We've seen a lot of alien invasion stories before, but you have to give Falling Skies credit for at least taking a different tactic than most. Rather than showing the full-scale chaos of aliens attacking us (a la War of the Worlds or Independence Day) or the slow build, "Something bad is going to happen…" vibe of V, Falling Skies begins after the aliens attacked – and we lost.

Noah Wyle, in his first ongoing series role since ER, stars as Tom Mason, a college professor turned resistance fighter. Traveling with a group of survivors, Tom is trying to protect his sons, Hal (Drew Roy) and Matt (Maxim Knight), and hopefully, somehow, someway, take the planet back from the aliens who have killed so many and sent everyone else fleeing.

Yes, Falling Skies has some similarities to The Walking Dead, which also began its story after a major, apocalyptic event that would usually be the prime story in a film. But first off, let's get out of the way that Falling Skies has been in the works for a long time and was in production well before The Walking Dead premiered last fall – for those quick to jump to the "It's a rip off!/They only made this show because Walking Dead is a hit!" reaction. And secondly, Falling Skies is a good show that has its own tone and mood and pronounced differences from The Walking Dead – most notably that Falling Skies picks up further down the road, and involves a much more organized and militarized force on the human side.

Like a lot of pilots, Falling Skies is heavy on exposition and some things are hit on the head pretty hard, such as Tom's background as an expert on the history of war and how he can constantly bring up examples from history that could prove useful in the current scenario. Admittedly, Tom's skill set is pretty interesting for this scenario ("We don't have to kill them all, we just have to kill enough of them," he notes at one point). It's just a bit too awkwardly laid out for us a few too many times.

There's also some small subplots, such as a potential love triangle between Hal, his girlfriend Karen (Jessy Schram) and the quiet Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) that feels completely trite – not to mention silly to even begin, because Karen is so cool, kick ass and feisty (like Hal, she's right there in the thick of things with a machine gun, fighting aliens) that Lourdes doesn't remotely feel like competition.

Noah Wyle in Falling Skies

Wyle is very good in the role of academic turned ass kicker, and is joined by a strong cast that includes Moon Bloodgood, playing against type a bit from her more action-oriented roles as Anne, a pediatrician whose medical skills are coveted in this scenario, and Will Patton, playing right within type as the tough leader of Tom's group, Weaver, whose approach is often at odds with Tom's.

On the sci-fi front, there are some intriguing elements established early on, such as the fact that the aliens have been taking children – including Tom's middle child, Ben (Connor Jessup) – that set up potentially cool storylines for the future. And while the FX and action are within TV-budget limitations, they get the job done, and there are some clever and well done sequences, such as a battle with an alien inside an abandoned Costco-type store. The premiere offers two types of aliens - the main alien "skitters" (think an HR Giger shaped alien head, albeit with a very different face, placed on an arachnid body) and their robotic minions, nicknamed "mechs." Both look to be pretty damn formidable and come off as credible threats.

The two-hour premiere of Falling Skies is actually comprised of two episodes, which is very clear while watching – the second-half tells a much smaller-scale story, involving Tom and company's run in with another group of survivors led by Pope (Colin Cunningham). Pope is a bit hard to buy into - With his mixture of shifty criminal background and off the cuff witticisms, he's very "TV character", but he has some great dialogue (the second part of the premiere is written by Justified showrunner Graham Yost) and Cunningham has a lot of fun with the role.

Drew Roy and Moon Bloodgood in Falling Skies

A scene in which Tom and Pope discuss their respective -- and very different -- reactions to a world gone to hell is very good, with Wyle and Cunningham playing extremely well off each other. We also meet Margaret (Sarah Carter) in the second hour, an associate of Pope's who is tough as nails and gets a very cool moment, showing how dangerous she can be.

Falling Skies boasts a notable producer in Steven Spielberg, who came up with the idea for the show with his Saving Private Ryan screenwriter, Robert Rodat, who wrote the first hour of the series. The intent is obviously for Falling Skies to mix the alien-fighting with the human interaction stories, complete with the requisite (but still compelling) look at the conflict humans would have amongst themselves in this kind of scenario. I liked the second hour of Falling Skies quite a bit, though I wonder if it should have been held for at least a couple more weeks into the series, so as to not feel so completely different (and alien-free) as the first hour. But together, the premiere offers a good overview of the world these characters are trying to survive in and I'm curious to see where the series goes from here.

Falling Skies premieres Sunday, June 19th at 9pm ET/PT on TNT.