2008-02-07

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes the big screen Arnold Schwarzenegger series and translates it to a weekly TV series. I want this series to do well.

In addition to the broadcasts, FOX put together a great website with games, posters, video clips, interviews, and more. You can even watch full episodes on line for free. This trend has been increasing in recent years. Heroes also does well with their website. It's great to see the studios actually taking advantage of new media to more closely involve the fans.

So how is the show?

I watched the pilot last night. Anytime someone makes a TV show about a popular movie franchise they face challenges. They work with smaller budgets and have a lot more time to fill with content. Some shows can manage that.

I don't think this one can.

Granted, I've only seen the pilot, and I do hope the show gets better as the cast and crew get more comfortable with their roles. In this first episode, however, everyone seemed a bit too stiff. The writing was disjointed and the scenes didn't really flow together. It's almost as if each scene was written independently and then dropped into the shell of the show, kind of like the way you fill a containers ship.

If you haven't watched the pilot yet, the rest of this post may contain a spoiler. It's revealed about 20 minutes in, and in other commercials, and on the website, but if you want everything to be a surprise and haven't seen the pilot yet, stop reading now.
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Summer Glau, best known for her amazing work on Serenity and Firefly takes on the Arnold Schwarzenegger role in the series. She plays a Terminator, a robot sent back in time to act as a body guard for John Connor.

But there is something shallow about the character, and I think that has more to do with the writing and direction than it does with Glau's performance.

Perhaps it's unfair to compare her two sci-fi characters, but I'm going to do it anyway.

River, her character from Firefly and Serenity, played an exceedingly intelligent and mentally traumatized empath with deadly fighting skills. She was highly sensitive to her environment and prone to breakdowns. When she called on her fighting skills, she was deadly.

Cameron, her Terminator character is basically a robot soldier sent here on a mission. Programmed to complete her mission, she executes well. But the character doesn't really project that cold, calculating side.

Even though Cameron is a robot killing machine, River is actually the scary one. River is the one that seems more dangerous. River is the one that seems to be more of an outside observer of humanity and less of an active participant.

Then again, in a fight, the crazy person is the one I would be most afraid of. The cold, calculating one could, I suppose, be more predictable.

Regardless, this analysis is based on just one episode. I'm not someone who automatically hates sequels or remakes. I hope The Sarah Connor Chronicles gets better in the coming episodes. If it doesn't, though, it won't be around long.

5 comments:

Sam said...

I felt the same way about Sumer Galu's performance. I never really thought that Arnold was a good actor. How could he be? But he seemed to do really well in this role compared to the TV shows terminators.

The only thing I can think of is that maybe Sumer's terminator charter is a newer model which has more human characteristics. They refer to her being an unknown model in one of the following episodes.

Jon Clarke said...

I've seen three so far. It stays just about the same.

Cromely said...

That's too bad. I've seen a couple more episodes, and I agree it hasn't gotten much better. It's almost like they have enough material for a 45 minute show and are trying to stretch it to 60 minutes.

Selene said...

I have the show taped on my tivo, but I haven't gotten around to watching it yet. This post reminded me that I still need to watch it.

Brian said...

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the others. Though I love Lena Headey, and am amazed at how well she morphed into the tough-gal role of Sarah Connor, I think that Summer Glau is the weak link. Her Terminator is way inconsistent even in the same episode, and that drives me nuts. I loved her in Firefly, but she's just not pulling this off for me.
--Fitz