Last year I started watching this show on TNT, Falling Skies—the second season premiered last night. It’s about a band of resistance fighters after aliens invade our planet. Not a new concept by any means. The idea of it calls up V and Independence Day and The Walking Dead and pretty much any post-apocalyptic ensemble drama ever made.
But it has high production values and very good writing. There’s a strong, sustained level of tension, a big goal with small episodic goals, and most importantly, a great cast of complex, flawed characters portrayed by actors with excellent chemistry.
The central character is Tom, played by Noah Wyle (aka John Carter from ER). And I can’t stop thinking about him!
Tom’s a former history professor and father of three sons who has become the military captain’s second in command. His knowledge of history (including military history), his people skills, and his strategic mind have made him a valuable asset to the Second Massachusetts (who at this point is pretty much alone in their fight against the invaders).
But Tom’s motivation is mainly keeping his sons safe. His oldest is a scout and fighter, now about 17. His youngest is maybe 9, caught between everyone trying to keep him safe and wanting to do his part in the fight. His middle son is a young teen who was taken by the aliens, who tried take him over. (That’s what they do—control the kids to do hard labor while slowly turning them into…something.)
Tom comes very close to being a Mary Sue. He’s conflicted and does have flaws, but he pretty much always does the right thing. And I don’t care! Maybe because Noah Wyle is delicious. Maybe because he’s a good actor, or the writing maintains just the right balance so he doesn’t really get annoying. But for some reason, I can’t get him out of my head.
Has anyone ever done that for you? A character on a TV show or in a movie, or the hero or heroine of a book? What made them so compelling, especially if there are logical reasons for them not to be?