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Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles Review
I'M A ROBOT!
Before I begin I'd just like to say that my experience with the Terminator movies is the first movie and twenty minutes of Terminator 3. I'm hoping my limited experiences with the movies will make me slightly less of a nostalgia fag and I may actually get to be slightly fair about this review. No, seriously. Stop laughing.
Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles basically picks up from where the second movie left off, and completely vaporizes the continuity of the third movie (or so Wikipedia tells me). It follows Sarah and John running away from everything in their lives, including the cops, the FBI, the Terminators, and Sarah's fiancÚ. However, just a mother and son would be too weird, inviting our friend Oedipus to the plot, so instead they insert "way too young to be masturbating to but you will anyway" Cameron to provide some random sexual tension. But (surprise!) she's really a Terminator herself, which I'll bitch about later.
The plot of the story is an exact copy of the second movie, give or take a few good actors and two strong female characters. In Terminator 2 they figure out who creates SkyNet (the thing that screws over the human race) and destroy all his work so no one can do it. In the SCC they discover that someone else builds SkyNet and so they go to the future to kill him too (though it's later revealed that Sarah and John would have died if they hadn't gone into the future).
Let's just point out the obvious problems with the plot. According to Cameron there are dozens of humans from the future who have been sent back to our time by Grown Up Captain America John to fight. Of course, that means that the robots have sent hundreds of Terminators to our time to kill all the time traveling humans. That also means that now they can't make friends with anyone because the Terminators could be ANYONE! Which ruins how the characters' situation is supposed to be special, now that Terminators are running around doing something that doesn't involve them.
Now let's look at each of the main characters. First we have the mother and namesake of the show: Sarah Connor. She's apparently become Samus Aran without the armor, complete with the self-narration and big guns. Unless she made this transformation in Terminator 2 and I missed it, this is a serious change for her character from what it was in the original movie. She doesn't give a damn about what John thinks, and is only focused on the task of keeping him alive and away from the cops. She is apparently extremely committed to this task as they move every few months, taking only "one bag and the guns". She is the stereotypical badass woman, not being allowed to show emotion unless her son is dead (which happens twice in the first twenty minutes of the show!), and loses any indication at all that she is a woman right at the start of the show as they leave her fiancÚ behind.
John is the boy who doesn't listen to anyone or believe in himself. Being the teenager that all teenagers so clearly are, he cannot stand moving constantly and never wants to listen to his mother. He is told to stay in the house and instead runs around town and gets himself ID'd by Mr. FiancÚ (Charley Dixon, if anyone cares). And, in a show so obviously focusing on the power of female characters, he is the most worthless person in the show. When the three of them finally encounter a Terminator (Cromartie), he is the only one who does nothing but stand there and look shocked. He is the one that carries the money and buys the food while Mommy drives and Cameron shoots people dead because she feels like it. If nothing else, the FOX "coming up next" previews show his role in the series, for as the three of them pose, he's the only one without a weapon.
Cameron is the good Terminator, a Terminator model programmed by the future humans to protect John. However, just a standard issue model like the ones sent back in the movies wasn't good enough for the humans. So instead they sent back a teenage girl model that can "imitate human behavior", as she shows us by taking interest in John's life and sensually eating a corn chip. She also is apparently programmed to not use guns often, as she only shoots someone once; rather, she excels in hand-to-hand combat. And by excels I mean sucks terribly. In both of her hand-to-hand combat scenes the other Terminator beats the crap out of her until she either short circuits him or the offender runs away. The only thing she seems any good at doing is turning John on and beating up drunk college students, as we see in the mandatory "let's rape the hot girl" scene that is in every show with a strong female character. All of the jokes about robots not being a part of humanity (and then later understanding what the joke was about) are in the show. We see Cameron not get jokes calling her "Tin Man", and her mimicking the movements of other women in an attempt to blend it. These jokes will be the downfall of the series, as half the episodes will be about trying to get a super killer robot to act like a normal person.
But while this is a show about murder and robots, they try to throw philosophy and humanity in our faces. Every show begins and ends with Sarah making some musings about how she wants to be herself, about how hard her life and future will be, how she needs to buy milk, etc. Then they also go for the sob angle about how terrible 9/11 was by having Sarah learn about it not even a week after being zapped into 2007. Afterwards she goes on a five minute rant about how terrible it must have been to witness it, and how she would have thought all hope was lost. This whole segment was simply put in the story to satisfy the Republicans at FOX who still can't make a speech about the country without saying 9/11. Afterwards Sarah rushes outside to stop Cameron from killing a cop just because he might be a security risk, though Cameron gets her blood thirst in later anyway.
The sad fact about this show is that it would actually be good if it were a movie, or at least as good as you can expect from a movie about killer robots and big guns in this day and age. However, because it's a TV show the plot must constantly focus on the human perspective of it, making jokes about robots going to high school (there will be, guaranteed, a metal detector joke in the next three episodes), and boys falling in love with robots. When thinking about the show, think about it as how The Matrix would fare as a TV show. There would not be enough of an episodic status quo to sustain it, as with Sarah Connor Chronicles. Fans will watch it, fans will like it, but everyone else will only be moderately drawn to the action and big robots. Everything else about it will be mocked.