TNT's alien invasion show Falling Skies has a secret weapon: Steven Spielberg. Spielberg executive-produced the show and gave the creators his ideas for making the aliens different than any we've seen before. If the guy who did E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind has alien ideas, you take them.
"I don't think we can overstate how involved Steven was in the creation of the aliens," executive producer Robert Rodat said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif. "God is in the details. He would weigh in on the amount of dust coming from a footstep because it would determine the weight you would sense from the alien. His attention to detail is what created the aliens."
Also, no guys in alien suits. No big-headed Roswell aliens. Executive producer Darryl Frank elaborated on the look of Falling Skies' aliens.
"From a Visual effects FX perspective, the important thing to Steven was to create aliens that didn't look like any before," Frank said during the TCA panel. "Steven oversaw everything from the design to the execution of it. The most important thing was to do something that looked scary. We have two or three different variations of aliens you see throughout the series, but something you haven't seen before."
Falling Skies picks up a few months after aliens have attacked Earth. The survivors are banded together to find supplies to survive on and come up with a plan to attack the aliens. The aliens even take over children, using an alien harness, to control them as drones. Spielberg had an idea about that, too.
"One of the very first things that Steven said, the thing that excited him was the idea that adults are killed if they're a threat, and kids are captured for whatever reason and changed or altered," Rodat said. "The harness was a logical outgrowth of that. We'll explore what the harnessing does to the kid over the course of the show."
To give credit where it's due, the harness itself was Rodat's idea. Spielberg suggested the aliens enslave and alter the children. Still working out some Temple of Doom issues? "The harness came from me, but the idea that they were enslaving kids and then the idea that the kid would be altered by their enslavement came," Rodat explained. "I started trying to figure out what's the mechanism for that. That's where the harness came from."
Falling Skies is coming in June to TNT.