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Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles S1[DVD]

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By Clint Morris

A “Terminator” TV series that stars ‘David Silver from 90210’?

Er, yeah. That’d last about as long as as, well, every other short-lived TV spin-off of a popular movie. Sure to be just as as exciting as fishing in a dry river, too. Nothing good could come of this.

But let Brian Austin Green force me to the ground, shove dirt in my mouth, and ask me to repeat the words “Ok, it works! It works!” because to my surprise – and I’m guessing a lot of other “Terminator” fans bewilderment – “Sarah Connor Chronicles” does work…. and without the producers even bringing on in anyone else from West Beverly High (I know! Shocker! You’d think they’d have had to resort pretty quickly to bringing in Luke Perry to play an unstoppable Cyborg. Thankfully, it never resorted to that. And for what it’s worth, Green’s turn on the show has almost erased any memory of his 90210 character. If that’s possible).

Despite the unfortunate timing of coming out after “Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines” – the shittiest of the film series, and one that obliterated a lot of the possibilities for this show, least of which was killing off the lead character – “Sarah Connor Chronicles” picks up just after the events of “Terminator 2 : Judgement Day” and for the most part, doesn’t seem to give much of a hoot about what went on in Jonathan Mostow’s ill-fated sequel. It merely builds on what was set up in Jim Cameron’s 1991 blockbuster – following Sarah Connor (played here by “300” beauty Lena Headey) and her son, John (“Heroes” star Thomas Dekker) as they move onto post-Schwarzenegger adventures. It’s a good idea they’ve come up with too – a time-travel piece – much more effective than the originally rumoured idea of a workplace comedy set at Skynet.

Sarah Connor and son John decide to stop running and seek out a way to destroy SkyNet (that’s SkyNet not SkyNews). With the aid of Cameron Phillips (Summer Glau), a beautiful girl who has a mysterious past also linked to the future, the robot-battling threesome head into the future – beginning their quest to stop the United States military and Cyberdyne Corporation from creating the program that will bring humanity to an end.

You won’t like the show initially – if only because the low-budget stands out like a wart on an ear-lobe, and as a consequence, nothing in those first couple of episodes – speaking mainly of the action sequences – comes close to knocking your socks off like the terrifically-choreographed sequences of “T1” and “T2”. Thankfully, the producers recognize this pretty early and make up for the lack of expensive explosions with a storyline that really starts to grab. By mid-season, you’ll be close to hooked. And if you’re not, you’re not going to be.

The show does lack of a good unstoppable evil Terminator – Schwarzenegger was just so good in the role; Robert Patrick too – but thankfully Headey (especially good as Connor), Dekker and Summer Glau (“Serenity”) are all good in their roles, so it’s not too noticeable a blemish. The show likes to have a few different actors playing Terminators throughout the series, and though that’s a brave and creative move, it doesn’t always work. If they’re doing that as a ways to find which one works best, then good, but I’m thinking the producers are actually thinking this is an audience-pleaser. It ain’t. Stick to the one guy (later on they use Garrett Dillahunt, of “Deadwood” fame, and he sticks around for a while) and you’ll find it works better. We need to get to know the flesh-covered robot on the Connors’ trail. We need a dangerous, unstoppable robot like we’ve seen in the originals. We need to know that when we see ‘this guy’ it spells trouble. Skip an episode of the show, and you’ll be hard-pressed knowing who the Terminator even is – that’s how often they change the guy’s flesh.

Brian Austin Green enters the series about three-quarter-way. He plays Derek Reese, the brother of Kyle Reese, the chap who came back to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator in the original film (and later fathered her son). Derek’s a rough-around-the-edges rebel, not quite as outwardly likeable as his late brother, who’s convinced ‘Cameron’ is up to no good. It’s an interesting character and – by golly, I can’t believe I’m saying this – one that ultimately helps turn the show into the intriguing series it became.

Extras

Extras on the DVD are pretty light actually – only a selection of deleted scenes

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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