ruins of Charleston South Carolina.  Two storylines would proceed from this setting, one was that Tom and co. would be going out from the base of Charleston to do various missions, and the second was that Tom would have become president, and we would explore the political nature of rebuilding a new society.  Jumping forward in time would allow the writers to skip ahead past the potentially tedious mechanics of how all this came to be.  

Among other things, Mr. Spielberg was very interested in how the new race of aliens would interface with humanity and what the differences in their technology would be.  He wanted both their worldview and their technology to be very distinct from the Espheni.  Among other things, Mr. Wright has always been fascinated with the political aspects of New America and how Tom’s character would evolve as a Warrior/Statesmen.   

Within half an hour or so, the story meeting devolved into and exciting round robin conversation about “the end game” – where was this series headed and how would it end!”  It's a lot of fun when you have some of the top creative minds in the world tossing ideas around!

In the course of the meeting, as Remi described the role he saw the new alien(s) playing in the season, Mr. Spielberg suggested that Tom nickname him “Cochise,” as an homage to the famous Apache leader.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochise  

Remi felt it was important that the new alien be bipedal and relatively humanoid.  He really wanted to hire an actor to play the part, versus a fully CGI creation, so that our cast would have someone to really play scenes with. 

Beyond that - a fully CGI character would never be economically feasible to have as a main character.  Every time our motion-capture Espheni overlords appeared last year they were several thousand of dollars - per shot!

Figuring he was the foremost expert in the mechanics of aliens in cinema, I asked Mr. Spielberg his take on how he thought we could achieve this.  I was hopeful that we could create a prosthetic makeup suit, which Todd Masters ad Co. (our skitter creator) could design and that it could be enhanced by CGI later.  Mr. Spielberg was enthusiastic that this could work and offered me several tips in ways to make the process work best.

After that meeting, Remi and I met a couple of times as he was forming the storylines…   There were a handful of new ideas that were going to affect production and which we’d need to get ahead on.  Among the most important was designing Cochise and hiring an actor to play him.  The character who stepped out of the pod at the end of the season was fully computer generated.   While we needed the design to be as similar as possible to the CGI Volm, some modifications would have to be made in the design to fit human anatomy. 

Remi wrote some special scenes to audition Cochise and we began to make lists of LA-based actors and to audition Vancouver actors to play the part.  It was Todd Masters who suggested Doug Jones.  I was unfamiliar with Doug’s work at the time, but he is undoubtedly the premiere make-up suit actor in the world, probably in the world:   For God sake, he was ALL the creatures in PAN’S LAYBRINTH, he was Abe Sapien in HELLBOY, and he was The Silver Surfer in FANTASTIC FOUR 2….  And my irreplaceable assistant was most impressed by the fact that he was The Gentlemen in the “Hush” episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. 

Doug also has a significant non-makeup-effects resume as well.  Todd pointed out that, while it might sound like a great idea to hire an actor, unless someone knows how to wear 60 pounds of latex rubber covering their whole body and face for 14 hours a day – they will scream like little children and want to quit.

Todd also told us that the design and fabrication of the Volm suit would require 10 weeks.  Unfortunately, by the time the machinations of hiring Doug occurred… only 5 weeks were left.  Masters and Co. worked 24-7, but we didn’t quite have the face and body ready for episode 301.  So in some shots from tonight’s first episode Cochise is fully CGI and in some his body is practical, but his face is CGI.

The other MASSIVE project that took place was for Production Designer Rob Gray and the art department.  The key location in Season3 is going to be the above ground ruins and the below ground infrastructure of the city of Charleston.  By the time TNT picked up season 3, we had only 6 weeks to shooting…  Realize that this show has never had any sound stages to work from, the way every other TV show in the world does.

In season 1 we housed much of our story in a real abandoned school.  In season 2 we were all on the road and shot on location all the time.  We saw Charleston from afar and used an abandoned mall as our underground studios – but we’ve NEVER had a proper set. 

