TNT’s latest hit TV series, Falling Skies, brings the intense aftermath of an alien invasion to life. The show’s pilot, which has received critical and viewer raves, was viewed by a record (for cable this year) 5.9 million sci-fi fans. Executive producer Steven Spielberg has assembled a cast very familiar with video games.
Noah Wyle starred in both NBC’s long-running E.R. TV series and the spin-off video game from Legacy Interactive. In Falling Skies, he plays Tom Mason, a former tenured American History professor from Boston University.
“He’s a single father of three boys, but one of them has been captured by the aliens,” said Wyle. “He’s trying to keep his family intact and alive in the context of being given the greater responsibility of caring for a group of 300 civilians, who he’s asked to lead out of the city of Boston to a very uncertain future.”
The show already has a free online tower defense video game available, which allows fans to type in their home address only to see a Google Earth version of their property bombed by aliens. Players then can pick an environment and strategically set up weapons and troops to combat alien invaders.
“I played a lot of arcade games growing up like Pole Position, Asteroids, Galaga, Centipede, Defender, Pac-Man, Kung Fu, and Punch-Out,” said Wyle. “The only arcade game I didn’t get into was Donkey Kong.”
Wyle stuck with gaming as the console industry was born and the arcades disappeared.
“As systems got more and more sophisticated and I started making more and more money, I would buy them all and try them all out,” said Wyle. “I went through the whole Sega phase. I had the first PlayStation and Xbox. I have an eight-year-old son and that’s the point of negotiation at our house. I still play on PlayStation.”
“I did two video games and those were a lot of fun,” said Bloodgood. “I had to go into a booth and it was nothing about what I looked like. It was just what you were hearing and the direction was great. Every word was analyzed and picked apart to make sure it was real. But then there’s an element where you still have to be in a video game, and if I’m saying, “Watch out, John,” I had to really use my projection.”
Bloodgood said she learned a lot from her video game experiences, especially from voice actors who make a living off of video games and animation projects. She actually spent time watching them work in the booth, and learned how to put their entire body into their performances.
“I kind of stole from them because when they’re walking in the game, they’d actually get up and start walking and using their body and making little noises and gestures,” said Bloodgood. “They fully commit. I would love to do more video games. They’re a lot of fun.”
Bloodgood grew up playing arcade games and the classic consoles.
“I played everything growing up, and I’m still a big lover of Ms. Pac-Man,” said Bloodgood. “They’re nostalgic for me. I don’t know how many arcades still exist but I love them. On the consoles, I remember playing Street Fighter and then Mario Bros. and the Nintendo phase. I grew up with that generation that discovered video games. Now I’m completely out of my element. I tried to play Call of Duty and actually that’s wicked. That is so violent and amazing, and addictive, and just nauseating. It’s crazy.”
“My grandma was a gamer,” said Roy. “Her favorite game was Big Nose [the Caveman]. I don’t know if any of you guys know that, but it was a great game. Today I have an Xbox 360. When I first moved out here there were six of us in these two one-bedroom apartments. We were on this Halo kick, where we were just playing Halo non-stop all day long, just plowing through it. We were on Legendary and then one day the Xbox got the old red circle around the start and it just fried. So we decided we should probably just scrap the Xbox and not get another one because we were wasting all our time on it. But then after things start working out and we were getting jobs and we had a little down time, I had to get another one.”
Roy’s already thrilled with being in the Falling Skies comic book, but he thinks the TV universe would also work as a first-person shooter game.
“There’s been talk about having a video game and if they do it I hope they put the time into it, because I wouldn’t want them to just have a video game with the logo just for the sake of having it,” said Roy. “It could definitely be a cool first-person shooter in a Halo-esque kind way. I felt like I was in a video game when I was shooting that gun on set.”
Those guns Roy brandishes on in Falling Skies each have a unique name, but it’s not Smith & Wesson.
“I’ve always loved Zelda,” said Roy. “I played the very first Zelda, then the 64 Zeldas and all the others. I would always name my guns on set. The little gun I had on my chest I named Moses. The first gun I had before it gets taken away from me was called Pocahontas, and then the second gun was Zelda.”
TNT has already ordered a second season of Falling Skies, which gives the studio more time to develop additional video game tie-ins moving forward. It also gives fans of the show something to look forward to as this new sci-fi universe expands.