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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First & Second Seasons

01/11/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First & Second Seasons in the USA - or Buy Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First & Second Seasons in the UK

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region 2 DVD: pub: Warner Bros. 9 DVDs 1034 minutes 31 episodes and extras. Price: about GBP 12.00 (UK) if you know where to look). stars: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Brian Austin Green, Garret Dillahunt, Shirley Manson, Leven Rambin and Richard T. Jones.

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I have to confess to being a little apprehensive in watching ‘Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles’. I mean, it’s well documented in the four ‘Terminator’ films as to the fate of Sarah Connod136r, where else could it go?

The more I watched this series, the more it stayed within an article I wrote about the ‘Terminator’ films a few years back. Every time Sarah or John Connor thought they had prevented the future, all they had done was delay it and therefore changed the circumstances of events. In multiverse terms, you could have different realities, each with the Connors as the nexus for change or them being there at the right time ensured another nexus, the existence of Skynet comes into being. As such, it is possible to see these two seasons as an alternative reality without it messing with any future film or even TV possibilities.

Things like having other people and cyborgs sent into the past would have to have been done after Kyle Reece was sent back but then as every change in the past made would create an alternative future, there is no telling how many alternative futures there are with Skynet destroying the world. It would make for an interesting story had there actually been a benevolent Skynet in the future but would the malevolent Skynets destroy it instead? Hmmm…that actually sounds like one of the things they might actually have been planning to do for season three, except that it got pulled.

The Connors in this particular reality are trying to stay under the computer system radars when they are stalked by another terminator. Actually, the term ‘terminator’ isn’t used until the final episode or the audio commentaries and are called cyborgs. For review clarity, we’ll call them what they are. To save them, another Terminator arrives, this time made to look like a girl, Cameron (actress Summer Glau) Phillips. To get them to safety, she finds a time capsule device in a bank and projects all three eight years into the future. The pursuing terminator’s body survives and takes actions to acquire more flesh and to complete its mission. Added to this mix is another time traveller, Derek Reece (actor Brian Austin Green), the brother of Kyle and there to help protect John (actor Thomas Dekker) from harm. The suspicious Sarah (actor Lena Headey) finds she now has a small team to lead, which is just as well as the plan changes as they pursue any artificial intelligence project that could be used to make Skynet as their main objective.

These goals changed throughout and there were always new turns to take. This series could quite easily have turned into a ‘Fugitive’ series with them always having to stay one step ahead of pursuit. As they had their own objectives and others had different plans, which is definite spoiler zone, the series became fleshed out, especially as John becomes assertive and reminding, even with his self-doubts, that he has to make the decisions that would make him an important leader in the future.

I’ll hit on a few things that struck me though.

Getting them to modern day was a good option in order to not having to keep the 1990s setting, although it’s a shame that their clothes weren’t transported with them and left the zips and anything metallic behind. After all, it’s only uninsulated flesh covering metal that isn’t projected. They would still have had problems with their clothes but less questionable as to why the metal didn’t fragment bomb them in the teleportation process.

Considering that Sarah Connor was plucked from the 1990s to 2010, it seems odd in episode three that she would say, ‘I’m good’, which is modern day. Like the Cameron robot, she should have been a human out of water with current idioms. There is also the problem of Cameron at the school metal detector. If she was programmed with Earth history, she would have been aware of this and have a solution that would have been credible. I wonder what would have happened had she had a school medical?

It’s also rather startling to see that Sarah doesn’t know much computer science, even the basics, considering what they are facing. Sarah’s worry about cancer only negates natural causes and puzzled why she or her doctor hadn’t considered avoiding radioactive sources. One could argue that her fear of machines could work against her but surely this would also have extended to John as well.

There is also the puzzle in episode four why Sarah would be using C4 and not make the more potent bomb material Kyle Reece showed her how to make and more dangerous to Terminators.

An odd thing from watching the sixth episode was whether or not, the ex-boy-friend medic was told how Sarah and John retained their youth by time travel was explained in the deleted scene from the story. It’s a shame that these deleted scenes weren’t included in the stories to make them a special edition as they never appear to mess the pace of the stories when watched separately.

Episode seven shows how Skynet is contributing to its own creation which is making its own paradox. I mean, if it’s not there in the future, how can it make itself in the past? Thank the Illuminatii for existing alternative futures. Unfortunately, for Sarah and co, they’re in a ‘present’ that Skynet can manipulate.

With the eighth and final episode of season one, I’m puzzled why the ex-FBI agent James Ellison (actor Richard T. Jones) stayed alive and looked the Terminator (Garret Dillahunt) in the face. Well, other than the fact that he was going to appear in the second season. Let’s hope they justify his survival. They do indeed. Talk about a stalking horse and being crafty.

There is one immense flaw with the destruction of the Terminator chassis, indeed it even goes back to the second ‘Terminator’ film as well, although perhaps being dipped in molten metal absorbs radiation from its twin power pack. However, with this series, reducing the metal to slag like they do there is likely to contaminate anyone nearby with radioactive particles, assuming these power packs don’t explode.

The fourteenth episode with the ghost of Kyle Reece was a remarkable channelling of a younger Michael Behn.

Considering how ground-breaking the special effects was in the original films, especially ‘Terminator 2’, it’s nice to see it being used so effectively in modern day.

I put the clues together as to who was who by the beginning of the last episode and nice to see I was right. Revelations from the clues given always shows some intelligent writing and the viewer is not treated as a couch potato so pay attention to the series, just don’t listen to the last two audio commentaries until you watch the last two episodes first.

Logistically, it is possible to come back with a third season or even a new series, ‘The John Connor Chronicles’ perhaps? There’s certainly enough of a cliff-hanger at the end to lead it in a different direction if they chose to resurrect the series but they can’t leave it too long or Thomas Dekker will look too old.

Despite the abrupt ending, this boxset is worth paying attention to and it’s a shame it was so abruptly ended.

GF Willmetts

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