Now we were going to first take the Ajatan studios buildings which we’d used in season 2 and build a whole post-bomb city!   We were also finally going to recreate, on a proper sound stage, Tom’s office, a war room, a medical clinic two other bedrooms and two labs and a bunch of connecting corridor.

We also were going to build  a big new set walled “The Nest” which was to be Pope’s bar and hang out.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever done a small addition to your house, like add a bedroom or maybe you've remodeled a kitchen – but it takes more than 6 weeks!  Rob had 6 weeks from the time he arrived, suitcase in hand, to the time we started shooting to build EVERYTHING!!!  And to further hamper him - the money he had to do it can best be described as – highly inadequate.   Watching all of our new sets go up, knowing they were being produced with next-to-no money, was a marvel!  Rob is a superhuman!!!

But you’re probably wondering about the actual show too, right?

As you can probably tell, the first two hours were really written and filmed as two distinct episodes, and they were grouped together by TNT for the premiere.  Remi wrote the first hour, which I directed.  Brad Thompson and David Weddle wrote the second hour, and my old SMALLVILLE compatriot, James Marshall directed.

PART TWO – THE EPISODES

Remi discussed with me his vision for the opening act of Season 3.  He was definitely living in the “Go big or go home” philosophy.  His initial vision was to film the whole sequence on the ice glacier that exists about 50 miles north of Vancouver at Whistler Mountain.  I think the episode title “On Thin Ice” comes from that idea.

Now I’ve shot on the glacier before and it’s spectacular.  For the Season 4 finale of SMALLVILLE, when Clark Kent was transported to the fortress of solitude, we were able to pull it off.  But that was because it was a very small crew and there was no actor there besides Tom Welling, and it was the last day of filming for the season.  Tom and I flew in the first helicopter, at dawn.  Then two more helicopters transported our equipment in very slowly – and once everything was there we began filming with snowplows and snowmobiles to help move us around.  It was very slow work and I don’t think we did more than 6 or 7 shots all day.  Tom Welling and I have talked since, that that day on the glacier was one of the most spectacular days of our filmmaking lives.  But, as you can tell from my description, and if you’ve seen the opening sequence – there was NO way we were going to be able to achieve a scene as complex as the Season 3 opening under those kind of conditions.

I tried to get Remi to let go of his icy vision, and he did so…  If slowly.  I scouted for alternatives and found, after much searching, a rock quarry that was both spectacular and quite remote-looking.  I presented Remi the idea that it could be a mine, and that the skitters were using the harnesses kids to mine ore for some unknown purpose.  He accepted this, and encouraged me to invent the sequence based on the location.

What was important to Remi was that we introduced the characters in layers, first we see just Matt and Weaver and Jeanne.  They have one mission.  Then Ben and a new set of de-harnessed kids arrive, then Maggie and Hal and Pope and then when it becomes clear that a trap has been sprung on our heroes Tom, and our new ally Cochise arrive.
Beyond that, Remi let me use the environment I had to develop the specific details of the action.  He was in Los Angeles and I was in Vancouver and we communicated almost daily as I fed him ideas of the “we can’t do that, but we can do this…” variety.

It was Remi’s idea to have our heroes on horseback – and Noah fully supported this.  Noah has done some westerns over the years.  He’s a very good horseman, as is Will Patton.  Sarah Carter also used to ride horses competitively as a girl.  And even Connor Jessup rode horses as a kid on a series filmed in Australia called THE SADDLE CLUB…  SO  with his many experienced riders, and post-apocalyptic fuel running low, the question of horses becomes an inevitability – and here they finally are.

http://s71.photobucket.com/user/bearkiller1/media/ManyArmedGoddess.jpg.html


The other idea was that more Mechs came out from under the ground to trap our heroes and to show the audience that the whole operation had been leaked to the Espheni.  In the original script there were 4 or 5 regular Mechs who came from under ground.  This would require us building deep holes which the effects department could put pneumatic "shakers"  which would then be covered with both real and plastic boulders.    But I didn’t have the physical space for them.  And, truthfully, Remi and Noah and I all agreed that the Mechs have kind of lost their threat.  I felt like this was an opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile and that is to bring in a new bigger and more badass mech.
Why not just have two “Mega-Mechs?!”  So designs were drawn.  The idea would be that they would be huge and powerful with numerous arms – like Shiva 


