TV Show News TV Show Review

TV Shows that Deserved Better: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

terminator-the-sarah-connor-chronicles-logoAlong came a show on January 13, 2008 about a machine built to extinguish human life yet reprogrammed to safeguard a single life, a life destined to save humanity. Before the machine was “skinned” and acquired a stolen identity, it had to interrogate a girl, a Resistance soldier from Palmdale, California named Alison Young. After her betrayal of The Resistance and death, her only remnant was her executioner that now wore her face, spoke in her voice and possessed an exact replica of her body. Dubbed Cameron Philips (Summer Glau), she quickly became the most intriguing character of the deceased Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television show. Sarah Connor (Lean Headey) was softened, made less unhinged, less physically fit than her previous Terminator 2: Judgment Day incarnation but was still as overprotective and determined to safeguard her son, John Connor (Thomas Dekker)’s life. That savior (humanities’ savior) was now imbued with an IT professionals’ level of technological savvy when it came to computers. Season One of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was all about The Connors vs. Cromartie (Owain Yeoman, Garret Dillahunt), a Terminator model T-888, while avoiding the pesky and persistent Federal Bureau of Investigation, led by Special Agent Ellison (Richard T. Jones). Seeing Cameron, a Terminator whose model number is never revealed, in high school during Season One was hilarious. I wish John’s friend had asked her to prom (or a dance) like he said he wanted to. Imagine him slow dancing with Cameron and eventually trying to “put the moves” on her. What would her response have been? I’m guessing something comical. With the introduction of Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) during that season came a whole new component to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: visions of the future, The Resistance and more complexity to the show.

Season One ended with an off-screen, BS Cromartie / FBI fight, a screenwriter cop-out, and Cameron being blown up, causing the damage to her chip in Season Two and her subsequent evolution. Cameron turning killer in Season Two was one of the best moments coupled with her begging John, that she knew he loved her and that she loved him. This moment served to heighten his sexual attraction (and tension) to Cameron and made their bond that much more complicated. Goram, this really makes me lament no Season Three more than anything. Season Two of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles housed some of the best character development for the cast along with the addition of the T-1001 disguised as Catherine Weaver (Shirley Manson), Jesse Flores (Stephanie Jacobsen), Derek’s old Resistance flame from the future, Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin) coupled with her mission and true purpose, Cameron’s aforementioned damaged chip, Sarah killing someone for the first time, John losing his virginity, Cameron’s damaged forearm and subsequent twitch there after, and her human agitation with Ellison in the final episode, which John knew was impossible or so Cameron tried to remind him.

Then there was the Season Two finale, which turned out to be the series finale, filled with moments and cliffhangers that begged exploration in a following season. “You lying bitch.” Unfortunately, Fox did not see the inner light that shined out from this show. Their eyes, long-term network programming logistics, time and time again, have proven to be short-sighted.

terminator-sarah-connor-season-1-cast

Many have written off Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as not being as good as the feature films Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. How could it ever have been that well constructed? It was restricted of content by virtue of being on network television during primetime. Director James Cameron had no involvement with the show once-so-ever. He did not write the scripts, oversee the production yet they expected it to be as good as the films he sheparded. They were expecting too much and got exactly what they expecting, something not as good as Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a clear example of self-fulfilling prophecy, proclamation, whatever one wishes to call it.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was in no way perfect and sometimes tripped over its own good intentions and established mythos of the James Cameron films. Cromatie’s head, unskinned, every inch metallic, came through the team portal with Cameron and the Connors to the future. How was that possible? It was established in Terminator that nothing dead could ever be transported. Hmmm. Second, I always found it strange that John never mentioned the first Terminator sent to protect him, the T-850 model 101. That particular Terminator was one of the only father figures in his life, a creation that died for him, and he never even referred to it once while talking to Cameron (something like: “You’re not the only Terminator that’s protected me. There was another before you.” Then Cameron could have retorted: “I know. You’ve talked about him in the future.”) or about the past. Third, people that should have been killed, like Agent Ellison at the end of Season One, were left alive for seasons that defied most logic arguments to the latter.

What Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles did accomplish was to effectively show aspects of The Resistance (and their logistics, something never seen before), the world they inhabit, and the evolution of The Terminator itself. Audiences were also shown what being on the run had done to the Connors and what a burden pre-destination could be. Biological warfare, the use of nuclear submarines, the jargon coined by the series: T-888 aka Triple 8s aka Trip 8s, Metal, Scrubbing, Monkey Wagon and J-Day were all terms brought from the future back to the present, back to us, Terminator fans.

