October 13, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Falling Water”


FALLING WATER:  Thurs 10PM on USA – If Nothing Else Is On…

The pilot for USA’s FALLING WATER is flashy, but it doesn’t have much on its mind.  The project has had an extended period of development:  it was originally created by Henry Bromell, whose credits included I’ll Fly Away, Homicide and Homeland, and when Bromell died in 2013, the reins were picked up by Blake Masters, who created Showtime’s underappreciated Brotherhood.  Perhaps the disjointedness of the pilot has something to do with the resulting process, but what’s emerged, at least in the early going, seems like an uncomfortable mix of Inception and Netflix’s Sens8.

The pilot, credited to Bromell and Masters, has its hands full just sketching out the premise.  As in Sens8, the protagonists are people with nothing in common who interact on a different plane of consciousness, although in this case they’re all based in New York rather than scattered around the world.  Tess (Lizzie Brochere) has forged a profitable career as a spotter of trends, who sells her insights to designers; Taka (Will Yun Lee) is a police detective; and Burton (David Ajala) is the head of security for a high-class (and let’s take a wild guess and assume sinister) financial firm.  They don’t know each other, but they’re all having mysterious dreams, and since we can see all their dreams, we can tell that they’re sharing imagery and themes.  Meanwhile, a researcher named Boerg (Zak Orth) looks into the nature and meaning of shared dream experiences.

So, for example, Tess, who as far as she knows has never been pregnant, keeps dreaming of giving birth to a son, and Taka’s dreams feature a young boy who could be that son.  Burton, for his part, keeps dreaming of a mysterious woman in red who may be (have been?) his lover.  It’s intriguing, but so far no more than that, and even on a visual level, while pilot director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo gets to play with surreal imagery, none of it is as distinctive as any episode of Mr Robot.

The result of so much style over substance is a pace that feels sluggish, because there’s neither any real story to provide forward movement, nor any significant character development.  Brochere, Lee and Ajala merely feel like figures in a blueprint.

Eventually, one assumes, the dreams and characters will knit together, and the result will be some overarching narrative.  But as much as one may want to encourage novelistic storytelling, the kind that isn’t obligated to provide episode-by-episode thrills, Falling Water‘s offerings are on too slow a drip.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."