STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $18.99
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 394 minutes
Commentaries on three episodes by Executive Producer Josh Friedman and cast / crew
Creating the Chronicles: Three-Part Look at the Series’ Production Process
Extended Cut of Episode 7, “The Demon Hand”
Cast Audition Tapes
Terminated Scenes: Unaired Moments
Storyboard Animatic
Summer Glau Dance Rehearsal
Gag reel

The Pitch

Terminator fan but you didn’t like how things ended up in Rise of the Machines?  No problem…

The Humans

Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Richard T. Jones, Brian Austin Green, Dean Winters.

The Terminators

Summer Glau, Garret Dillahunt

“Look, before we get too involved here, I have to warn you that I have had a psychotic machine in the past try to kill me.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean, I was married once too…”

The Nutshell

Taking place a few years after the events of Judgment Day, but separate from Rise of the Machines, The Sarah Connor Chronicles picks up the the story of both Sarah and John Connor (Headey, Dekker), who are living an incognito life, ever wary that the either the authorities or more of Skynet’s cyborgs from the future will find them.  When one of them does, a cyborg named Cromartie (Dillahunt), Sarah and John are thrust back into the battle with the oncoming future that will eventually spell doom for humanity.  Their only ally initially is Cameron, a young girl with a secret tie to the future, and later, FBI Agent James Ellison, who ironically enough, is also tracking them.  The battle for the human race hasn’t begun, but it’s picking up again.

Evidence that the IRS is getting a little too tightly wound…

The Lowdown

The very first movie I saw for free when I got a job at a movie theatre when I was 18 in 1991 (yeah, I’m, old I know) was T2.  I watched the hell out of that movie: in the theatre, on video and later DVD.  I waited eagerly for a sequel, but it was 12 years before T3 came along.  Now while I was generally satisfied with that film, I was nonetheless severely disappointed that they wrote Sarah Connor out of it, with something as senseless as having died of leukemia offscreen years before.  It just came off as another convenient sequel (pardon the pun) termination of a central character just so the story could continue.  I felt that Sarah was as integral to the story as everyone’s favorite Austrian Oak.  And the impressive work by Linda Hamilton as Sarah and the raves she got in T2 made the absence of the character all the more pronounced.  So I was quite pleased to hear that there was a TV adaptation of the movie franchise brewing, where Sarah would again be where she belonged, in the heart of the story, right beside John, fighting the hyper-alloy skin jobs.

“Man, this time travel thing sucks!”
“Aren’t you happy to see me naked?”
“You, yes.  My mom, not so much…”

After having seen the entire first season on TV, I can safely say that I’m not disappointed with The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  The show does what any successful TV adaptation needs to do: take the heart of the source material and put its own spin on it in creating the new stories.  No knock on Thomas Dekker, who I think is fine as John on the show, but casting a teenage John Connor wasn’t going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome.  The real challenge was finding someone to take up the mantle of Sarah Connor, which has been Linda Hamilton’s signature role outside of Beauty and the Beast‘s Catherine Chandler.  Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, and star Lena Headey does an admirable job.  She’s sexy, tough and believable in the role.  As for Summer Glau, she’s also fine, although she isn’t taking too big a leap from playing the disaffected River Tam, rather playing a disaffected Terminator here (my order for her model is on backlog…a long backlog apparently). I’m glad also to be seeing Richard T. Jones, whom I’ve always liked, in this show as well.

“Man, I hope you’re not some psycho Terminator chick or something.  I don’t think I could handle the drama.   What did you say your name was again?”
“River Tam…”

Chronicles stays rather true to the overall Terminator mythology, and brings several new things to the table, the least of which isn’t Glau as Cameron.  It also mines new territory regarding the war with Skynet, and particularly to the time travel aspect of the franchise.  The coolest example of this is easily the homemade time machine built by a human resistance engineer who quantum leaped back to circa 18963 and built the damn thing into a bank vault in Los Angeles.  By utilizing this (plot) device, Chronicles is able to stay rather faithful to the timeline as set forth in the movies, springing our heroes forward in time eight years to the present from 1999, thus keeping the Connors at their familiar ages without having to set the entire show back nearly a decade in time for its entire run.  I also like that Chronicles doesn’t
overlook the leukemia aspect to Sarah’s character, although I’ll be damned
if I see her succumb to it again.