John Connor was shown as having become the sole reason for Sarah existence. She could not even remember in the series what she wanted to be beyond a waitress, which I found to be (screenwriter) BS. No one forgets their dreams, even unrealistic ones, unless they are brain damaged, dead, or never had them to begin with. Her dependency on John was shown when she destroyed Cromartie’s chip, smashing repeatedly then desperately hugging and clinging to John afterward. The prison house in the future, whose purpose was never explained (I’m guessing Cameron was in that house. That’s how Derek recognized her when he got back to base), and the aircraft carrier where Alison from Palmdale met her end and Cameron began her imitation of her were all highlights of the series.

summer-glau-terminator-the sarah-connor chronicles-posterJohn struggled more and more against a fate there was no escaping from throughout the series. He began disobeying his mother, going out, trying to make other human connections, something his mother and his new protector, Cameron, were against. “We’re not safe. No one is ever safe.” Gloom hung over the family, a closed system that infected almost everyone they came in contact with. John struggled against it, did not want to believe it but it kept happening. The Terminators hunting them never stopped; would never stop.

Lets not forget John Henry (Garret Dillahunt). Even if the overall structure of a Season Two Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode was weak, the John Henry segments always made them more interesting. This became increasing so as John Henry gained more abilities and became more intuitive while retaining innocent, child-like qualities that defined the young intelligence as infantile. These two aspects of John Henry worked side-by-side, coterminous, for the betterment of the show.

The ending of the Season Two made a questionable aspect of the series make sense. I always wondered why Weaver, metal, would have Ellison teach John Henry, Deus Ex Machina, morals and help it to develop a conscience towards humanity. In the final twelve minutes of the final episode, it was made clear why. The story line to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles took a dramatic turn when Cameron’s chip was cut out of her head and was taken into the future by John Henry. All of these moments and questions, amongst others, will go unfulfilled and unanswered.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was a show ended prematurely by Fox. If this was done as an either/or in respect to renewing Fox’s Dollhouse, I believe Fox executives bet on the wrong horse. Since the main characters’ minds on Dollhouse are continuous erased, Joss Whedon, Dollhouse’s creator, is not building characters to sympathize or connect with. This was not the case with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles nor was its action limited to what only humans could do. On Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you had human vs. human, human vs. Terminator, and Terminator vs. Terminator fight sequences. On Dollhouse, the confrontations are limited to only human vs. human. Fox lets Prison Break run itself into the ground and yet…well, it’s done now so what is the point. Good ‘ol Fox. They have done it again.terminator-the-sarah-connor-chronicles-season-3-banner

Other posts in the TV Shows that Deserved Better series: Space: Above and Beyond, Firefly, and My So-Called Life.

Buy Season One of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on DVD and Blu-ray

Buy Season Two of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on DVD and Blu-ray

Subscribe to us by Email or Full RSS Feed to be informed when we post the next installment in this series.

 

About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

  • This was a show that took some time to find its feet, but by the 2nd season cliffhanger, it had not only found its feet but was going at a full gallop. This was a grand foobar on the part of Fox to let this show go.
    .-= Dwacon´s last blog ..If You Lived in Japan, You’d See Things Like This… =-.

  • This was a show that took some time to find its feet, but by the 2nd season cliffhanger, it had not only found its feet but was going at a full gallop. This was a grand foobar on the part of Fox to let this show go.
    .-= Dwacon´s last blog ..If You Lived in Japan, You’d See Things Like This… =-.

  • prematurely is being nice. I hated that Fox ended this one. Reminded me why I hate to watch new series until the first few seasons are done. I watched Blade religiously and they got axed. Now this… IM DONE. I’ll wait for DVD box releases from now on.
    .-= trench´s last blog ..Pixar’s UP 3-D (Theaters) =-.

  • prematurely is being nice. I hated that Fox ended this one. Reminded me why I hate to watch new series until the first few seasons are done. I watched Blade religiously and they got axed. Now this… IM DONE. I’ll wait for DVD box releases from now on.
    .-= trench´s last blog ..Pixar’s UP 3-D (Theaters) =-.

