GMMR Spotlight: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote


January 5, 2008 by  

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles | Series Premiere
2-Night Premiere: Jan. 13th @ 8pm & Jan. 14th @ 9pm on FOX

It’s not often I find myself intimidated by a TV pilot. If anything I’m usually a bit ambivalent when it comes to pilot episodes. More often than not I find that those behind the scenes are so anxious to sell the viewers the promise of an entire series in that very first episode that they cram writing, characters and plot down the viewers throat while forsaking real storytelling. Usually the normal voice and pacing of a program doesn’t settle in until about the third episode and in too many cases what they deliver is different than what was established in the pilot. Why do you think most critics are completely skeptical of seemingly strong pilots? They’re always waiting to see what the creative team can do when they have weeks to work on a an episode as opposed to months and months of refinement. In most cases, subsequent episodes don’t deliver and as we know all too well, shows are thrown by the wayside before they’re given a chance to really development their identity.

Lena Headey, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLESSo what does all of this have to do with me being intimidated by TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES? Well, unlike most TV pilots where the stories and characters are all brand new to me, their is a legion of lore behind the TERMINATOR series, and one that I was not very familiar with. I’ve seen T2…in passing. I remember Arnold in the leather jacket, the sunglasses…’Hasta La Vista, Baby’. I remember a buff Linda Hamilton running around in that white tank top trying to save Edward Furlong, but I can’t really say I knew why she was running or what Arnold was really up to. The Terminator trilogy of movies never really interested me all that much…just not my type of film. Despite my naivete of the film series, I do understand the pop cultural impact and the subsequent die hard fans who are intimately familiar with its legend. But how was I going to watch a TV show where the plots and characters were already so well known to so many? How was I going to figure out what was going on when unlike so many other TV show pilots, the writers didn’t really need to waste time explaining the plight of the characters…people already knew who they were and what they were all about. I was intimidated.

But I realized a few things into the pilot of TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: (1) you need to have zero knowledge of the TERMINATOR trilogy in order to understand and enjoy this pilot; (2) you don’t have to be a guy who is really into SciFi and or things blowing up because there’s also a solid story being told; (3) Lena Headey and Summer Glau kick serious ass.

From the action packed opening sequence to the foretelling last scene, I was completely enthralled by the pilot of T: SCC. I was actually really stoked about it, and perhaps that’s because my expectations were that this wasn’t going to be a show for me, but I think it had more to do with a pilot that really delivered.

Thomas Dekker as John Connor in TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLESFor those of you who don’t have much of an idea of what the show is about, I’ll sum it up quickly and probably inadequately. In 2027 futuristic robots are set take over and destroy the world, but a rebel force led by John Connor (Thomas Dekker) stops them and saves humanity. But that’s 2027, and it’s only 1999 and a 15 year old John Connor is just trying to get through Sophomore year of High School. He’s got all the same problems of a normal HS kid – girls, grades, and overprotective mother…and robots who have come back from the future to try to kill him in order to obtain world domination. Just your normal adolescent issues. John Connor has been astutely aware of his foretold destiny since birth, and as much as he resists who he is to become he understands the constant danger he is living in. His mother, Sarah (Lena Headey) , is also aware of the perils of her son’s life and has dedicated her very existence to protecting him at all costs. Sarah’s quick thinking and warranted paranoia has kept John alive for 15 years but increasing pressure from the future has them fighting harder than ever to stay not only under the radar but alive.

If all that weren’t enough, Sarah and John are also being hotly pursued by a human form, namely James Ellison (Richard T. Jones), an FBI agent who has been tracking Sarah Connor – a woman he only knows as a deranged fugitive who killed a man she claims created the robots that in the future want to kill her son.

Summer Glau stars as Cameron, a classmate of John’s who quickly becomes more than the the pretty girl in school when a Terminator model from the future (Owain Yeoman) shows up as a substitute teacher hellbent on teaching John an important lesson.


