Preview: Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Sarah Connor

In the US: Airs in early 2008, Sundays, 9pm Eastern on Fox
In the UK: Acquired by Virgin 1 (or whatever it’s going to be called)

You know, I never thought I’d be hankering after the acting prowess of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong. But there’s got to be a first time for everything, right?

The Sarah Connor Chronicles, while not exactly a bad show, constantly reminds you that this has all be done before and a whole lot better.

It’s 1999, two years after the events in Terminator 2 (Terminator 3 probably isn’t going to happen any more by the looks of it). Sarah Connor’s settled down to a relatively normal life. She’s getting married, her son John’s in school. Everything’s peachy.

Then oops, she has to go on the run again. Before you know it, she’s been chased by a bad Terminator again, helped by a good Terminator again and John’s whining about how he can’t possibly be a great military leader.

The usual then. But then, there’s a twist…

Is it any good?
For the first half, the pilot is pretty much a retread and reminder of everything that’s gone before. It is at least pretty faithful to the movies in terms of mythology, what’s achievable, the principles of time travel, etc. But there’s nothing really new beyond the addition of an FBI agent hunting the Connors, is even more derivative than Terminator 3 and despite the benefit of today’s CGI, everything feels a bit clunky and looks a bit cheap.

At the very least, you’ll want to terminate whoever wrote the pretentious voice-over at the beginning, and you’ll be wondering why supposedly lightning fast and scary robots are such rubbish shots and have reaction speeds that operate in the minutes rather than seconds.

Good Terminator and bad Terminator alike (I won’t tell you which one is Summer Glau from Firefly) are pretty poorly acted, without even the slightest hint of presence or character. You can put this down to the actors having to play robots or you can attribute it to something else – either way, you’ll want Arnie and the wonderful Robert Patrick back on the scene within the first minute of the show.

British actress Lena Headey, who replaces Linda Hamilton, is similarly unimpressive and unlike Hamilton, appears to have buffed down for the role – she disappears when she turns sideways. And Thomas Dekker, last seen definitely not being gay on Heroes, may be playing John Connor a couple of years older, but the character doesn’t appear to have matured at all in the interim so all he does is whine.

However, and this is a big however, there is a rather clever twist towards the end that I won’t ruin for you, that changes the whole show. Since the producers have assured us that it won’t be a “Terminator of the week” show, the twist makes it a whole lot more promising as a series than it looks at first. All the same, without something other than plot, guns, explosions and the Terminator name scrawled all over it, there’s not a lot to draw in the viewer. Fingers crossed for some character development and improved acting, hey?

Here’s a YouTube trailer for you

Lena Headey (Sarah Connor)
Thomas Dekker (John Connor)
Summer Glau (Cameron Phillips)
Richard T Jones (James Ellison)


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.