December 10th, 2008


Giving Sarah Connor Her Due

I haven't posted much about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in quite a while. I guess that's because it's sometimes easier to complain about something than it is to praise a job well done. Let me rectify that now. The show is absolutely solid, kicks serious ass, and fully deserves the Terminator name. I'm not prone to recommending any TV show, let alone a non-Whedon show, but this has grown into something really special.

To recap: The first episode got the show off to a less-than-perfect but still quite good start, after which the show had me pulling my hair out and gnashing my teeth for the first half of season one. The show steadily improved however, and hit the break even point around episode 6 ("Dungeons and Dragons"). By the season finale it was edge-of-your-seat, and even to my ultra picky fanboi eye all was forgiven for the weak start. I pre-ordered the season one box set without reservation, and if you don't have a copy I highly recommend it, even if you don't particularly consider yourself to be a fan of the show. At the very least, it's worth putting at the top of your Netflix queue.

Season two lost a bit of momentum at the beginning, and at one point it was started to look (to picky fanboi me) like they were going to fall into the trap of using a gimmick-of-the-week as a replacement for a coherent story. (I won't go into detail in order to avoid giving spoilers to anyone who isn't watching season two.) However, what appeared at first glance to be cheesy gimmicks have actually turned out to be the seeds of some surprisingly deep and intelligent plot lines and characters.

I still maintain that I am the harshest Terminator critic on the planet, yet I don't remember when the last time was that I rolled my eyes. (That's high praise.) In fact, I don't remember when the last time was that I wasn't dazzled by an episode. They've really hit their stride, and the level of quality has been both consistent and excellent.

They're also doing very creative things with the world while still remaining true to canon. Yes, there are still terminators regularly trying to kill John and Sarah, but with the exception of the Cromartie arc that's really just a backdrop to the actual stories. Hell, there are main characters whom the Connors haven't met or even heard of, and major story arcs that don't involve them at all, but which are nevertheless pivotal to the saga. John didn't appear in the most recent episode at all, and there have been at least a couple of episodes where Sarah's role was been minor, but they've managed to broaden the scope (and the cast) of the show without diluting its "Terminator-ness" (Terminatorosity? Terminatitude? Terminatorishness?) one bit. The weekly TV series format allows them to develop plots slowly and explore aspects and implications of the universe that movies simply can't afford the time to do, and they take full advantage of it.

The down side is that with so many story lines going it's difficult to pick up in the middle, so here's my suggestion. If you're already watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles then you already know everything I've said here. If you haven't been keeping up with the Connors then by all means pick up season one or Netflix it (or at the very least, watch the season one recap here). Then you can watch all of the season two episodes online for free here!! Or if you're so inclined, the iTunes store carries both season one and season two (that's how I watch it).

[As an aside, last week's episode, "Self Made Man" was like a Terminator version of the Buffy episode "The Zeppo". The whole episode centered around what Cameron does at night while her human comrades are sleeping, and just about the only way the episode could have been better would be if at one point she'd ended up having sex with Faith. ;-) ]
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