Sunday, January 06, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles review

So I meant to blog about this a few days ago, but as those of you who listen to my podcast know, I've been sans internet for a little while now. Intermittently, like now, I seem to be able to steal it from a nearby coffee shop but for the most part my household is currently unplugged.... A truly sad and shocking state of affairs. That said, forgive my semi tardiness.

I recently saw the pilot for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and I thought I'd share some thoughts. There will be some minor spoilers here, but nothing more than what I've gleaned from the first episode. Read on at your own risk.

So this new series , as I've discussed at some length here, follows the adventures of John and Sarah Connor alongside a new terminator ally, played by Summer Glau of Firefly fame, as they evade a new baddie Terminator from the future who, as usual want to stop John from ever becoming the leader destiny foretells. The story takes place in between the films Terminator 2 and 3 although through an odd set up twist at the end of the first episode it will actually be in current day (2008) as opposed to 1997 or whenever would make sense for John to be a teenager by the films timeframe. I think in the Terminator timeline the film Terminator 3 takes place in 2013 though, so they're all good for a few years of television. And I guess by their own time travel logic of T2 they can technically change the events of Terminator 3, but I definitely don't think that is the intention here. Terminator: TSCC is as far as I know, squarely in "canon" for the film series; past and future. Sorry if that sounds confusing, but it'll make more sense once you actually see the episode and how the 'twist' plays out at the end of the pilot.

That's all kind of beside the point though. The question remains, is this new series any good? Does it live up to what the Terminator franchise is, or can be, all about? Well I have top say yes, for the most part I quite enjoyed the show. The core actors are all well cast. Lena Headey as Sarah Connor is especially great, and while I don't know that I buy Summer Glau as a Terminator any more than I did Kristina Loken, at least shes nice to look at, and as her past on screen experience shows, is good to go on the action. The action is top notch for television and I believed all of the effects, at last within the established Terminator universe. Since this is going to be an action heavy show, I'll just hope they can maintain this kind of quality level and not fall prey to the cheaper episode syndrome of say Painkiller Jane. I have faith that it probably won't though. This is FOX and I think they know how big a series like this could be for them if played out right. Let's hope they invest in it like it needs.

My only real complaints regarding the show so far are the writing and believability of both the good and bad Terminators. That is something they'll need to refine as the show progresses, but I think that its definitely possible. As for the show overall, I'd give it a solid 8/10. Maybe develop a bit more mystery, throw in a few more monkey wrenches, that sort of thing. But I understand that it's pretty hard to contain everything in a pilot. From here on out though, I'll be interested to see how much more 'substance' develops. This is a show that I feel should definitely be action heavy as on par with the Terminator movies; but ultimately pattern itself more along the lines of a tv series like the short lived, mystery fueled Surface than the freak of the week, inconsequential villains and action of Smallville.

We'll see how it fares when the show officially premieres next week. Look for it on FOX on January 13th.


Anonymous said...

My only thought on it all? You want it? Do you care? Well, it's this, in my mind, a show to have a meaning, especially a show like TSCC - you need to be able to believe that they can actually achieve their goal. If that's already been stated as an impossibility by the desire to make it coexist with the movie(s), then who really cares - if skynet can't be destroyed, what's the point?

And where the hell would another set of trilogies fit in then? In the future... one problem with the Terminator universe is the unending stream of new characters and recurrence of older characters and the back of forth of it all. I know this is both a possible blessing and a curse for shows involving time travel.

Anyway, a bit rambly, but hey... oh

and SPOILER !!!

I'll be upset if John turns out to be some crazy hacker 10 years in the future. That's just unfeasible. The computer languages and world have changed so much in the last ten years! I mean... as if.


Chappy said...

First, I just want to say yes, i totally agree about the hacking thing. I don't think thats going to happen, but it would royally piss me off if it did. I don't think so though, because if you look at John Connor at the beginning of T3 he doesn't strike me as very tech savvy. Doesn't he say that he's been unplugged, and off the grid for a number of years even?

But that leads to the other point, and I'm not sure you've got it right. Skynet can be stopped. In Terminator 2 they proved that the future can be changed. At least to some degree. Maybe its a universe with the elastic band effect and thats why they only delayed Judgment Day, but I don't think that its ever been said that anything is written in stone. The very fact that they keep sending machines back in time to kill John means that they at least think they can change things.

Essentially what I'm saying is that while T3, T:TSCC, and T4-T6 all may be canon, they can all rewrite history.... they can all be different and all still correct. I think what we're dealing with here is either a multiverse, with many possible timelines, or more likely a single universe that's timeline has been rewritten again and agin, erasing the other possibilities.

And if that's the case, then there definitely is a point to the continued fighting etc. Because whoever is the ultimate victor, whoever can go back to stop the other one from ever sending anyone back at all will win.

Oh except for the anomalies of the alternate future Terminators and people... Those guys would still remember. I think it does matter though.

The funniest thing though would be if the tv show ended with the good guys winning, because that could negate the entire Terminator 4-6 films before they even get going. Oh, unless at the beginning of T4 they went back into he tv show and made them lose at the last possible second. Now that would be very funny.

But I guess the thing to really consider is the true time. Meaning which chronological order each films time traveling took place. I don't think there's anything to say that the time travel events of Terminator 4 take place after those of 3 on the future end of things. Maybe the time travel elements of The Sarah Connor Chronicles take place after all 6 of the films finish. I think chronologically from the end perspective is the only way we'll ever know which reality occurred.

Maybe at the end of Terminator 6 they'll go back and stop Judgment Day for good. Now that would be cool.... or possibly boring.

Now lets see you talk about whose got the more rambling post? huh. exactly. me.

Anonymous said...

I will wait until tomorrow to respond.... times are infinite and so shall my response feel!