We here at GFR have had a love/hate relationship with TNT’s Spielberg-produced alien-invasion series Falling Skies. Over the course of its two seasons, it’s had moments that hinted at greatness, but they were all too often sandwiched between mediocrity. It’s back now for a third season, but one of the guys who had been steering the ship up to now is departing the show just as it has the potential to get interesting. But we can’t fault showrunner Remi Aubuchon too much…he’s leaving to write science fiction novels.
Speaking to Collider, Aubuchon opened up about his decision to leave the show to chase a dream he’s had for years:
It was excruciating. I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve had this life-long dream of wanting to write science fiction novels. The unfortunate thing that I figured out is that, when you’re a showrunner, that’s all you can do. I just felt like, if I was going to do that, now was the time. I have a strong affection for the people I worked with and for the show itself. Maybe if I were 20 years younger, I wouldn’t care and I would just keep going, but I really feel I need to pursue this road.
It’s a ballsy decision to be sure. Managing to work your way up through the TV trenches until you’re running a show, that’s one of the huge milestones any writer working in TV dreams about. Hell, there are about a zillion waiters in Los Angeles who would give their left arm for a shot at that kind of gig. It takes a lot of gumption to leave an established show to go gamble on success in another medium.
Aubuchon also used the interview to talk about one of the show’s best new elements this season, the mysterious new alien amusingly dubbed “Cochise.” He’s played by the lanky and amazing Doug Jones, who’s brought tons of memorable creatures to life, from Hellboy’s Abe Sapien, to Pan Labyrinth’s Pale Man, to Legion’s creepy-ass demonic ice cream man. The show initially considered making Cochise an entirely CGI creation, but they eventually cast Jones, a decision that actually ended up increasing the character’s role in the season.
What we, as writers, wanted was real interaction between the human actors and our alien. We wanted there to be intimate scenes where they’re touching or at least in close proximity with each other. While Noah [Wyle] is a master at acting with a tennis ball, which is what he had to do for the Espheni, we felt strongly that we needed a real actor there (for Cochise), who could interact with them, as a character on the set. We went through a lot of iterations. We were talking about motion capture and wearing the suit with the dots. I’ve been a fan of Doug Jones for a very long time, and certainly since Hellboy. I kept asking people, ‘Is that CG?,’ and they said, ‘No, that’s actually an actor in a suit.’ I said, ‘I don’t understand how that works. How does he make it come alive?’ And then, I watched Doug work. The suit that we have for Cochise is just a piece of rubber, but when Doug puts it on, it comes alive. We are very lucky that we were able to get a master like Doug to portray that character. It saved our butts. We probably would have had Cochise on screen for about a third or maybe even a quarter of what we were actually able to have, because of the expense of doing motion capture and CG.
It will be interesting to see how Falling Skies plays out in the aftermath of Aubuchon’s departure. The show is currently three episodes into its third season, so it should wrap up this August. The two-hour season premiere’s ratings dipped slightly from last year’s premiere, but still did decently in the cluttered Sunday night TV lineup. No word yet if TNT will seek a fourth season, but if ratings stay consistent I’d say it’s got a good chance. Let’s just hope the writers have another season of stories worth telling.