Review: ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’
By Allan Lamberti
Easily one of the highest anticipated returns for this fall season, Terminator has been a franchise that has kept fans interested since the mid 80’s (despite the backlash against the third film). When the television series was announced, fan curiosity piqued immediately, and we all became hooked to the all-too-short first season. From the clever time-traveling aspect of the pilot (that does in fact work well within the continuity of the films), straight through to the awkward season finale (clearly shortened due to the writer’s strike), they sold the fans on another season to watch the continuing saga of the Connor family.
The first episode of this season, entitled “Samson and Delilah,” gets off to an interesting start. Picking up immediately where the first season ended, a group of men attack Sarah (Lena Headey), John (Thomas Dekker), and terminator Cameron (Summer Glau). The men are killed, but as a result of the battle, Cameron’s chip is damaged and her mission has been altered from protecting John to terminating him. Ms. Glau, doing her best Schwarzenegger impression from the first film, is hunting them through the streets while they are injured and on the run. We also see the return of Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) who is hiding in Sarah’s former lover’s ambulance hoping to get the Connor’s to safety before Cameron finds them. FBI Agent Ellison (Richard T. Jones) returns, as does the other terminator Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt, who has been promoted to series regular). We also meet Shirley Manson of the band Garbage, seemingly playing an evil corporate version of herself.
The good: the action and effects budget has certainly been amped up for this season, a very good sign that Fox actually has some faith in the show continuing on for a longer run. The actors have also grown into their roles a lot more. Ms. Headey is still very capable in her interpretation as Sarah, while Mr. Dekker is gradually becoming a better future-leader John Connor. Ms. Glau’s Cameron actually behaved far more like a “classic” terminator should, slow-moving and menacing – my guess is that the show runners made the decision to tone down the more comical aspects of her from last season and make her more like the film terminators we’ve come to enjoy. While Cameron’s “panic” and begging while pinned between the two trucks was becoming slightly ridiculous and stupid, thankfully the writers had John do the right thing in not listening to her.
The bad: arguably, the best favorite part of season one was the experience of actually enjoying a role inhabited by Brian Austin Green. His Derek Reese, older brother to John’s father Kyle, kicked a lot of butt in the first season, and was very similar in portrayal to Michael Biehn in the first film. However, in the season premiere, they make him kind of a pansy. The weakest link of the show is FBI Agent Ellison – this is no fault of Mr. Jones as an actor, the writers just don’t have enough for him to do. However, there was just a bit of foreshadowing for his character to keep me interested in him, but they really need to find something for him to do fast.
Albeit, not the best episode of this show in its short lifespan, but it certainly maintained pace for the entire hour. With a final scene surprise that will put this episode in very good standing with Terminator fans, and a preview for the season to come, they’ll keep me, along with any other fan of the franchise, watching. Rating: 8/10