Review: ‘Falling Water’ gets serious about dream-travel

Tom Long
The Detroit News

When did TV get so addicted to weirdness? Have we learned nothing from “Lost”? And how many storylines and characters can one TV series manage?

All these questions come up while watching “Falling Water,” the mind-bogglingly complex new show that debuts tonight on USA. By the end of the first episode you have little idea what’s going on; by the end of the fourth show the series is starting to gel a bit, but questions have been piled upon questions and soooo many characters have been introduced you need a scorecard.

Is this entertainment or an invitation to dizziness?

Both, probably. At its most basic, “Falling Water” is about dreams. Everybody has them. But what if you were able to move from your dream to someone else’s dream; and what if actions taken in dreams had real world reverberations? Trippy-dippy, huh?

The three people doing most of the dreaming here are Tess (Lizzie Brochere), a highly paid if rebellious trend spotter; Burton (David Ajala), head of security for some giant trading firm; and Take (Will Yun Lee), a New York City police detective. They don’t know one another and they don’t know what’s going on with their dreams.

In her dreams Tess is constantly searching for a little boy she thinks may be her son, but there’s no record of her having a son. Burton seems to be having an affair with a figment of his imagination in his dreams, but maybe she’s real somewhere. And Take is dealing with his now catatonic mother, who comes alive in his dreams.

This is just the starting point. As things move on you have group suicide, a study on interactive dreaming, a Belgian mystery man, a cult that wears green tennis shoes, blank-faced dream monsters (as well as various other dream monsters), murder, an obscure rock star and endless sketches of the little boy Tess thinks is her son. Oh, and some sort of grand conspiracy involving something called Topeka.

The idea of dream-traveling isn’t new — see 1984’s “Dreamscape” — but this is a good-looking and intriguing reworking of the premise (even if the show’s directors get a little carried away with water imagery). Brochere’s Tess is most central to the initial episodes, being emotionally ragged from the get-go, while Burton’s dreams become a bit repetitious (which is the point, but still). The hope obviously is that this becomes a companion in quality to USA’s hit “Mr. Robot.”

The question that lingers though, as it does with so many of these shows, is whether any of this will eventually make any sense and how far off that eventuality is. Are all these characters on a wild ride to nowhere? This is TV; we’ll have to wait and see.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.

Twitter: @toomuchTomLong

‘Falling Water’


10 tonight