“You’re in the shitter now, pal.  Leonidas is so gonna kick your ass for this…”

Chronicles also expands the Reese family slightly, with the addition of Brian Austin Green as Kyle’s older brother, Derek.  There’s a poignant scene late in the season where he takes John to a playground to view a certain set of young brothers as they were before the war, both of whom John is intimately connected to.  So far, Chronicles hasn’t gotten too overpopulated with T-888s or any other Terminators, although we do have a couple of other  walking toasters scurrying around the present day, including Vick (Matt McColm), a cyborg who was so far undercover, he married a woman and convinced her that he was human in order to facilitate the building of a computerized traffic system Skynet planned to use in the future.  We also get a look at the 600 Series, rubber skin and all, in the future.

Where Nick is coming up with some of these new CHUD bloggers is beyond me…

There’s also another Terminator, Carter (Brian Bloom), who was sent back to preserve large amounbts of coltan, a key ingredient in Terminator endoskeleton construction.  But of course, none of them compare to Cromartie (Garrett Dillahunt), who is the main baddie of the series.  He’s as determined as Arnie’s original 1984 model, going so far as to have replaced his entire skin covering.  We also learn that Terminator skin is living, but synthetic, not requiring the oxygen from bone marrow that human skin does.  They also do a nice bit of setting up just how any part of a terminator can be dangerous, using Vick’s disembodied chip to try to get info on the traffic system he was safeguarding, before having to pull the plug on his wireless connection when he takes over their computer and identifies John as the primary target.  There’s also more to Cameron than we know, which I’m looking forward to discovering.

Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles makes for a pretty good watch, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise like I am.  It does suffer at times bit from the limitations of a TV budget, most notably when seeing a full, fuzzily-rendered endoskeleton in motion, but otherwise, the effects are quite good.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this show.

“Hey, wow!  Is that Arnold doing a cameo?”
“No, he just dropped by for a visit.”
“Then…why is he naked and with a shotgun?”

The Package

First of all, the TV show looks great.  It’s filmed in widescreen,
which at this point in time, should be mandatory on all action shows. 
The sound is also suitably good in Dolby Surround 5.1.  Strangely
enough, the only other language track is in Portuguese Dolby Surround
Stereo.  There’s also a plethora of subtitles including English,
French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai and again with Portuguese.  The
show must be big in Brazil or something.  The special features, which there are a lot of, break down like this:

Disc 1:

There are commentaries on two episodes: “Pilot” by executive producers Josh Friedman and james Middleton, director David Nutter and Glau; and on “The Turk” by Friedman, director John Wirth, Headey and Dekker.  There are Terminated Scenes, five from “Pilot” and one from “The Turk.”  Creating the Chronicles is a three-part behind-the-scenes: Reboot tells of how the show came into existence, including casting, stunt work and production design and runs about 16 minutes.  Future War tells of the production of “Dungeons and Dragons,” an episode that shows Derek’s backstory in the future and runs 10 minutes, with segues into location shooting and the design of the futuristic set.  The Demon Hand covers production of the episode of the same title and clocks in at 11 minutes.  There’s also a gag reel that runs 3.5 minutes.

“Amazing!  I can’t believe we’ve been instantly transported to another time!”
“There’s something else…I feel different somehow.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well for starters, I never noticed how tight your glutes were before…”

Disc 2:

There’s a terminated scene for “Dungeons and Dragons.”  There’s also cast audition tapes for Headey, Dekker and Jones, running four, two and four minutes respectively.  Be prepared to crank the audio on those because it’s very low.  Next there’s a two-minute piece on Summer Glau rehearsing dancing.  Why it’s there though, not quite so sure.  Lastly, there’s a three-minute storyboard animatic for the first appearance of Cromartie in the pilot where he attempts to kill John and John is rescued by Cameron.

Disc 3:

There’s a commentary on “What He Beheld” by Friedman, director Ian Goldberg, Glau and Green.  There’s also an extended, 52-minute cut of “The Demon Hand” and two Terminated Scenes from the same episode.

Plenty of good stuff here to keep Terminator fans busy.  Only drawback is that there are only nine episodes in this first season. 

“CHUD Target EdHocken acquired…”

7.5 out of 10