Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Interest Terminated

Yes, the title of this post is cheesy and awful. But the genius of it is that I know it's awful and I'm trying to illustrate a point.

So I tried watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and the results were typical.

I'm not sure why I bothered - maybe I need something to fill the void of 24, or maybe I'm reminscing back to the day my father introduced me to the original Terminator movie (I immediately watched it again as soon as it ended.) But watching the previews gave me a sick feeling that this series would do more to taint the franchise than Terminator 3 - and it turns out those feelings were justified.

It followed the same basic Fox formula of 24 - high on production value, low on logic - but to a sublimely ridiculous extreme. Crafting a story about time travel can be difficult and paradoxical at best. But when this concept is mixed with lazy writing, the results are disastrous.

The future John Connor sends back a friendly terminator that looks like Summer Glau, which is almost, but not quite, reason enough to watch. Presumably, he sends her back in time so that she can not only protect him from Bad Terminators, but also...try to follow me she can recover the pieces of a time machine that were built by an engineer he also sent back in time, in order to jump forward past the point of his mother's death. Phew. This might be a clever plan if his mother died in some sort of violent confrotation that could be avoided, but we're told that she dies of cancer. So naturally, instead of jumping to a time where cancer has been cured, they show up in 2007.

I suppose there are two major reasons for this: 1) to satisfy some sort of time gap in the plot lines of the Terminator movies, which I don't remember beyond the violence and the one-liners anyway, and 2) to prevent the inevitable anachronisms from creeping into a dated show. Neither benefit seems to outweigh the goofiness of such an obviously contrived device.

But it doesn't stop there - nonsensical (but convenient) time travel is used again as a crutch in the second half of the premiere as future John sends back resistance fighters with a safe full of money, diamonds, and weapons that fall right into the hands of our heroes.

Sprinkled into the broken soil of this plot are occasional seeds of tenderness, encouraging me to identify with the teen angst of John Connor or the parental instincts of Sarah. But like the rest of the show, these moments are unconvincing and cheesy. John is portrayed as anything but exceptional - a whining teenager who just wants to be like everyone else - so much that I can't believe Skynet makes such a fuss over him. Whoever would take over the resistance if he never existed would have probably done a better job and won the war ten years earlier. Lena Headey does a reasonable job as Sarah, but the writers have taken liberties with her character as well. Gone is the manic, almost homicidal intensity of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, replaced by a tough yet reasonable mother trying desperately to raise the Future Leader of the World.

/Yawn. I'm even getting bored writing about it. At least There Will Be Blood should be out soon.


At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Zor said...

Mean... If you are looking for another reason to watch Summer Glau, rent FireFly. FireFly is *excellent*.


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