The opening sequence was a monster to plan and shoot.  It had to be fully storyboarded and planned to a “t” – an then It took three full days to film, which is equivalent to, like, a year on a feature film.  And I was running around crazily the whole time – with two full camera units pointing in different directions filming different things.  For all three days we filmed from sunrise to sunset – there are about 800 separate edits in the sequence and 120 visual effects shots -  all that is a monumental amount for less than 10 minutes of TV.
And even so, there were ideas that never made it to the screen, either because we cut them our for budget or time reasons before we shot, or because I couldn’t get to them on the day.

Specifically:
Ben was supposed to drop in with four or five other de-harnessed  kids.  But the desender rig was complex and expensive so one-by-one we cut it down to just two kids.

I wanted there to be a second Mech guarding a high road above the quarry.  I had a cool scene where Maggie drove in, in the Humvee, while Hal on the 50mm gun blasted the big robot down.  The Mech was going to roll down the hill and take out an old guard tower.  We were going to use steel barrels rolling down the hill to accomplish this – but for time reasons we just couldn’t get to it.

There was also a scene which Remi really wanted where Pope leaped onto the back of a Mech, and while it bucked him around like a bronco he ripped off it’s (already disabled from battle) arm and then fired his weapon into it’s chest cavity until it was incapacitated.  We built a green-screen bucking bronco rig for Pope to ride, and we were going to drive it around on a little  gator-golf-cart contraption with both Collin Cunnigham and a stunt man riding at various times.  But a day or two away from filming, it became clear we were NEVER going to have time to get to it in our schedule – and so it was dropped.

There was one sequence that we filmed and then omitted in post production.  Originally, after the battle with the mega mechs was over,  A beamer came flying in from above to bomb the 2nd Mass.  Cochise leapt from his horse, grabbed a big Volm Cannon-gun and blew it out of the sky.  This was intended to demonstrate clearly the superior Volm technology…   But when the sequence was edited together, and after much deliberation – we all concluded that the scene was anti-climactic and we omitted it.

Beyond that - let me give you a few tidbits from the second hour...

Robert Sean Leonard is an old friend of Noah Wyle's and he was Noah's suggestion.  They did a movie together long ago called SWING KIDS

Gloria Reuben was suggested by Noah, TNT and Dreamworks almost simultaneously.  She had just completed filming on LINCOLN when she got to us.  She is a lady and a professional and I adored working with her,.

The flamethrower used to fight back the crusty kids was not scripted.  The stunt man and the effects team proposed it to the director on the night of filming.
 

The scene where Maggie blasts crusty kids in the hallway was not scripted, Sarah Carter and director James Marshall came up with all that badass action together and shot it all in less than an hour.

During the shootout in the woods there were so many automatic weapons fired so many times that the budget for the entire season of ammunition was used up in one night

The location of the nuclear power plant was an old paper recycling mill in Vancouver.  The nuclear towers and dome were added with digital visual effects.

On the day of filming of the opening scene of the episode, Conner Jessup had just taken a red-eye flight from flown Toronto, where he had received an award at a film festival, to Vancouver and had had no sleep.  He still got all of his dialogue perfect.

Some of the harnessed “crusty kids” were played by real children and some by little people who were stunt performers.  It took each of them over two hours to get into their makeup and a team of twelve special effects makeup artists to get them ready on the day of filming.

In the scene where Matt yells “You’re not my mother” to Anne, the director secretly told Maxim Night to yell an unexpected curse word to Moon Bloodgood, which resulted in her genuinely shocked reaction which you see in the episode.

