April 15th, 2009


R.I.P. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

SciFi Wire -- ahem, Syfy Wyre -- is reporting an industry rumor that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been given the axe.

It's a shame. I liked this show and will miss it, but I can kind of understand why it never caught on. The program became unrelentingly grim and increasingly continuity-driven, neither of which is a problem if you've been watching from the start, but both make it nearly impossible to join in as a latecomer in the middle of the run. Viewers who tuned in to see cool robots fighting each other instead discovered a long, maudlin debate over what a pattern of three random dots might mean, a debate that stretched out over something like four episodes. You can see how this might have put some people off.

It didn't put me off, though I do have to admit there were times I rolled my eyes at all the talk about feelings and faith, and wished some robots would just fight each other already. But I did appreciated Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as the brainy science fiction it sometimes was, and at other times tried to be.

It's too bad we're leaving off where we are because things were just getting really interesting, especially with the Skynet from the Terminator movies declaring war on "John Henry," the new Skynet of the TV series. There were some interesting ideas about how the future keeps changing too. I liked how the future that Derek Reese popped back from was slightly different from the future his girlfriend Jesse popped back from. I also liked the fact that the show was hinting at some weird Terminator resistance against Skynet, which was intriguing. But as the show's most interesting character, Cameron, the female Terminator protecting John Connor, received less and less screen time, it lost some of its magic. I'm not sure why the decision was made to keep her in the background, except maybe that they wanted to focus on the family more, and Sarah in particular. After all, it wasn't called Terminator: The Cameron Chronicles.

The highlight of the show turned out to be Brian Austin Green as resistance fighter Derek Reese, John's uncle. He was, quite simply, a revelation. This was the role he was meant to play. David Silver, Donna Martin's geeky DJ boyfriend on the original 90210, has grown up and grown into his own. Given more roles like this, we just might finally forgive him for his 1996 hip-hop album One Stop Carnival.

When Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was first announced, I thought for sure it was going to be awful. I was wrong. In the end, though, it just wasn't what most people were looking for in a Terminator TV show. Like most things in life, it could have used more cool robots fighting each other.