January 14th, 2008


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

When they announced last year that they were making a Terminator TV series, I was one of the many who scoffed at the idea. I thought it sounded ridiculous. But you know what? Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiered tonight on Fox and it wasn't bad. In fact, I liked it quite a bit (despite opening with a scene that was immediately recognizable as a lame dream sequence). It was everything Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines should have been (not that T3 was all that bad, but it could have been a lot better), and probably would have been had Linda Hamilton reprised her role. Taking place a few years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the premiere also offered a nice Dyson family call-back, which was a brief bit of welcome continuity.

300's Lena Headey does a fine job filling Hamilton's formidable boots as Sarah Connor with the right mix of motherly love and batshit overprotectiveness. Thomas Dekker as John Connor does a better job than Nick Stahl did in T3, though, oddly, not as good as then-amateur Edward Furlong in T2. And it's always nice to see Dean Winters, late of Oz, Law & Order: SVU and 30 Rock.

Which brings us to Firefly's Summer Glau as Cameron, this iteration's good terminator (not really a spoiler, since she's shown as a terminator in all the print and TV ads, though the premiere tries to make a big exciting reveal out of it). Glau's addition to the cast is both the show's best move, since she has sci-fi cult cachet and lots of leftover audience goodwill, and its weakest link. Glau hasn't found her voice yet in this role, both figuratively -- she seems frequently lost as to what to do with herself when her character isn't squeezing a trigger or driving a pickup truck into an enemy robot -- and literally: the delivery of her "Come with me if you want to live" line was garbled and rushed. I suspect she'll grow into the role, though. It's a juicy one, and with a little more confidence she can really tear into it.

I'd also like to take a moment to give props to Bear McCreary's music. It's a close approximation of Brad Fiedel's score from T2, and it fits really well. (Whatever happened to Brad Fiedel, by the way? He did some of the best movie music of the 80s and 90s, including Terminator, Fright Night and The Serpent and the Rainbow.)

Anyway, I liked what I saw enough to keep tuning in to The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Like this fall's Bionic Woman reboot, I think it's got just the right mix of girl-power spunkiness and sci-fi fun to stay in the race. But also like Bionic Woman, it's going to need to shake things up right quick, or else the constant run-fight-run formula is going to get stale quickly.

The Snow Over Innsmouth

They were panicking on the local New York City news last night. They screamed "Four to eight inches of snow by morning! Four to eight inches!" with the same sense of desperate urgency as the announcement that nuclear missiles had been launched at us.

"God help us all," I saw one anchorwoman say before smearing her face with red warpaint. She proceeded to chop up her co-anchor and stuff his body parts into Ziploc bags to, as she put it, "survive the food shortages to come during the snow holocaust."

When the weatherman appeared on screen, his eyes were empty, bleeding sockets. He held out his hands to the camera, something round and squishy hidden in each palm, and gibbered about how he couldn't "dare to face the hideous abominations that will surely rise from the snowbanks to devour our souls!"

The weatherman screamed, and suddenly a blood-red fist appeared from out of his mouth and he dropped to the floor, dead. Behind him, wiping the blood off his hand, was the sports reporter. He had put on a gold cape and a tall, Pope-like hat. "Follow me," he said into the camera, "for I am the vessel of the Lord. All shall perish who do not come unto him, for damnation shall rain down from the sky tonight. Fluffy, white damnation!"

Then the cameraman's blood washed over the lens and the screen went black, though there were a few extra seconds of sound: terrified screaming, mad gibbering, the sickening whuck sound a swung blade makes when it enters flesh, and then nothing but silence.

Anyway, after all that, we didn't get any snow here.