Whew that's enough for now - enjoy the pictures and storyboards and I'll be back with episode 3 behind-the-scenes next week.







WEEKS BEFORE SHOOTING I TAKE THE CREW OUT AND SCOUT LOCATIONS


*  ROB GREY - HE BUILT THIS CITY   *




*   THE ACTORS GATHER FOR THE FIRST DAY OF PRODUCTION    *




*    BEFORE DOUG JONE'S COCHISE SUIT WAS READY WE SHOT THIS FELLOW IN A "GREY SUIT" TO TRACK A FULL-CGI COCHISE ON TOP OF   *


*   DREW ROY TESTS OUT HIS NEW SEASON 3 "WHEELS"    *





*   POP AND HIS GANG AT REST    *




*    NOAH WYLE KNOW HOW TO WORK A WHEELCHAIR AS WELL FROM HIS MANY YEARS ON "ER"   *



*     MPHO KHOA READY TO WORK  *





*    GOATS - A FAILED EXPERIMENT - WE LET 'EM RUN LOOSE ON SET AND THEY CAUSED HAVOC   *




*    MOON GETTING "PRETTY-IZED" ON SET   *


*    DR. BLOODGOOD IS THE ONLY HUMAN TRAINED TO WORK THE ALIEN DE-HARNESSEING DEVICE   *



*   THE YOUNG LADIES OF "FALLING SKIES"    *




*    I APPLY BLOOD TO THE CAST    *


*   Connor Jessup and Megan Danso    *



*   CONER RESTING UP BETWEEN BEATINGS    *




*    NOAH RIDES IN TO SAVE THE DAY (WHITE HAT IS THE ONLY DETAIL MISSING)   *




*   WILL PATTON LEADS THE TROOPS    *





*   A MOTLEY GROUP    *



*   THEN, FOR A DAY OR TWO DOUG'S SUIT WAS READY, EXCEPT FOR THE FACE WHICH WAS ADDED AS CGI (HE KIND OF REMINDS ME OF A "SPONGE BOB" CHARACTER LIKE THIS     *




*    I SUPERVISE THE DIRTY, DIRTY HARNESSED KIDS   *




*    THAT SKITTER HAD TO GO   *



*     DREW MAN'S THE BIG GUN  *




*   WHILE SARAH CARTER   KEEPS THE MEGA MECHS AT BAY *




*   PRESIDENT TERRY O'QUINN - MOMENTS BEFORE HIS ASSASINATION    *




*    ON SET WITH THE PREZ   *




*   NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK ROBERT AND GLORIA RUBEN    *




*   DIRECTOR JAMES MARSHALL INSTRUCTS THE CAST FOR A SCENE IN EPISODE 2   *





*   JAMES MARSHALL AND REMI ON SET    *




*   DREW OY CONSULTS WITH HIS DIRECTOR    *



*    JAMES MARSHALL WATCHES A TAKE WITH DP NATE GOODMAN   *



*     THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS  *





*   MAGAN DANSO FIRED AN AUTOMATIC WEAPON FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS NIGHT...  AND THEN FIRED IT AGAIN... AND THEN FIRED IT SOME MORE....  ALL NIGHT LONG    *


*    THE WARRIORS AWAIT THE BATTLE   *




*     CONNOR AND MEGAN  *



*    ROBERT SEAN LEANORD IN HIS LAIR AS PROFESSOR KADAR To create the character of Dr. Kadar, actorHE donned a pair of smudged glasses, a wig which Falling Skies hair stylists coated in grease and a half cup of stage dirt.  He had a lot of fun!  *



*  NOAH TAKES A PICTURE OF HIS OLD FRIEND ON OF HIS FIRST DAY WORKING     *




*   "   --        JARED KEESO PLAYED "LARS" - INTERESTINGL, EVEN THOUGH LARS DIES IN EP. 2 THIS PHOTO STAYED UP IN THE HAIR AND MAKEUP TRAILER ALL SEASON...   HMM.... PROBABLY JUST BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF WOUND APPLICATION   *



