So, you’re a cold-blooded killing machine from the future.. Does that mean you can’t be hot? Take for instance Summer Glau, the teenage ass-kicking cyborg sent back to protect the great John Connor. You know the story, in the future an artificial intelligence called Skynet becomes self aware and realizes mankind is a threat to its existence… So it nukes us. Afterward the machines, most called Terminators, rule the world. Skynet controls everything, and humans are being hunted to extinction. From the ashes, a hero, John Connor, rises to lead the resistance on a successful campaign to destroy the machines. In its desperation, Skynet sends a terminator back in time to 1984 to assassinate Sarah Connor before she can have the future leader of the resistance. In the future, John Connor sends his best-friend and soldier (Kyle Reese) back in time to protect his mother… Kyle ends up sleeping with her before getting killed, and actually BEING John’s father.
I’ve been a Terminator fan from, oh, let’s see mom was a huge Sarah Connor fan- so i guess 1984. I remember seeing Terminator 2: Judgement Day (the movie that the entire decade of the 80’s built up to) in the theater when I was a wee lad of 13. It was one of the last R-Rated movies I got into without parental units actually coming with me to the theater… and it changed my life. All that metal and killer-cyborgs-from-the-future turned the promising young man into a Judas Priest, Guns N Roses, and Metallica freak (for a year at least… until Seattle happened).
Is James Cameron responsible for my adolescent rebellion and macabre obsession with the dark side? I’m not saying he’s the reason… I’m just saying everything was fine until I saw his movie- played backward it says “In the name of Lucifer, spill the blood of the innocent” you know… (sorry, Judas Priest joke).
Since that quintessential movie there have been a campy sequel (T3: Rise of the Machines, just had the wrong cast- simple as that– but a brilliant twist ending) and an action-packed “super-sequel” (Terminator: Salvation, a movie that begins another Terminator trilogy, this time surrounding John Connor in the future and the fight against the machines & Skynet).
Somewhere in between trilogies, came the FOX television show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (or SCC). I’d caught the first episode when it aired a few years ago, but laughed it off (like most things on FOX) and forgot about it. Leave it to Netflix… since they started their instant streaming service, I’m never without some sort of fictional escape. So in between seasons of 24 and Trailer Park Boys I decided to give Sarah Connor Chronicles a shot.
It’s classic FOX TV by the way. If you’re a fan of any FOX show, you know what I mean. Heavy on melodrama, not a lot of character development, political undertones… and that distinctive FOX Filter that makes everything a little darker and grainier… basically right up Terminator’s alley. Everything that makes the Terminator series GREAT (the bad-ass cyborgs, the time-travel, the mythology) is given a TV treatment, and while it’s not the best show I’ve ever watched- It definitely leaves something to be desired when it comes to actual production. The dialogue is atrocious at best sometimes, other times the performances are so over the top that cheese actually spills out of the HDMI slot on the front of my LG… but the rest of the time it’s not bad, seriously!
The plot follows Sarah Connor, John Connor, Derek Reese (brother to Kyle, John’s father-from-the-future), and the brilliant Summer Glau as ‘Cameron’- a female Terminator known as an Infiltrator– sent back to protect John. The timeline starts post-Terminator 2 with John and Sarah on the run, evading the FBI and any cyborgs that might pop up (even though the time-travel-device was supposedly destroyed in the first movie there is a HELL of a lot of time-traveling going on in this series). They are quickly joined by Cameron, the Infiltrator, and soon become wrapped up in continued efforts to stop “Judgement Day,” the day Skynet becomes self-aware and destroys most of the human population with nukes. They time-travel from 1999 to 2007 in the first episode, that way the series can take place when it was filmed, and exists on a separate timeline than that of T3: Rise of the Machines.
The show brings a depth that most cookie-cutter action shows don’t have, mostly in part to the amazing performances by Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, and Summer Glau as the three on the run. It boils down the essence of the Terminator universe, stripping away the big action-sequences and explosions (of which there are still PLENTY), and revealing more of the humanity that lies there.
One thing I’ve always loved about the Terminator series is the parallels it draws between the machines and us humans, how when our civilization is destroyed and our humanity is strained, how much different are we from these machines? James Cameron did an excellent job in T2 to make us question where the line is between human and machine, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles expands on that. We get to see what these characters are pushed to do, how they love, fight, struggle, and ultimately (because we know the future) die…
If you’re a fan of the Terminator trilogy and haven’t checked out The Chronicles yet, do it! FOX TV made only 31 episodes (2 seasons), but this highly rated show is definitely worth kicking back with.