Abort! Terminate Misson! (The Sarah Conner Chronicles)

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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.

Exactly….
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 FILMS

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-2Sarah 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.

Dead C
UPDATES:
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.

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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  • I knew i should have killed myself after spiderman 3 was released.

    Thanks for destroying Terminator for me like George Lucas destroyed Star Wars for me. Mabye there will be an animated series where Lil’ Johnny Conner and his robot friend abuse jocks and shoot security guards in the leg.
    By the way, He could’ve been aged 10 in T2, if he is the badass he’s supposed to be.
    Also my bro said they have “new” computers in the bunker in T3 at the end when the bunkers are supposed to be like 3o years old(to add to the BS factor), so why do they have fresh dell shits.

    Budnik and camp annawanna rule!

  • BLAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA

  • mhersted

    wow. I want to put a gun with one bullet in it to my head and pull the trigger three times. If I live, I take a shit on a tv guide featuring this show. If I die, then at least I wont have to deal with the knowledge that this show exists.

  • Justin

    I guess this kills any hope of Terminator 4. I was hoping Arnold would come back to the franchise in 2011, after he gets out of office and works with his cronies to change the constitution so he can run and kill the predators in Mars as President of North America. I can’t think of anyone besides Claire Danes and Arnold, that went straight to video or the Oxygen/Lifetime network after being in the Terminator series. It is a kiss of death. Look at Guns and Roses after You Could Be Mine. They got a new drummer and one of their key songwriters quit the band. They went on a tour that would destroy any hope of classic Guns and Roses. All because of their association with with this series. Yeah, the original Terminator was kick ass and the 2nd one was o.k., but what drugs were you doing to make the 3rd one watchable. I want some because I’m planning on watching the sequel to Rock and Roll High School with Corey Feldman.

  • Richard

    Good grief, you really need to get a prostitute or do some very serious drugs before you write another review.
    In any case, you have way too much spare time on your hands.

    Thankfully there are those of us who do realise that the new Terminator series won’t be perfect in every minute detail, but it’ll be fun to watch nonetheless.

  • Richard, seriously…you say I should do more drugs others say I should do less, who should I really listen to? Furthermore, I have more time on my hands to write because I don’t use it sewing up costumes for Stargate conventions.

    Though your comments may be discouraging, I would like to encourage you to follow your dreams and continue to believe. Who knows, maybe one day your dreams will come true and you will be contacted to live out your greatest hopes and become the Last Starfighter

  • Starsinsky

    Dead C-

    Wow! Can’t stand James Cameron. Most of his stuff is crap. I got caught up in the Titanic hype, but on 2nd and 3rd viewing, it was ok, but not great. Mostly the sets and customs were gorgeous.

    As for the timeline screw-ups, that sort of detail makes me mad. It’s like a big FU to all fans of the original movie. Joss Wheadon did the same thing with Buffy. In the movie, Buffy was a Senior in High School and fought off master vampire (brillantly played by Pee Wee Herman) at her Prom. Then on the show suddenly Buffy was only a Sophmore. I originally refused to watch the show, because of that change. Though, I must confess I finally did watch BTVS and loved it. Kudos, to the writing team for paying attention to details for all 7 seasons. I loved the fact that after Giles and Buffy’s mom had sex in season 3’s “Band Candy”, it was referred to again in later seasons.

    The Sarah Connor Diaries sounds like one colassosal, confused mess.
    If they are going to do it, then they need to hire writers who pay attention to details and try to follow the original story/timeline of the movies as much as possible. Also, John Connor can not go all sensitive. This is a kid with a mom in a mental institute being passed around the foster care system. He’s going to be really messed up, cynical, and distrustful. Unless John is taking estrogen supplements to get in touch with his “feminine” side, puberty and adulthood should just magnify and increase his issues.

    What is it with Hollywood turning crappy TV shows into movies, and vice versa? I will admit that Buffy is an exception, but I believe that’s because Wheadon maintained most of the creative control. Has the town lost it’s creativity or just scared to try anything new? It seems like most of the movies out are crappy sequels made only to generate more revenue and product placement fees for studios. It’s sad to thing of all the cool, imaginative, and quirky scripts, that are being passed over to make these bloated, overdone, make-me-more-money films.

  • Starsinski-
    The odd thing about the casting of Thomas Dekker as John is that, on Heroes he played a character that looked and acted a lot more like the Character from T-2. He was the kid in season one that filmed Claire following off towers and breaking her bones, so the casting must not be the issue. The directing is bad.

