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Monday, January 21, 2008

Sarah Conner Chronicles

I was planning on doing a review of the first two episodes of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, but now it’s a week later, and a new episode is on, so instead here’s my quick take on it. And hopefully, I’ll get a review of tonight’s episode up in a timely fashion.

Short version? It’s okay; not great, not terrible. I’m intrigued enough by what we’ve seen so far to keep watching. I’m a fan of the Terminator films, inasamuch as I’ve seen and enjoyed all three films-numerous times, in the case of the first two. (And yes, I even liked the third one). But I’ve never embraced the larger “expanded universe” of the franchise through books and comics, the way I have other properties. Still, the mythology of the Terminator stories is built on some of my favorite sci-fi tropes: time traveling in order to change the future, apocalypses that must be avoided, ordinary people with significant destinies and killer robots. Add to the mix the fact that right now, there ain’t a whole lot else on TV and I’m in a pretty good place to enjoy this show.


Some other points:

  • Summer Glau makes a good Terminator, and there is clearly something different about her (compared to the other cyborgs, even the good ones). Hopefully that’s part of the story, and not just the way she’s playing the part. She said she’s from 2027, which is two years earlier than the time Kyle Reese and Ahnuld came from in the first movie. Just worth noting, in case Cameron turns out to be some kind of advanced model. Then again, maybe the events of T2 (which already pushed back Judgment Day) also screwed around with the timeline in other ways and its best not to think about.
  • Lena Headey doesn’t bring the same intensity to Sarah Conner that Linda Hamilton did, but I doubt that intensity would work for a weekly TV show.
  • At some point, I hope we see John do something that foreshadows his role as savior of mankind. I get that he’s a troubled teenager, and his struggle with his destiny is a metaphor for what all teens deal with and blah blah, but at some point, we need to see that he’s on his way to becoming a great leader. At least Edward Furlong in T2 had some computer skills (and I know the show has Sarah putting the kibosh on John using those) and one of the things I liked about T3 was how even though John wasn’t yet a great leader, he was cunning and we could see how becoming one was just around the corner. Basically, what I’m saying is I want to see a John Connor on this show that falls somewhere between “Mankind’s Savior” and “Mom, I can’t find the turkey.”
  • I like the notion of other resistance fighters being in the past, and the whole idea that the war of the future is being fought in the past; after all, if both sides possess time travel capabilities, it makes sense to use it to expand the conflict, and not just to kill John.
  • I’m not sure why they had to time jump into 2007 (other than Dr. Bitz’s theory that the producers were too afraid of having to keep everything “dated” to 1999) but I guess I have no issue with it in principal. I certainly like the idea that they jumped over Sarah’s death. Although technically, the movies had established that time travel was one way (you couldn’t jump ahead). Maybe they just meant it was one way once you were in the past, because there was no time machine to send you back, unless the resistance sends an engineer even further into the past to make one with present day parts. (Hell, Doc Brown did it in the Old West). Or maybe the willingly goofed in order to get the characters to 2007. Still, one way or the other, I hope its addressed at some point.
  • Also, metal can’t time travel. So how did the 1999 Terminator’s head travel along with them (it looked to me like the blast that knocked his head off also blasted off his skin covering; maybe I’m wrong)?
  • I had heard before the pilot aired that the events of this show force the events of T3 to exist in an “alternate timeline.” Having watched it, I’m not sure exactly why they had to do that (obviously, because they jumped ahead to 2007. But again, I’m still not sure they “needed” to have them jump ahead). Knowing it going in made it easier to swallow though, as did knowing that the producers of this show also produced T3, so at least they’re not wiping out someone else’s work.
  • My other concern for this show (if it lasts past the initial 9 episode season) is how the projected T4 will affect it. Again, it’s the same producers, so hopefully some continuity will maintained, but knowing that T4 will focus on an adult John in the future actually leading the fight against the machines (and might I add, finally!) how much will that preempt any development of his character and the events of the future timeline on this show? Will it just end up spinning its wheels, because the movie will be handling all the big important stuff?

5 comments:

  1. yeah, i pretty much feel the same way. I wish Sarah was a little more hard ass, and john not as "dumb kid"ish.
    As for teen terminator, the only issue i have is that she seemed to be able to act and pretend she was a normal kid for 75 days while waiting to make contact with John and Sarah, but then, after that, she seemed to lose all her human-acting skills.
    What's up with that?
    Also, metal can time travel, hence how Ahnuld ended up in the past in 1, 2 and 3 - they just can't bring anything with them.

    -S

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  2. If memory serves, Ahnuld (and other Terminators) can travel into the past because they have skin covering their metal bodies.

    Which means the bad Terminator's head could have gone through time, except when we see it come flying at the screen and into the time bubble, it appears skinless. And arrives that way in the future.

    It also means that if Kyle had been man enough, he could have, ahem, "inserted" some future tech before coming back to protect Sarah and things probably would have been a lot easier for him.

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  3. This is off the top of my head so I'll probably screw it up, but I believe it goes like this.
    Only organic matter can travel through time. Ahnuld could time travel even though he was made of metal because his metal was covered by organic skin-like material.
    T-2000 could time travel because liquid metal is apparently 'organic metal' or some BS like that.
    But they can't bring weapons back because they're not organic. Why they don't temporarily cover futuristic laser guns with organic skin like the terminators...I have no idea.
    There is also the possibility that terminator head didn't travel through time but just stayed in the same place over the years and was only recently discovered because of the road construction.
    Why a nice sized town was marked for destruction and demolished to make way for a highway within 8 years? That's anybody's guess.
    But the zoning documents were contained in city hall open for public viewing...in a locked room guarded by lions.
    But I suppose all that won't matter since the Vogons will destroy the Earth within the day.

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  4. Does that mean, if i were to timetravel, my fillings wouldn't come with? Ouch.
    My question is, no one noticed the terminator body left behind in the bank?
    I mean, obviously not, because it was just sitting in a junkyard or something.
    In T2 they managed to make skynet off of ahnulds hand, but apparently TV people just throw futuristic robots away.
    Stupid societal throw-away mentality.

    -s

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  5. I think your fillings would be safe as long you kept your mouth shut. But the Council of Evil Dentists From the Future try to keep that information confidential.
    I like to think that in T2 Sarah, John, and Ahnuld destroyed skynet.
    After that, the terminator's body in the bank was the technology that was then used to build a new Skynet.
    Of course by that logic, how could ever stop Skynet from being created? Terminators could just keep coming from the future to provide the technology for its own existence.
    Then my head just hurts.
    And what if John Connor was not humanities savior? What if it's some other dude who just took the name of John Connor to keep the Time Traveling Terminators on a wild goose chase trying to kill someone who really isn't important in the human resistance? Now that would be a twist!

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