  • 790

    I sure miss this show,,,

  • 790

    I sure miss this show,,,

  • I agree with My So Called Life and would like to add Arrested Development, Sports Night and Pushing Daisies.
    .-= vange´s last blog ..Is Eva Longoria Parker Relevant? =-.

  • I agree with My So Called Life and would like to add Arrested Development, Sports Night and Pushing Daisies.
    .-= vange´s last blog ..Is Eva Longoria Parker Relevant? =-.

  • NavMan

    this will sit proudly next to my terminator1 and 2 movies.
    TSCC brought an amazing storyline ( that can’t be left in the condition it’s in currently) that brought displayed the brilliance of the cast, writers, directors, composers and all crew involved… I never cared or respected a tv show like this ever before and has raised my exPectations of what tv should offer… I’ll never enjoy anything on tv again like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

  • NavMan

    this will sit proudly next to my terminator1 and 2 movies.
    TSCC brought an amazing storyline ( that can’t be left in the condition it’s in currently) that brought displayed the brilliance of the cast, writers, directors, composers and all crew involved… I never cared or respected a tv show like this ever before and has raised my exPectations of what tv should offer… I’ll never enjoy anything on tv again like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

  • The storyline was why I kept tuning it, alongside the action, the sexual tension between Cameron and Connor, Headey’s strong performance, etc. You should check out Farscape, Firefly and a few others. I think you might like them as well.

  • The storyline was why I kept tuning it, alongside the action, the sexual tension between Cameron and Connor, Headey’s strong performance, etc. You should check out Farscape, Firefly and a few others. I think you might like them as well.

  • Lew1

    ok So I hate Fox for doing what they did to ttscc I need to know what would have happend. But i am still watching dollhouse and i have to say that I quite like it but then when I think about that ending cliffhanger in TTSCC, dollhouse just cannot compare. Is it likely that anyone would pick up TTSCC or has that ship sailed?

  • I really wish someone would pick up TSCC but I doubt it. Production costs per episode are probably high.

  • TechMaster

    In my book, nothing else on TV compared to T:TSCC. I haven't been this disappointed since Star Trek “Enterprise” got cancelled. Way to go FOX. There is nothing that I'll be watching on your network this season. Reality shows are OK for 1 maybe 2 seasons, but I bet no one will be buying Reality shows on DVD.

  • Enterprise had gotten really bad by the time it was cancelled so that was no surprise. T:SCC had gotten better. I will still be watching House on Fox but as for “the show that shall not be named”, we'll see. As for reality shows, I do not watch them now anyway.

  • hehe yeah as soon as I finished watching the season 2 finale I jumped into firefly. Great show, too bad it ended before its time…FOX…
    Isnt Farscape another….? 😛 but will do.

    Oh (see the article @virginity) Josh Friedman said that John didn't do the nastie with Ms pastie aka riley

    woo! lol

    its been two months but theres been some rumours Im willing to optimistically indulge in… *sik*dvd movie
    -NavMan

  • So John and Riley just made out that night? Ok. It was never clear either way. I just assumed because he was out all night.

    I heard about the DVD movie. I wish they would make a DVD season 3 for Terminator. They tried a wrap up film for Firefly with Serenity and it did not turn out too well. You can't condense an entire season into a two hour film. No characters are explored, etc.

  • CJ

    For people wanting a sort of season 3 fix, you can read teleplays that pick up where season 2 left off. “Terminator: The Connor Wars” http://cjcs.com/tib/tcw

  • CJ

    For people wanting a sort of season 3 fix, you can read teleplays that pick up where season 2 left off. “Terminator: The Connor Wars” http://cjcs.com/tib/tcw

  • Neil

    The guy's name is Ellison, not Elias

  • Thx for the heads up.

  • Thx for the heads up.

  • Thx for the heads up.

  • Confidential

    i want more seasons!

  • Ojeda_1955

    I finally watched the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles at work with my boss and I got sooo hooked to this thing that I just had to get netflix. I watched it to the very end and I got very dissappointed at the end.
    I wish they continue with season 3 that’s all i wish.

  • Everybody does. It’s not going to happen.

  • So do I. That was one of the best cliffhangers I have seen plus you were invested in the characters. They were not empty shells like you usually get on TV shows.

  • FOX will never know what good television is. If it doesn’t do numbers like American Idol, they consider it a failure.

  • At least they have kept Fringe on the air.

Mega Menu

Send this to friend