The Sarah Connor Chronicles - first thoughts

Right, so last night was the premiere episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on South African television (for all of you who don't just TV series off the Internet).

I can't really present any kind of thorough review based on just 45 minutes of television, especially since a TV series is a project that evolves over time. However, I can say that I've liked what I've seen so far. Liked, not loved.

Television's biggest advantage over film is that it allows for the exploration of character relationships in a lot more depth. It's one of the major strengths of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The bond between Sarah Connor (300's Lena Headey) and her "saviour" son John (Heroes' Thomas Dekker) is especially well realised and convincing.

Starting 2 years after the events of Terminator 2 (correcting the timeline), John is no longer an obnoxious brat, and Sarah, though still resourceful and competent with weapons, is hardly the muscled badass Linda Hamilton portayed her as. Instead, mother and son are both vulnerable, distrustful loners who have only each other to rely on as they live their lives permanently on the run... from the police and the occasional Terminator.

Teamed up this time with the Connors as their Terminator protector is Cameron (Summer Glau), who assumes the form of a sexy teenage girl. A highly advanced cyborg model, Cameron is the most emotive and "human" of the Terminators in the series so far, capable even of eating. This said, when fighting other more "traditional" Terminators she becomes similarly robotic and stiff lipped.

Speaking of fights, The Sarah Connor Chronicles is technically top notch for a TV series. The make-up, special effects and action sequences are of a very high, almost cinematic quality.

My only concern is the new time travel dynamic that has already been established. From what has been said so far, apparently plenty of Terminators and members of the human resistance have been sent back in time (as far back at the 1960s) to build Terminator-destroying weapons and time machines for forward movement. Time travel is always a problematic issue as you try to get your mind around it, but it complicates matters here quite a bit. Like why couldn't John and Sarah be fast forwarded out of danger before? And why didn't Kyle Reese have access to weapons stashes? That kind of thing really annoys me, and tempers my enjoyment of things.

Anyway, as far as The Sarah Connor Chronicles goes, so far, so good.


Meanwhile, I'm sure some of you are aware that pre-production is underway on the 4th Terminator movie, entitled Terminator: Salvation or Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins. This movie will follow on from Terminator 3 and chronicle in detail events only alluded to, or briefly depicted, in the other films - namely the beginning of the post-apocalyptic war between humans and machines, and John Connor's emergence as humanity's saviour.

The good: Christian "Batman" Bale is playing John Connor.

The bad: the director is McG, the man responsible for Charlie's Angels and assorted Korn and Offspring music videos.

The further bad: Terminator 4 will be PG-13 to lure more kiddies into the cinema. Noooooooooo!

Oh well, time will tell how this one turns out. Personally I think it's a pretty unnecessary project, removing the major differentiating strength from the Terminator series - its setting in contemporary reality - and transforming it into a zillion other Action Sci-Fi flicks.

Terminator: Salvation is supposedly set for release in May next year.


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