I’m not one to laud special effects or convincing fight sequences, but they are so essential to the escapism of this show that I have to say that I was really impressed. More than impressed…more like caught up and enraptured by it all. Similar to the pilot of LOST, this premiere episode felt more feature film quality than a Fox TV pilot. The show relies more on action than script, but it doesn’t skimp on the storytelling – which is essential in maintaining a series of this caliber.

Don’t expect a watered down version of the TERMINATOR movie series. The creative team took great care in executing TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES to be a stand alone entity that can compete with the legend and lore of the trilogy without compromise. Now if they only thought to do something about the ridiculously long show title.

Oh and if you’re wondering if the dreaded second episode, the one that comes after the meticulous pilot…no need to worry, it maintains the promise of the pilot quite well and succeeds on its own in establishing the storyline and character progression that should set the pace for the series.

So in case you haven’t guessed, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES has just earned itself a coveted season pass on my TiVo. But really in the end it all comes down to what YOU think of the series. So make sure you go ahead and set your DVRs now for the two night premiere on Sunday, January 13th @ 8pm and Monday, January 14th @ 9pm on FOX. And if you want a sneak peek, watch the pilot TODAY (and today only – until 9pm PST/12am EST) exclusively on Yahoo TV.

Expect to hear a lot more about T: SCC including my day spent on the set of the show and all the news from the premiere party that I’ll be attending next week in L.A..



  1. GMMR Spotlight: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES — All This Nonsense on January 5th, 2008 12:57 pm

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  2. Liz on January 5th, 2008 10:51 pm

    We’re in the same boat as far as not understanding Terminator lore. I just saw the first one in its entirety a few weeks ago, and the shifty time travel logic made me angry. I watched the first 20 minutes or so of the pilot online – not by choice, the boyfriend had it on – and I thought the acting and writing were startlingly bad. I love Summer Glau, but she’s the only thing that comes close to saving it. Also, according to the bf, having Terminator-related events between movies 2 and 3 specifically goes against things that are said in 3. But c’est la vie, and more importantly, c’est la cash-in.

  3. Brian on January 6th, 2008 12:03 am

    I’m glad I blogged my review before reading yours because I could have cribbed it word-for-word. I loved it. I’m a little confused about the scheduling, though I understand there’s only a handful of episodes before the March 3 two-hour finale. I’ll be DVR’ing whatever they put out, though.

    And Summer Glau: so hot!

  4. Billiam on January 6th, 2008 2:01 pm

    All right, new good TV for the new year.
    I’m a casual fan of the movies. The first one is meh (feels pretty dated), the second one is quite good, and the third one is fun (more of a popcorn flick, but enjoyable). And I realize this somewhat contradicts the events of the third movie, but I can’t say I really care.
    And Summer Glau is great.

  5. Lorakeet on January 7th, 2008 12:50 pm

    I liked the pilot except for remarkably poor aim of the robots and the chair that blocked the bullets shot at Sarah Connor. If I can just get past those glaring problems, I’ll definitely enjoy the show. Summer Glau is great although she’s still acting like River Tam.

  6. Brian on January 7th, 2008 11:00 pm

    Lorakeet – I thought the same things about the bad aim and the chair. It was easy to miss but when Ellison comes into the house after that fight and shootout, the first thing he mentions is that there was kevlar in the chair. It makes sense since the character of Sarah is supposed to be hyper-paranoid and would do something as crazy as line an easy chair with kevlar.

  7. Get Those TVs Turned On - What to Watch…January 13, 2009 » Give Me My Remote on January 13th, 2008 7:16 pm

    […] Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles | 8pm on Fox Debut: The sci-fi drama, based on the “Terminator” movies, follows a fugitive mother and son on the run from cyborgs sent from the future. First up: Sarah (Lena Headey) and John (Thomas Dekker) pack up and move to a new town. Note: Stay tuned to GMMR this week as I’ll have much more on this new show including interviews with the stars and video from inside last week’s premiere party. Check out my two cents on the pilot – GMMR Spotlight: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES […]

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