This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the series premiere of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect when Fox first announced they were going to bring the Terminator franchise to the small screen, and in the process recast one of the genre’s more famous roles: Sarah Connor. But I have to say, after watching the first episode, I am looking for more.
Taking place three years after the events of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — a movie that premiered when I was still a teenager — Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) and her son John (Thomas Dekker) are still on the run, fearful that despite their belief that the end of the world wouldn’t be coming, they still had to stay safe.
Headey, of course, looks nothing like what she did in “300,” so the biggest obstacle is trying to see her in the role that we’re all used to seeing Linda Hamilton portraying. But her grace and strength really don’t give us much of a choice other than to give in right away, and realize that Headey may be no Hamilton, but at the same time, Hamilton is certainly no Headey.
Since the role has already been cast twice, it was easier not having to imagine other John Connors in Dekker’s role. The challenge there was to separate Dekker from his role of Zach on NBC’s “Heroes,” the gay/not-so-gay friend of Claire Bennet. This Dekker, however, has a completely different look — more of a rough edge, like someone who has been partying all night, and there’s very little Zach in the world of “Sarah Connor.”
There are a lot of concerns I keep hearing about “Sarah Connor” being nothing more than a chase and hunting episode each week, but just because the pilot brought us a lot of running from the Terminators, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to be seeing new ways for the Connors to escape each week … and just narrowly, too. To say that would also be saying that each episode of “Battlestar Galactica” includes Viper battles with the Cylons. That’s not the case — there is far more story development than that, and from what I understand in the new “Sarah Connor,” we’re going to be getting a lot of the same.
I’m typically not impressed with pilot episodes, but “Sarah Connor” has the benefit of being linked to a popular franchise where people who are going to be interested in this series likely already have some good background. This episode needed nothing more than a quick primer, and that’s exactly what was delivered to us. This episode kept moving, and provided what could almost be cinematical quality, believe it or not, right there on Fox.
When I spoke with Josh Friedman, the man who developed “Sarah Connor” for television, I asked him what time period this would take place, since technically it would have to be the mid- to late-1990s, according to the timeline established in “T2.” He told me that it would actually be taking place in our present.
When “1999” flashed on the screen, I was thinking, “That jerk, he told me it would take place in the present, and now I look like a moron.” But I didn’t have to look like a moron for long. Thanks to a nice bank deposit made in the 1960s, we not only got a glimpse of the lengths the human resistance would go to protect their victory, but also a pretty innovative way to move the characters from 1999 to 2007 in Sarah’s search for SkyNet.
It should be pretty interesting to see how they adapt to how much life changes in eight short years, and to me, this will be a fun part of the entire adventure.
What Didn’t Work
I’m all for nostalgia, but we really could’ve done without Summer Glau’s “Come with me if you want to live” line from “T2.” I just thought it made what was a cool moment kind of campy, and almost ruined the experience for me.
It’s nice to have such shout-outs to the original movies, but let’s keep it to a minimum.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” stars Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, and Richard T. Jones. The pilot episode was written by Josh Friedman and directed by David Nutter.
It airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
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