Tuesday, January 15, 2008

'Terminator' activated

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2008 at 5:10 PM

click to enlarge sarah.jpg

Fox’s new TV series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (airing 9 p.m. Mondays) may be one of the unlikely saviors of scripted television. For its Sunday debut, “Terminator’s” pilot episode was the highest-rated new show of the 2007-2008 season, beating even the popular relaunch of “American Gladiators” earlier in January. Reportedly it’s also the highest-rated debut of any scripted show in the past three years. As the writer’s strike drags on, “Terminator’s” early success suggests that TV audiences have an appetite for more than reality shows.

It doesn’t hurt that “Terminator” derives from the popular film series, and the show shows a lot of respect for James Cameron’s two Terminator movies. The first shot of the pilot echoes the last shot of T2: Judgment Day and takes up where the film left off, with Sarah Connor (now played by Lena Headey, pictured) still a fugitive and protector of her son, John (Thomas Dekker), who is destined to lead mankind against an apocalyptic rebellion of computers and murderous androids. (But hey, no pressure.)

The pilot frequently paid homage to the films’ mythology, in the use of lines like “Come with me if you want to live,” and even the names of characters. The “good” hottie terminator from the future (Serenity’s Summer Glau) is named “Cameron,” after James Cameron, while the FBI agent (Richard T. Jones) on their trail is named Ellison, presumably a nod to author Harlan Ellison, who won on-screen credit after his lawsuit asserted that the plot of the original Terminator owed a debt to his episodes of “The Outer Limits” (“Soldier” and “Demon With a Glass Hand”).

Nevertheless, show creator Josh Friedman isn’t straight-jacketed by the big-screen continuity. While the third film, T3: Rise of the Machines, took place after Sarah’s death, the new series features time travel to make an end-run around the events of that movie, so they may not have ever happened. Confusing? Sure! But by the end of “Terminator’s” second episode, Friedman opens up some intriguing possible storylines, which include people from 1999 marveling at cell phone advances in the year 2007 and asking questions like “What’s 9/11?” Mysteries include at least one other human resistance fighter from the future, in addition to a “skinless” Terminator on the loose like a walking metal skeleton.

Fast-paced and exciting, “Terminator” also suffers from clunky dialog, like Ellison’s description of Sarah Connor (whom he believes to be an insane criminal) as a “Grade A whack-a-mole.” With its love of violence, hardware and seedy Los Angeles locations, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” looks quite a bit like Kiefer Sutherland’s “24” in ways both good and bad. Fortunately, the show boasts two terrific actresses in Glau and Headey, and at its best it demonstrates some of the cleverness and girl power of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” shows the potential to be a thrilling sci-fi show or a convoluted mess, but so far, it’s worth the reboot.

Tags: , ,

  • Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Pop Smart

More by Curt Holman

Search Events

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation