Well, I watched season one of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” a couple of months ago and I thought that it was about time that I wrote a review of it. As the title suggests, this is a series which is based on the “Terminator” movies that focuses on Sarah Connor (played by Lena Headey rather than Linda Blair in this series). It also stars Summer Glau as Cameron, a Terminator robot who has been reprogrammed to protect a teenage John Connor.
Thankfully, this series completely ignores the events of “Terminator 3” completely and it begins in the late 1990s where both Sarah and John Connor are still on the run from both the authorities and from the Terminator robots who have been sent from the future to kill John. Of course, the series quickly goes in a slightly different direction (and doesn’t entirely take place in the 1990s…) but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers about it.
Firstly, yes, there are quite a few references to the films in this series (including the famous “come with me if you want to live” line in the first episode) and you might even see a familiar character too. If you liked the first two films, you will absolutely love this series and if you haven’t seen the films, then this series still explains all of the backstory which you need to know [although it still helps if you’ve seen the films]. So, don’t let the fact that you haven’t seen the films put you off from watching this series.
On it’s own merits, the first season of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is as good as or even better than the films.
But, saying this, TSCC has a fair number of differences from the films – for starters, there is pretty much an equal focus on the lives of the main characters as there is on the sci-fi elements of the show. Plus, TSCC also brings the world of the “Terminator” films up to date really well (ok, relatively up to date – it was made in 2008) whilst still remaining true to the spirit of the original films. Not only that, this show also explores and expands a lot on the backstory and mythology of the films too.
One of the reasons why I usually prefer television shows to films is that they have a lot more time to develop their characters and TSCC is no exception to this. Even though this season is fairly short by American standards (it’s just nine episodes long), it still packs a lot of characterisation into just one season. As well as giving you a lot more insight into both Sarah’s and John’s characters, Cameron is an absolutely fascinating character too – especially both her attempts to blend in as a human and the times when she shows that she clearly isn’t human, which can be either hilarious or absolutely chilling depending on the situation.
Both the dialogue and the writing in this series are absolutely superb too and, despite all of the sci-fi elements of the story, it never seems contrived or unrealistic in the context of the story.
But, of course, this is a Terminator series. Characterisation is a good thing, but does the series have enough action in it? The answer is yes.
Even though it probably had a lower budget than the films (although it has the advantage of modern special effects technology), TSCC is just as thrilling and exciting as the films and it is filled with lots of dramatic fights, thrilling missions and car chases.
Like any good TV series, the story keeps moving at a reasonable pace all of the time and there are an interesting variety of storylines and sub-plots too. Plus, TSCC season one maintains a fairly constant sense of suspense throughout the series and you get a real sense of the life of hiding and running which Sarah and John Connor will have to live for the rest of their lives.
Muscially, this series is really brilliant too. The theme tune sounds a lot like the theme music to the films and one of the best scenes in this season also introduced me to an excellent song by Johnny Cash too (“The Man Comes Around”).
All in all, this is a series which is definitely worth watching whether or not you’ve seen the first two “Terminator” films (don’t bother with the third one…). Even on it’s own merits, it’s still an extremely compelling sci-fi/thriller series. If you’re a fan of the “Terminator” films, then you’ll definitely love this series (if you haven’t already watched it).
Since the first season is a lot shorter than the second, you can get it fairly cheaply on DVD too. I haven’t seen the second season yet, but if it’s anything like the first one, then it’s probably worth watching too.
If I had to give this season a rating out of five, then it would get five and a half. Watch it.