you were expecting a television series based on the
Terminator movies to be a case of
Terminator of the week, then we'd be happy to disappoint you here.
human characters in Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles never
have to face a new terminator threat each episode in the same way that a
teenaged Clark Kent had to face a new Kryptonite-spawned monster in the
early seasons of Smallville.
Instead this 2008 TV series takes a leaf out of the
Battlestar Galactica series bibles and basically tells a single
narrative instead of opting for the more traditional standalone episode
structure. That makes Sarah Connor Chronicles ideal viewing on DVD
as you don't have to lose the basic thread of the series and can just slot
in the next disc instead.
Sarah Connor Chronicles basically follows up on
Terminator 2: Judgment Day and largely ignores
the events chronicled (no pun intended) in
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Sarah Connor was played in the
movies by Linda Hamilton of course, but is portrayed here by
300 actress Lena Headey.
Sarah (as if you didn't
know it) is the woman whose son John Connor will one day lead the human
resistance against SkyNet, the computer tasked with running the North
American defense system. SkyNet of course instead decided within minutes of
being activated to rather wipe out humanity altogether by triggering World
War III. The second liquid man terminator has been vanquished and the brain
behind SkyNet is dead, which means that technically Sarah Connor has changed
the future and humanity is saved.
Of course things aren't that uncomplicated - especially if
you have a lucrative franchise to milk. Also when one thinks about it
logically Sarah Connor cannot change the future and destroy SkyNet ? who
else would be sending all those terminators back in time to kill her son
then? Logic aside, Sarah keep on trying however - and why shouldn't she?
In this series there are several plots and subplots
running all at the same time.
A new terminator in female form is sent back by a future
John Connor to protect his teenaged self and his mother. The 27-year-old
Summer Glau, better known to sci-fi fans as the chick from
Firefly, plays this new Terminator.
Glau comes off best of all the principals. Not only is she
quite good as the emotionless and coldly logical machine trying to
understand messy human emotions, but she actually looks young enough to pass
as a high school student (she is 27). At 20 Thomas Dekker (of
Heroes) however looks too old to pass
for fifteen. Headey on the other hand simply looks too good at 34 to be the
mother of a teenaged son, but she is at least the same age Linda Hamilton
was when she made the role famous in T2. (Edward Furlong who played
the John Connor role in Terminator 2 originally was actually about 15
years old at the time.)
subplots involve SkyNet sending a rather persistent terminator named
Cromartie into the past to kill John Connor; Sarah Connor trying to elude
capture by just as persistent an FBI agent; and our heroes trying to change
the future by thwarting SkyNet's machinations.
It seems that in 2019 time
travel is quite common. So common that those time travel machines are
probably busier than some terminals at JFK airport!
For starters, the future
John Connor has also sent teams of human resistance fighters through time as
well, whilst SkyNet has done pretty much the same to ensure that it will not
just get built in the first place, but that it will be prepared for the war
against the humans. In-between all this the characters have to cope with
their own interpersonal relationship issues. The teenaged John Connor is,
well, a teenager; the Glau terminator becomes more human as time progresses
? or is she? And so forth.
THE DISCS: All nine 50-minutes episodes are
contained on three discs, running 367 minutes. Episodes are presented in the
1.77:1 aspect ratio in which they were filmed. (Thirteen episodes were
commissioned, but only nine were made because of the recent Hollywood
Except for English subtitles there are no extras except
for about four minutes? worth of ?terminated? (or rather deleted scenes).
The deleted scenes aren't that great on their own and might as well have
been included in the original episodes as they flush out a plot point here,
a characterization aspect there.
WORTH IT? Ultimately Sarah Connor Chronicles
is neither as good as one would have hoped nor as bad as one might have
feared. It remains lazily watchable, but never attains the dizzy heights of,
let's say, Battlestar Galactica, that other sci-fi TV show dealing
with humans vs. machines. Still, one feels quite cheated that there are only
nine episodes instead of the usual thirteen or more which usually make up a
RECOMMENDATION: Anal fans of the original Cameron
movies might bitch endlessly (why isn't Headey as ripped as Hamilton? why
mess so much with the movies' original mythology?) but The Sarah Connor
Chronicles ain't all that bad. It luckily avoids the repetitive
?Terminator of the week? plot device for most part. While some episodes are
better than others, it is still amazing to see how easily special effects
from early 1990s blockbusters can be replicated today on a TV show's budget
thanks to, ironically, advances in computer technology . . .