Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First Season (2008)

Actors: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau
AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Aspect Ratio:
Number of discs:
Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date:
August 19, 2008
Run Time:
405 minutes



If you were expecting a television series based on the Terminator movies to be a case of Terminator of the week, then we'd be happy to disappoint you here.

The human characters in Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles never have to face a new terminator threat each episode in the same way that a teenaged Clark Kent had to face a new Kryptonite-spawned monster in the early seasons of Smallville. Instead this 2008 TV series takes a leaf out of the Lost and Battlestar Galactica series bibles and basically tells a single narrative instead of opting for the more traditional standalone episode structure. That makes Sarah Connor Chronicles ideal viewing on DVD as you don't have to lose the basic thread of the series and can just slot in the next disc instead.

Sarah Connor Chronicles basically follows up on Terminator 2: Judgment Day and largely ignores the events chronicled (no pun intended) in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Sarah Connor was played in the movies by Linda Hamilton of course, but is portrayed here by 300 actress Lena Headey.

Sarah (as if you didn't know it) is the woman whose son John Connor will one day lead the human resistance against SkyNet, the computer tasked with running the North American defense system. SkyNet of course instead decided within minutes of being activated to rather wipe out humanity altogether by triggering World War III. The second liquid man terminator has been vanquished and the brain behind SkyNet is dead, which means that technically Sarah Connor has changed the future and humanity is saved.

Of course things aren't that uncomplicated - especially if you have a lucrative franchise to milk. Also when one thinks about it logically Sarah Connor cannot change the future and destroy SkyNet ? who else would be sending all those terminators back in time to kill her son then? Logic aside, Sarah keep on trying however - and why shouldn't she?

In this series there are several plots and subplots running all at the same time.

A new terminator in female form is sent back by a future John Connor to protect his teenaged self and his mother. The 27-year-old Summer Glau, better known to sci-fi fans as the chick from Firefly, plays this new Terminator.

Glau comes off best of all the principals. Not only is she quite good as the emotionless and coldly logical machine trying to understand messy human emotions, but she actually looks young enough to pass as a high school student (she is 27). At 20 Thomas Dekker (of Heroes) however looks too old to pass for fifteen. Headey on the other hand simply looks too good at 34 to be the mother of a teenaged son, but she is at least the same age Linda Hamilton was when she made the role famous in T2. (Edward Furlong who played the John Connor role in Terminator 2 originally was actually about 15 years old at the time.)

Other subplots involve SkyNet sending a rather persistent terminator named Cromartie into the past to kill John Connor; Sarah Connor trying to elude capture by just as persistent an FBI agent; and our heroes trying to change the future by thwarting SkyNet's machinations.

It seems that in 2019 time travel is quite common. So common that those time travel machines are probably busier than some terminals at JFK airport!

For starters, the future John Connor has also sent teams of human resistance fighters through time as well, whilst SkyNet has done pretty much the same to ensure that it will not just get built in the first place, but that it will be prepared for the war against the humans. In-between all this the characters have to cope with their own interpersonal relationship issues. The teenaged John Connor is, well, a teenager; the Glau terminator becomes more human as time progresses ? or is she? And so forth.

THE DISCS: All nine 50-minutes episodes are contained on three discs, running 367 minutes. Episodes are presented in the 1.77:1 aspect ratio in which they were filmed. (Thirteen episodes were commissioned, but only nine were made because of the recent Hollywood writer's strike.)

Except for English subtitles there are no extras except for about four minutes? worth of ?terminated? (or rather deleted scenes). The deleted scenes aren't that great on their own and might as well have been included in the original episodes as they flush out a plot point here, a characterization aspect there.

WORTH IT? Ultimately Sarah Connor Chronicles is neither as good as one would have hoped nor as bad as one might have feared. It remains lazily watchable, but never attains the dizzy heights of, let's say, Battlestar Galactica, that other sci-fi TV show dealing with humans vs. machines. Still, one feels quite cheated that there are only nine episodes instead of the usual thirteen or more which usually make up a full season.

RECOMMENDATION: Anal fans of the original Cameron movies might bitch endlessly (why isn't Headey as ripped as Hamilton? why mess so much with the movies' original mythology?) but The Sarah Connor Chronicles ain't all that bad. It luckily avoids the repetitive ?Terminator of the week? plot device for most part. While some episodes are better than others, it is still amazing to see how easily special effects from early 1990s blockbusters can be replicated today on a TV show's budget thanks to, ironically, advances in computer technology . . .



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