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?