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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
TV Round-Up
The Sarah Conner Chronicles: "Pilot" and "Gnothi Seauton"
I should preface all of this by saying that while I enjoyed the first two Terminator movies a great deal, I'm not as big an afficianiado of them and their continuity. I say this because I've noticed a lot of on-line discussion and debate related to liberties taken by the series with the continuity from the first two films (apparently this incarnation is ignoring that the third one took place, which is interesting since it's from the same production team).

The thing with a show that involves time travel is that you can't really get too attached to any one continuity I think. For one thing, it will ruin a lot of the fun and for another, if you think about it too much, it will make your head hurt.

So, I approached the two-night premiere of Sarah Connor with the expectation that the series would be reasonably entertaining and hopefully set up its own kind of identity and continuity within the Terminator universe.

So far, so good.

I'll admit the second episode was the stronger of the first two episodes for me and I can see why FOX would want to air them close together. Had the writers' strike not shortened the season, I could even have seen them airing together as one long pilot for the show. But we're running low on new content (except for reality shows) and we've got to stretch what we can. The first half of the story is really about reminding viewers of the situation, what happened in T2 and putting the various characters in play. The second half is more about coming to grips with who these characters are and expanding some of the mysteries the show will (hopefully) resolve in its prime-time run.

So, here's what we know so far--John and Sarah are still alive and have time travelled to the future (for them) to escape the apparent hoardes of T1 models that are being sent back in time to kill John. Now, again I keep reminding myself this is a show about time travel and so to think too much about the implications of it will just make my head hurt. But it does seem that a LOT of time-travelling is going here--and not in the good way. The second episode were Cameron says that future-John sent back a group of resistance fighters to provide John and Sarah with identity papers is one of those plot points that only makes sense if you don't think too long about it. Unless there is some other reason to plant operatives back in time to help himself out that is. Honestly, this becomes a bit Bill and Ted like in that John knows--oh I need identity papers, so I'd better send back some forgers to take care of it. And then the machine figure out what he's done and send another Terminator back to kill the resistance cell. So, at this point, wouldn't the machines know that he's sent people back and wonder why. And that might tip them off to the fact that that's where John Connor disappeared to for a couple of years when there are obviously going to be gaps in their database about him?

See, this is what I mean when I say you can't or shouldn't think too much about these things. I guess I should listen to my own advice every once in a while.

So, you've got John and Sarah on the run with the help of Cameron, who is some new model of Terminator we've not seen before. Apparently she's not a T-1000 as we saw in T2. I have to wonder about that and why the future Terminators are now sending back the lesser models to come and get John. And we don't know a lot about Cameron and she's apparently an unknown model. I'm guessing we'll get some answers to this. But until then, we'll get a few "fish out of water" moments and "trying to understand human behavoir" insights from Cameron. And some kind of weird vibe between John and Cameron.

Meanwhile, we've not even really dealt with the name-sake of this show, Sarah Connor. In the movies, we saw Sarah transform from a victim into a lean-mean fighting machine, obsessed with saving her son and the future. Here we see that same kind of determination though she's not quite as mean. Of course, the movie version we saw in T2 was in the crazy house and did whatever it took to escape from there to help save her son. I did find it interesting that there were some echoes between T2 and this show with Sarah ready to head to Mexico with John only to try and save the future instead. That said, I like what we've seen from the TV Sarah. It's interesting that she gets the knowledge that she'll die of cancer from Cameron and starts to try and do something about that. Will it be successful or will this be a ticking time bomb that hangs over the series?

The second episode did a good job of giving us a bit more about the three main characters in the show and really delving into Sarah and what drives her. We knew some of this from the movies but here we have it reinforced in a good way. And we also see what makes her different from Cameron--at least as Cameron sees it.

And the first two episodes alleviated some reservations I had that this would be a show that would involve eluding whatever Terminator had found them this week syndrome. It could still go that way, but it looks like the show is going to try and have its own mythology and storylines to play out within the universe.

So, I will stick around as long as FOX gives it a chance. This being a genre show, that should be four maybe five episodes and then I'll catch the rest on DVD.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/15/2008 03:48:00 PM | |
> apparently this incarnation is ignoring that the third one took place

As did most of the public, I think :)

I'm enjoying it enough to give it a chance, but I agree they're bordering on hokey with some of it. Like the really conveeeeenient point that the "future" they had to go to just happens to be our present.
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