*    BLOOD IS APPLIED ON SET   *


*     AND THE CAMERA IS SET UP FOR MAGGIE TO RUN TO LAR'S AID  *



*   LUNCHTINE ON SET ---EVEN A CRUSTY KID HAS TO EAT    *




*     ROB GREY - HE BUILT THIS CITY PT. 2  *


BELOW IS A PARTIAL SET OF STOYBOARDS FOR THE OPENING SEUQUENCE OF EPISODE 1...  NOTICE THAT THERE WERE SOME THINGS PLANNED AND EVEN SHOT THAT AREN'T IN THE SHOW LIKE (1) POPE LEAPING ONTO A MEGA-MECH, RIDING IT AND BLASTING IT TO BITS AND (B) COCHISE SHOOTING A BEAMER OUT OF THE SKY...







































11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Still dont know why cochise ailens is here?

The Regenerate Degenerate said...

hate to correct you but it was MY idea to put tom on a horse. Excerpted from your Q&A blog post:

" The Regenerate Degenerate said...
Hey, just one question. Why aren't the fighters riding horses yet? Tell me it wouldn't be a logical and totally badass method of fighting aliens. Also it would create imagery that would play to the revolutionary war motif that's woven through the story. It's just a thought I've had since I started watching season one.

Answer: Okay. Great idea! I’ll mention it to Remi! Maybe we'll see horses in Season 3 as gas and diesel get harder to find and/or make."

Anyway... Great job on the premiere. Can't wait for the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

I was so excited for the premiere, and shame on you and TNT for making us wait 10 months!! And thank you for explaining the name Cochise. Last night I was thinking "Are they saying Goat Cheese? Toe Cheese? What the heck??" :D

настя сидорович said...

So, I am delighted with the season beginning, it was tremendous! ! ! To all characters paid attention and it pleases. I am glad to hear about the 4th season! ) To tell the truth, I hope you don't separate Hal and Maggie, after all after reading of some interviews we know that probably this season will end for them with a gap... These two deserve happiness, I hope you them further don't separate.The gap between the seasons big, I understand you can not do more than 10 episodes, but you can increase the duration of the series, such as 55 minutes What do you say?

Alan Turing said...

Two points:

1) you have continuity error in the opening sequence-- how does weaver and co. get into a moving truck that crashes through the fence if it doesn't stop first???

2) Hal uses a twin M2HB 12.7x99mm rig... These are called .50cal meaning the bore is actually .500 inch in diameter (actual diameter is .510) not 50mm. A 50mm would be a full sized cannon and certainly would not used on Humvee.

Other then that your go big or go home opening was well just not that impressive...

Erin said...

This show has become my new obsession! I'm a 54-year-old mom, and my kids think I'm too old to run away and learn to be a producer, but just to be involved in some way, I'd be happy to be your blog's proofreader (I'm a writer and editor by trade)... just so I can see this stuff earlier than everyone else! I really enjoy all the behind-the-scenes tech stuff -- working my way through the entire blog and loving the detail you provide!

Aldenata said...

@General Thoughts:

Been watching Falling Skies since the very beginning, and I find the central premise most compelling. If nothing else, it's one of the few shows out there that doesn't focus on cops, spies, pawn stores, or alligators.

Always been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and there's been an awful lot of it going out on the small screen lately: Jericho, Jeremiah, V09, Walking Dead, Revolution, Hard Core Pawn (That is post-apoc? Modern Detroit ain't really like that, right?)… then there's that Defiance thing over on the Syfylus Channel. I'm sure there's others.

Unfortunately, most of them have been… terrible. I await the day they try to tackle A Canticle for Leibowitz with a mix of anticipation and soul-rending dread.

Falling Skies? Well… I did like it enough to write a fanfic (Eh? What is that strange shuddering noise I hear?), but beyond that?

