Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles — The Complete First Season (DVD Review)17 Aug, 2008 By: John Latchem
$29.98 three-DVD set, $39.99 Blu-ray
Stars Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Richard T. Jones, Brian Austin Green, Garret Dillahunt.
When Terminator 3 hit theaters in 2003, many fans found the film enjoyable enough, but a far cry from the first two films, which are now considered classics of the sci-fi/action genre.
The writer and director of the first two films, James Cameron, had nothing to do with the third film, and protagonist Sarah Connor was unceremoniously killed off prior to T3.
So producers of this TV show, looking to further examine Sarah Connor's story, crafted the series as an alternate follow-up to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which ended with the apparent destruction of all traces of the Terminator robots that came from the future to wipe out Sarah and her son, John, who grows up to lead the human resistance against the machines.
"The Sarah Connor Chronicles" picks up shortly after T2, with Sarah (Headey of 300) still trying to protect her son (Dekker), uncertain how much of the future they were able to change.
Any connection to T3 is quickly wiped out in the first episode, which introduces a new Terminator protector (Glau of "Firefly"), who takes advantage of the franchise's time travel plot device to bring Sarah and John from the mid-1990s to 2008, an ingenious development that contemporizes the storyline and eliminates the need to keep track of anachronisms.
Producers wanted to stay as close to the tone of Cameron's original films, and they more or less succeed. The well-plotted show includes several references to the films, including a nod to Sarah's cancer death from T3.
The nine episodes of the first season focus on Sarah's attempts to track down an advanced chess computer that may be a predecessor to the Skynet computer that will declare war on humanity. In the meantime, Sarah must stay hidden from not only an FBI agent (Jones), but also a new Terminator (Dillahunt) hunting for John.
A number of "terminated" scenes shine some light on unused subplots, including a high-school storyline discussed by an enthusiastic Dekker in one of the commentaries. There's also an extended version of one episode.
Most fascinating for franchise fans is probably a three-part documentary about the creation of the show, and how designers subtly updated the Terminators while remaining true to Cameron's original concept.