Sunday, March 09, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 1 Review

I work in TV. So I don't watch TV. It's that simple people. The only time that I sit around and watch a television show is if it's something so unique, so amazing, that it captivates my attention and holds onto me through its entire run.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is not that kind of a series, but it _is_ set in one of my most beloved childhood franchies, and for that reason alone I'm giving it a chance. And now, after one whole season, I can say that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is not an amazing show, but it's not a bad one either, and it does have potential.

The first season contains a total of 9 episodes, the last two played back-to-back as a finale. Like all shows, some episodes were good, some were not, and some straddled the middle line. Some built on the characters and situation, some had a lot of action, and others really need more time having their scripts refined.

If you're a fan of the franchise, and even if you're not, odds are you know the gist of the story. A supercomputer called Skynet becomes self aware and begins a nuclear war to wipe out humanity. John Connor (Thomas Dekker) becomes humanity's champion and the leader of the Resistance in the post-apocalyptic future, ultimately saving our race. Because of the threat John represents, Skynet sends multiple Terminator cyborgs back in time to kill him, and John himself sends various protectors, both human and reprogrammed Terminators, to protect him.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes place after Terminator 2: Judgement Day and completely renders Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines null and void. So if you don't like having time lines messed up, well, you probably stopped paying attention to the franchise after the second film anyway.

The series focuses on John and Sarah (Lena Headey) traveling into the future, to 2007, with the assistance of Cameron (Summer Glau), a Terminator sent back by John to protect his young self in an effort to prevent Skynet from being created; thereby preventing Judgement Day.

The concept itself is alright, though we find that both Skynet and the Resistance has sent numerous operatives back through time to complete one mission or another, which I honestly find really cheesy. I mean, in the films, time travel was costly process, with the Resistance having to fight their way into Skynet's facility _and_ take control of it just to send one person back, after which the facility is destroyed. In the series, however, everyone and their grandmother can jump around the time line. Go Metro Pass!

Kyle Reese's brother, Derek (Brian Austin Green), also gets involved with the Connors, and I admittedly found his character to be rather too bitter and over the top. The Connors aren't just up against Terminator's, however, as they're also running from the law for blowing up Cyberdyne Systems in the second film. An FBI agent, James Ellison (Richard T. Jones), is also after them, and honestly he's one of the more interesting, and human, characters of the mix. Well acted.

The series does have some pacing problems, trying to mix its action scenes with loose character development, development that's not always properly fleshed out. I honestly think they should sit down and watch Firefly to see how proper characters should be developed, and how important that level of development is, but hey, that's just me.

Each episode also tries to look at some moral aspect of humanity, to try and show what the Connor's are trying to preserve. While these examples don't always come across perfectly clear, at least to me, they usually come in some kind of an experience or lesson to Cameron as she learns more about humanity, and I must say the concept of the Terminator taking ballet amuses me.

So again, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has potential. It's certainly not the best show I've ever seen, but there's enough there that I actually sat down and watched an entire season.

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