  • Starsinsky

    Dead C-

    I’m not familiar w/ Thomas Dekker. I wasn’t into Heroes. In fact, 90% of the shows on the regular networks are a waste of time, and since I don’t have cable, I pretty much stick to movies, or if I like a show wait till it comes out on DVD, so I don’t have to put up w/ the commercials.

    I guess I shouldn’t be suprised that FOX would make a show out the Terminator movies. Rupert Murdoch will do anything to make a buck, to continue his acquistions of WSJ and other news sources. The man is bent on world domination through owning all media/news sources. The FCC is doing nothing to stop him, in fact they seem to make it easier for him.

    FOX had some good shows. That 70’s Show was great, but the majority of the programs seemed to be ripped off from other shows on the big 3 networks, done more cheaply. Why not invest a little more effort and money into makng a good show?

    I just remembered another movie to TV show that was well done-Stargate.
    I watched it first as a TV show, then saw the movie on DVD. Of course, the Stargate portal meant timelines and characters could be more fluid, but the show was well written and fun to watch.

  • Yeah, I thought that HEROES was going to be shit myself at first. Our writer M. Hersted lent Season 1 to me and it sat on my couch for about 2 weeks. Finally when I was bored one night i put it in. I stayed up until about 4am that night watching it. There are about 26 episodes and my girlfriend and I tore through them pretty quickly. You should check it out you might be surprised.

  • Todos sobre la serie The sarah Connor Chronicles en un solo lugar

    http://www.sconnorchronicles.com.ar

    Saludos

  • b00Yah

    Heroes and Firefly were great.

    Watched the pilot of Sarah Conner Chronicles and I was too distracted by the scenes and dialogue that reminded me of the T-movies. “class dismissed” (only Arnold can do those one liners), “come with me if you want to live” haven’t we heard that before.

    I want to believe, but when you do things that aren’t logical. Turn a bus over…what’s with that, walk around, hide a gun in your leg … just walk up and strangle him. Sarah Conner is on the run, expericenced at hiding, and she still uses her former alias (Reese was John Conners dad)

    It’s like those bands that do a remake of a song and when you listen to it, it sounds the same as the original! The same with this pilot, it feels like they re-shot scenes from the movie and spliced them together.

    BTW only living tissue can be transported through time, thats why the Terminators have living skin covering them. But we are told in the first movie that only one can come through at a time. Now at the end of this pilot, they can transport three! What the …

    If a movie can draw me in, then I’ll go for the ride and ignore the inconsistencies. It’s when the inconsistencies become overwhelming that I start to nitpick.

    Do you know how hard it was for me to find a review that didn’t gush and rave on about how exciting and fantastic this pilot was. Accurate review, keep it up.

  • Thanks for the comments. I didn’t expect people to actually enjoy the show so that is shocking to hear.

  • Chris

    Like a car passenger on a highway passing the scene of a massive pile-up, my curiousity has me stoked to watch this more than likely colossal, gargantuan piece of dinosaur crap.

  • ZeroCorpse

    Arnold did not play a T-101. Well, not exactly.

    His Terminator body was a T-800 and T-850, depending on which movie you’re talking about. The appearance given to each unit was that of Arnold, which is the T-101 you’re talking about. Inside the T-101 skin were two separate models of Terminator from movie to movie.

    The explanation here, then, is that the Terminators in the show are likely either T-800 or T-850 models, with a different appearance (non T-101) for their mission disguise.

    You really thought ALL Terminators were supposed to look like Arnold? Didn’t you catch that they were given skin to “blend in” and complete missions by infiltrating human encampments? How effective would it be if they used the same face and form every time? Arnold would walk into a human meeting and everyone would say, “Look! A Terminator!” and attack.

    So Arnold didn’t play “a” T-101; More appropriately, Arnold IS the T-101 mold. Whatever appearance designation “Cameron” has, it’s HER unique appearance model number, but the inside parts– the actual terminator robot– is probably a T-850.

    Same goes for the bad guy terminator. Probably a T-850, but with a different face/form designation.

    Oh, and the T-1000 has no appearance designation because it can change shape on its own. `Doesn’t need skin or a “shape” to blend in.

    I’m sorry that I know that, but I do.

  • Richard said “get a prostitute OR serious drugbooze B4 writing another review” ?

    C’mon — “let ye who is without sin be at first stoned … then the girls around here start looking good.” (Jesus, Grateful Dead).

    -Pete Moss