Steven Spielburg pulled a Tom Clancy on you, didn't he? Came up with the basis of Falling Skies, drops in every now and then to give y'all some pointers but for the most part has little if any part in the actual execution. Suspected it some time around Prisoner of War and your mention of an annual meeting lends credence thereto.

I don't mind the time-leaps between seasons. It causes problems sure, but it also gives the impression that humanity is fighting a protracted war against a superior force and not just a background event where the main characters can settle whatever problems arise in a 44 minute period (usually). I'd say the seasonal pacing is quite good, and wish the episodic pacing was too.

Short episodes: lots of folks complaining about that. I ain't. May not like it, but it's the trend these days, especially in shows that require lots of effort and high budgets like Military Sci-fi. V83 had few episodes for its day and I don't think more would have improved it.

You know what happens when the screentime of a series outpaces the imagination of the writing staff? Star Trek: Voyager happens. By all means, do whatever it takes to keep Falling Skies from turning into Star Trek: Voyager. I ain't going to complain about that, not when there's so many other things to complain about:

@On Thin Ice:
1. Remi wanted to do the filming on a glacier? For a film set in South Carolina?

*googles Whistler Mountain*

Snow? No.

Here in Georgia, we get snow on the ground for about three days out of the year. Over there in South Carolina, they get snow on the ground for about three days out of the decade. Bad enough is the conspicuous lack of cotton or tobacco fields bounded by palmettos or loblollies, all covered with Spanish moss or kudzu… but a glacier? Do tell your friend Remi that the only significant ice formations he'll find down here are in the tea.


2. Mineshafts are more believable, though you still have to get pretty high into the Piedmont to find any.

What were Skitters supposed to be doing there, anyway? Were they looking to resume mineral extraction, occupying it to deny minerals to us, using it for general shelter, something else? Knowing intent would go a long towards understanding their greater strategic plans.

Aldenata said...

6. What about those Volm-tech M-16's? How are those supposed to work? It looks like some kind of coilgun technology, but would it not be simpler to build such weapons from the ground up, rather than rebuild a pre-existing one?

If not, if turning an M-16 into a coilgun is as easy as converting an AR-15 to full-auto, then it makes a lot more sense. I've mentioned before that 5.56mm is too anemic for an enemy with an exoskeleton like the Skitters (kudos on arming the Berserkers with M-14s in Season 2, by the way), and it's reasonable that the Volm try would to improve the ballistics of the 5.56mm cartridge first. Increasing muzzle velocity to a significant fraction of the speed of light would most certainly improve the ballistics.

It would surely ruin the rifling of the barrel, but I ain't sure if that would matter. You'd probably be replacing the standard 5.56×45mm NATO chemical-propellant cartridge with a big magnetic slug (good way to save on gunpowder, by the way), so no more exhaust gasses. That means you either redesign the action or rechamber the weapon manually. Recoil would be an issue, but I don't know how much of one. It's really all beyond my level of book-learning (read: willingness to google it or ask some of the smart folks on Baen's Bar).

Lourde's gun: no idea how that works. "Gaussing" an M-16 is a stretch, and I don't see it scaling all the way down to sidearms.

7. The whole "New America" thing. Is it not a little… pretentious? This community spent most of it's life pretending to be morlocks and they've still yet to secure their own county. A legitimate successor state they are not.

8. In any event, President Mason doesn't seem to preside very much. Only three American presidents (Washington, Madison, Lincoln… and possibly Jefferson Davis) have ever set foot on an active battlefield while in office; the old kings used to do it fairly often, but they also had fewer political obligations than most modern mayors (medieval autocracies were surprisingly autotomic; they would do just fine even if the ruler was dead or absent).

Then again, it is shown that he never wanted the job and only serves as a charismatic figurehead whilst Maria and Manchester actually run things. In which event disregard this point.

9. Goats… yes, goats can be a handful. Chickens and pigs make for the most basic, idiot-proof farm critters, methinks. Historically, not many Southern households were without them even in the cities.

