Sunday, January 27, 2008

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles—Back to the Future of the Past

Since FanBoyWonder went out of our way to spotlight in advance the new action-drama on the Fox network Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it seems we are honor bound to follow up with our impressions—even if we don’t plan to do weekly reviews of the show.

Since its debut on earlier this month, the Terminator Chronicles has aired three episodes, including a back-to-back Sunday/Monday premier of Episodes One and Two.

To recap, here is The Upshot From The Fox Network: At the end of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) vanquished the Terminator sent from the future to kill her teenage son, John (Thomas Dekker). Sarah and John now find themselves alone in a very dangerous, complicated world. Fugitives from the law, they are confronted with the reality that still more enemies from the future, and the present, could attack at any moment.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles reveals what happens when Sarah stops running and goes on the offensive against an ever-evolving technological enemy bent on destroying her life, and perhaps the world.

Her son, 15-year-old John knows that he may be the future savior of mankind, but is not yet ready to take on the mantle of leadership that he's told is his destiny. John finds himself inextricably drawn to Cameron (Summer Glau), an enigmatic and otherworldly student at his high school, who soon proves to be much more than his confidante - she assumes the role of Sarah and John's fearless protector. On their trail are not only threats from the future, but an intelligent and tough FBI agent, James Ellison (Richard T.Jones), who soon becomes a powerful ally.

We were at a disadvantage in that we missed the premier/pilot episode and had to catch up later viewing it on line. But even after seeing all three aired episodes in sequence, we really can’t say we are exactly blown away by Chronicles.

It’s not that it’s bad but it’s all very familiar to what we’ve seen in the movies but on the smaller scale of weekly episodic television. Lena Headley is competent in performing her role but she seems to do little more than just be present as Sarah Connor.

There is no mistaking that Headley has a tall order in filling the combat boots of the original Sarah—Linda Hamilton. A sentimental favorite of FanBoyWonder, we loved seeing Hamilton portray Sarah as the sweet and soft college co-ed just trying to stay survive the unimaginable in the first Terminator.

Then in T2, we saw Hamilton as a hardened warrior and protector who in many ways was the first victim of the war against humanity she is trying to prevent.

Hamilton’s Sarah was a force of nature. Headley’s Sarah is a presence. Big difference.

John Connor played by Thomas Dekker is neither Wesley Crusher nails on the chalk board annoying but neither is much of a force of personality. His disadvantage is that 15 years old is a tough age—for a character or for real. Not yet a man but more than a boy.

Cameron the Termobabe shows the most promise as she channels her inner Data from Star Trek The Next Generation by mimicking human beings to understand them and perhaps seek to become more human than the humans.

The three main characters are NOT bad but they are not yet good enough to make this show a character driven drama because stronger characters would go a long way toward helping the viewer ignore the paper-thing plotting and failure to grow beyond James Cameron’s original premise from the first Terminator.

The Connors must stay alive to stop SkyNet, the evil robot/computer overlords of the future intent on destroying all of humanity in a global thermonuclear holocaust. As a child of the Cold War, FanBoyWonder remembers the “other side” launching a first strike—one flash and it’s all over.

But that’s all so very 1980s. Today’s Terminator in 2007 (even if the characters did engage in naked time travel from 1999 in the pilot episode) feels like they are fighting yesterday’s enemy.

Ok here is the inevitable Battlestar Galactica comparison. The new BSG gave the scary, mysterious, monolithic Cylons an individual, human face—first in Number Six (Tricia Helfer) and later in other human-Cylon models such as Sharon (Grace Park) and others. The Terminator Chronicles needs it’s own Number Six.

The Terminator robot the Connors are running from isn’t the enemy, it’s the weapon. Until the writers can create an antagonist with a face and an individual persona to SkyNet, their fear and vision of “Judgment Day” will seem as far away to us now as the prospect of us one day living in a nursing home (but not nearly as scary).

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles airs Mondays on Fox at 9 p.m. (EST.). This Monday repeats the Pilot episode for newcomers with a new episode to air the following week. It’s beats reality television.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities