It’s 10yrs to the day (Aug. 29th 1997) that Skynet software was scheduled to go apeshit, launching trans-global missiles, resulting in a full-on nuclear holocaust, and 23 yrs since the original Terminator film was released and was supposed to have taken place (1984). It has also been 4 years since the cinematic catastrophe known as T-3: Rise of the Machines and 16 yrs since T-2 was released, blowing young minds like an 8-ball of fish scale and redirecting our focus, with revolutionary CGI special effects, to the point where the viewer entirely disregarded the complete lack of time-line feasibility. Out of the ashes, like an anemic Phoenix with fetal alchohol syndrome, hobbles a new addition to the Terminator legacy. On the small screen of the FOX network‘s fall line-up comes Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
The new series is supposed to continue where Terminator 2 left off and ignores the existance of T3 all together. In Rise of the Machines, set in 2004, Sarah Connor was said to have died of leukemia in 1997, so the abandonment of that installment was necessary for the show to even take place. The first episode of the Sarah Connor Chronicles is actually supposed to start in 1999, while simultaneously being set 2 years after T2, which was supposed to have been set in 1994, but which was released in 1991–
“WHAT?!”, you ask.
It looks like before we can go furthur with this review, there are a few inconsistencies that we need to get out of the way.
The original Terminator was released in 1984 and was supposed to have occured in the same year. That’s when everything made sense and was tied into a neat little package… almost. At that point, Linda Hamilton was already 28 yrs old. When Michael Biehn‘s character was sent back in time by her future son, John Connor, to protect his mom and ensure John‘s birth, he actually knocked her up and became his dad. This concept is easily explained away by a concept known as predestination-paradox. This idea of a closed time loop is something that the the series uses repeatedly to explain away inconsintencies and we accepted that. Beings from the future always arrive naked due to the limitations of their time-travel devices, which prevent anything beyond human tissue, such as advanced technology and weaponry, to be transported. Of course the Terminator has no issues when being transported, despite the fact that he himself is a form of advanced technology and weaponry, but we accept that too, because some concepts have to be used to explain away limitations in financing as well.
In 1991, T2 was released and was supposed to be set in the year 1994. John Connor was played by a 14yr old Edward Furlong who was a reckless bastard riding around on a dirtbike in a Public Enemy shirt and hacking ATM machines with his homie, Danny “Budnik” Cooksey from Salute Your Shorts, rocking an L.A. Guns T-shirt and a mullet. We all remember him that way but, according to the time-line, John Connor was supposed to be only 10 yrs old in that film. They never refer to him specifically as a 10 yr old but they emphasize dates as much as, or more than, any film that I’ve ever seen before or since. The dates appear in the corner of the screen, they talk about him being 45 in 2029, the time they are originally sent back from, etc. etc. etc. Even more confusing, they refer to him living with his mom for years and training with guns, before she was locked into the Pescadero mental hospital. A mom who is supposed to be only 29. “29?” That’s right, Furlong was supposed to be 10 and Hamilton, then 35, was supposed to have had him when she was only 19. We accepted that too…rather, we ignored it for a couple of reasons. Ironically enough, the more that the idea of methodically calculated dates and time frames are shoved down your throat, as unlikely as they may be, the less it seems that someone would want to actually break them down, figure them all out, or even give a shit. This is especially true when all kinds of bad-ass effects and explosions are going on. The concept of a closed loop is actually brought back in this one as well, when Cyberdyne actually bases its research off of the found remnants off of the destroyed T-101 Terminator from the first film.
When I saw Terminator 3, Schwarzenegger‘s last starring role before conspiring and pushing Gray Davis out of office, I thought it was brilliant. I thought that it was a brilliant film because I was just wrecked enough to focus on nothing else but the onslaught of product placement. It was more than excessive and I could actually feel myself in a battle of resistence of my own from the futuristic robot marketing campaigns. It was like pop-art. When I watched it sober, however, I realized that it was complete shit and could barley even make it through the first act. At least it settled back at an accurate date, taking place the same year it was released (2004) and attempted to address the issues of transporting advanced weaponry by having the “female” T-X (bka:Terminatrix) smuggling futuristic weaponry up in her body like a Mexican drug mule.
Now that we’ve torn the backstory to shit like a stolen police vehicle from one of the films, it’s time to move on.
THE TELEVISION SERIES
The time is 1999 in the new television series and, somehow, that places Sarah Connor and her son as fugitives 2 yrs after they blew up the Cyberdyne lab in T-2. Sarah is not played by Hamilton nor is she played by her twin sister Leslie Hamilton-Gearren, who played Sarah‘s T-100 clone. Instead, the woman cast for the role was Lena Heady, of 300 fame. The 32 yr old British actress, who is closer to Connor‘s age in this vessel (33), wasn’t exactly blowing up weapon systems technology centers in 1997, she was actually eating spotted dick and working on her career by straddle grinding Casino Royale‘s Daniel Craig in an episode of the U.K. television show The Hunger (must be 18 to watch previous link). Besides 300, she hasn’t exactly had a history as an action star, at least not in the robot fighting sense. She does a decent job from an acting perspective and, believe me, I have much larger fish to fry with this program than a hot British chick in a tank-top who is too young for her character.
The episode starts out with the classic Sarah Connor narrative over, what turns out to be, the patented holocaust dream sequence. She wakes up next to some tool that is, apparently, her new fiance. He is not a weapons expert or equipped with any sort of skills like ninja mind control. He is just some business man who is completely unaware of her history and has only known her for about 6 months. The problem here is that it contradicts the idea that they were going to head to Mexico to escape the authorities and, by having her associate with uninformed, straight-laced fools, it would endanger their safety.
John is played by 20 yr old actor Thomas Dekker, from Heroes, and, somehow, battling liquid metal assasins from the future has resulted in him becoming a hell of a lot less hardcore and more of a sensitive pansy. I liked him more as a punk-ass. That distant, awkward relationship he had with his mom is gone. Now you can easily picture them holding hands and eating meatballs together at IKEA. He even cries a little when he’s telling Sarah that he doesn’t believe that he could be this chosen “messiah” that saves the world someday. “REALLY!?….STILL?!”
One of the major hypes behind this release is the inclusion of actress Summer Glau. Those of you out there that are really stoked about this one, were probably fans of Serenity, and the cancelled show Firefly which spawned it. Hell, you may have even partaken in a Party of 5-style letter writing campaign to keep it on the air. Her character starts off as a class-mate of John who later reveals herself as a Terminator. Sorry fans…I don’t get it. She has way too many human emotions. She’s laughing, smiling, ad-libbing and joking. Later on, once her identity is revealed, she becomes more stoic and robotic. She throws out a couple of really classic catch phrases like, “Come with me if you want to live” and, “We’re back” but they just don’t work at all.
Of course there is also an “evil” Terminator, played by Owain Yeoman. He first finds out about the Connors‘ location when he’s sleeping, I guess they do that now. He is awakened from the mattress on the floor of his apartment when his computer registers new information. No, not the computer in his dome that has the processing grid like the original arcade version of Punch Out, the one that he bought at Circuit City which he keeps by his night stand. He poses as a substitue teacher to infiltrate John Connor‘s classroom. He doesn’t rely on his scanning ability, rather he uses something much more reliable and scientifically sound…..the roll call. He appears to have also transported a weapon from the future to aid him in terminating John Connor, a weapon that he must first cut through his flesh to remove from his outer thigh like fucking RoboCop, a weapon so advanced and precise as to leave him unstoppable! “What is this weapon?”, you ask. I don’t know, it just looks like a glock-9. Yep, just a regular-ass hand gun that shoots bullets instead of lasers.
The most recent prequel to this story ended with the T-1000 transforming like Mr. Fantastic and squealing like a violent sea lion raping while it melted to its demise. These two new TV versions aren’t recognized as Terminators until they start shooting. If they look different, you’d think that they both must be two new forms of Terminator, even more advanced than the liquid metal version that failed. They aren’t. They both just appear to be T-101 models like Arnold played. He played them everytime because they were built on an assembly line and they were all supposed to look the same. I guess they changed that too. Robert Patrick and Schwarzenegger may not be the greatest of actors but they were great for these parts. Arnold‘s voice was foreign enough to sound robotic to most uneducated Americans, anyway and Patrick‘s lack of dialogue and facial movements compounded with his inability to show emotion were key. Robert Patrick‘s career isn’t that consistent. He doesn’t have the amazing talent to write low-quality dated industrial music like his brother. At any rate, don’t destroy his only legacy. Double Dragon isn’t what’s paying his bills.
Regardless of the flaws in T-3 storyline and acting performances, at least it had John Connor as a recluse with no credit cards or cell-phone. In this pilot they make only one attempt, that I’ve noticed, to make it appear as 1999 and that is through Sarah Connor‘s outdated cell-phone. The problem here is obvious…..she has a cell-phone, which means she is easy to trace. They don’t stay in 1999 for long though. At the end of the episode the Connors and the lady Terminator build and enter a time travel device.
“FINALLY! This is what everyone’s been waiting for. Are they gonna stop fucking around and finally show the future wars? That’s all that anyone cares about at this point. YES!”
Nope! That would have been too awesome. Instead they just travel to current date 2007, actually early September. It’s a lot easier and more cost effective than making it look like the late ’90s. Plus, then they would need a competent writing staff, which they don’t appear to have. Maybe that’s too harsh, but the directing is definitely sub-par. With T-4 slated to be released in theaters at the end of the decade, there will definitely be some real life paradoxes there for the story-lines. Furlong is even rumored to be involved and that should help his career which has landed him, more recently, in straight to video releases like The Crow: Wicked Prayer.
So much tradgedy, but since James Cameron isn’t even involved in this project, the real question here is “Who’s to blame?” I’ll tell you who is to blame, James Cameron. He often mentioned making a Terminator 3 but, after fucking over ex-wife Linda Hamilton, she took the writes to the Terminator franchise in the divorce. She then turned right around and sold them, most likely in a huge, “FUCK YOU” and it’s been downhill ever since. Cameron claimed to have thought up the concept of The Terminator in a dream but was later forced to settle out of court and give writer Harlan Ellison acknowledgement once remarkable similaritis were shown between the film and some of both Ellison’s and Philip K. Dick’s literary works.
The first gallery show that I ever saw was by a controversial photographer named Sally Mann. In his film Titanic, Cameron included what he claimed was an “original” sketch of his which, however, looked almost exactly like one of the photos that I saw in that show. Mann thought so as well and she sued his ass.
Don’t you see what’s happening here? This man cannot be stopped. No matter how many times he’s taken to court, and no matter how much money he is legally forced to pay out, he keeps on going. It’s as if Cyberdyne built his career and disguised him as an originator with packaging so impressive that it fails to become relevant when it comes up against his advanced special effects technology. The difference here is that they sent him to a time that was after the works had already been created. He is so indestructably sound financially that he is difficult to stop, short of melting him in a vat or crushing him with industrial factory equipment. There is a saying repeated throughout the Terminator films and that phrase is “NO FATE“. I think that’s bullshit. I think that we’re being forced to live out this rich bastards bad karma and that it has been inevitable all along.
It has been reported that the new program will be delayed until January to prevent its being buried under the slew of new fall programming as well as FOX’s baseball coverage.Furthermore, the school shooting seen, is said to be being removed to avoid any connections with the Georgia Tech massacre.