10. Probably a moot point now, but why was Bressler not put in front of a firing squad? He ordered the murder of human allies as well as de-harnessed children, and the suspect list shouldn't have been too long. Given the severity of what happened (allies the 2nd Mass attacked by a group of trained humans armed with the MilSpec weapons found in Charleston), Anthony should have been looking into that long before the mole started causing trouble.

11. Anthony's talk about motive seems a little asinine, seeing as the mole is almost certainly not acting on his or her own free will. If there is anyone in Charleston who has a vested interest in or openly expresses a desire to see the place destroyed, I'm pretty sure they'd be promptly stuffed into a straight-jacket... or did y'all not learn your lesson from renegade Ricky?

Aldenata said...

@Collateral Damage:
1. Depleted your ammunition budget? Should have spent less money on your ski trips/film shoots on that glacier.

I'm joking, of course; both Gulf Wars saw the US military come close to depleting their munitions stockpiles, so I can't hold it against you. We survivalist types have a saying that if you know how many bullets you have, you don't have enough.

Realistically, you would see a large portion of Charleston's population involved in the munitions industry. Anyone not currently expending ammunition would spend the bulk of her time repacking ammunition (I say "her" because in the Civil War it was often the job of Confederate soldiers' wives, mothers, and children to serve their logistic needs, especially when the fighting came to their own back yards; I grew up not far from the ruins of a cannonball factory that was staffed almost entirely by local women).

2. Wauconda? Waut?

There is no nuclear station by that name in or anywhere near South Carolina. The instructions sounded like they would have put them near the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station, but if the Espheni only have one plant up and running they would probably want it to be Oconee, it being the most powerful in the South.

Incidentally, many if not most inland nuke plants are cooled by artificial lakes. If you want to shut one down, it probably wouldn't be a tall order to bomb the floodgates. Not sure what ecological effect that would have; expect to put a significant portion of your state underwater if nothing.

3. Charleston has a nuclear reactor? Dr Kadar reenacted the Manhattan Project all on his own down there in that sub-basement?

Lots of subterranean space down there. How did they keep it all from flooding without astronomical costs and energy expenditures? Charleston is a low-lying coastal city built on sand and clay with a history of major earthquakes and hurricanes. Not the best place for an underground shopping mall.

4. The family drama seems a bit forced, and it gets worse in later episodes. In times like these, I think schooling would be less about "reading, writing, and arithmetic" and more about "windage, elevation and parallax", things that young boys seem to enjoy. If Matt still doesn't like it, then Tom should pass on the wisdom of Comrade Mao: an army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.

More Americans should read Mao. Sure the guy was worse than Hitler, but he was also a military genius—if Hitler taught us anything, it should have been to listen up when the enemy puts to pen his plans for destroying you.

Aldenata said...

5. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like this show was originally planned as Military Science Fiction with elements of Family Drama. Sometimes it feels more like a Family Drama with elements of Military Science Fiction, to put it charitably.

You could get higher ratings by moving the sliding scale all the way over to FD and keeping it there; lots of sappy types in the audience these days and not many of the RA Heinlein/PK Dick set still allowed in civilized company. But is ratings all you're looking for? The kind of people who will rewatch a TV series years after it first aired don't do so for the sappy drama. Do we still watch Star Trek for all the touching, dramatic interactions between Wesley Crusher, his mother, and his crewmates? No. We watch it for all the socialist indoctrination.

(Actually, I don't know; my mother's the resident trekkie in the family.)

6. Y'all have my approbation on those creepy crusty kids. First time I saw them, I was starting to wonder if y'all had plans for a Walking Dead crossover.

Why is this the only time we see them? Seems like they'd make excellent foot soldiers, compared to the much less effective harnessed mob from the first season.

7. Now that Alexis is a six-year old (wow, NEVER saw that one coming!), is someone going to ask her why she felt it advantageous to play mind games with mommy? Did she just think it was funny?

(Okay, maybe she did. Babies are kind of evil at times.)

Even if you are a spy, why would you want your mom to know it? Why not drive President Daddy crazy instead?

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