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

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Science Fiction
Warner Brothers || NR - 394 minutes - $29.98 || August 19, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-08-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd (characters); Josh Friedman (developed by)
Cast: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, Richard T. Jones


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Select Episode Cast and Crew Commentary
  • Creating the Chronicles
  • Cast Audition Tapes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Cut of Episode 7
  • Summer Glau Dance Rehearsal
  • Storyboard Animatic
  • Gag Reel


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Surround Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Next to Star Wars and probably Star Trek, Terminator has to be one of the most enduring franchises in the entertainment business. In 1984, The Terminator presented a unique vision of the future; Terminator 2: Judgment Day has become one of the best movies of all time, easily surpassing the original and took visual effects to another level; then 11 years later came Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines... Um, yeah, moving on. Finally there is another movie coming in 2009 called Terminator Salvation starring The Dark Knight’s Christian Bale. This doesn’t include the countless comic books and such. Now, the fight for the future has come to television in the form of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”.

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles” apparently takes place in the same timeline as The Terminator and Terminator 2, but circumvents T3. It begins with Sarah Connor’s trademark voice over as she explains how her son is the potential leader of rebel forces fighting machines trying to take over the world. The first couple episodes sets this world up as John (Dekker) and mom Sarah (Headey) are continually on the run, going from one place to another leaving everything and anyone behind as the machines continue to hunt John down. After ditching her fiancée, Sarah relocates to New Mexico where, at his new school, John meets his new protector sent from the future: Cameron (Glau).

With Cameron’s help, the Connors set out to find out how SkyNet was able to rebuild where it will become the central piece to the machine’s victory in the future (the SkyNet creator, Dixon, was killed in Terminator 2). But not only do they have FBI Agent James Ellison (Jones) on their trail but another cyborg on the hunt with the objective to kill John. They also meet a face from the future in Derek Reese (Green), brother of Kyle Reese, John’s father.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”, like “Smallville”, is another snip in the franchises timeline. Since I’m not well versed in that world since the last time I’ve even seen T2 was several years ago, I don’t have much invested in how accurate the series is in the mythos. I think it pays homage to James Cameron’s creation but creator Josh Friedman manages to put his own stamp on the Terminator universe.

As freshman series goes, “Terminator” is actually pretty good. It doesn’t follow the same formula from one episode to the next and actually fleshes these characters out quite nicely. Obviously when one thinks of Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton immediately springs to mind. But just like how the series maintains the Terminator storyline, Lena Headey’s portrayal of Sarah was perfect. As someone stated in one of the featurettes, the Linda Hamilton Sarah Connor would’ve been tough to watch every week, but Headey manages to give the character that spunk and toughness while still making her likeable and believable.

Thomas Dekker as John Connor certainly looks like the same character previously portrayed by Nick Stahl (even though I guess technically Terminator 3 took place in an alternate timeline) and even though I didn’t think Dekker was particularly fantastic as the future savior of the human race, I think he plays the part just right as a teenager just wanting a normal life.

Finally, the lovely Summer Glau takes on the part as John’s protector, Cameron. She was sent from the future and is a newer model able to emote more human features and has actually has the ability to eat like anyone else.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Select Episode Commentary – 3 episodes, ‘Pilot’, ‘The Turk’ and ‘When He Beheld’, get commentaries from the cast and crew. The Pilot episode features creator/executive producer Josh Friedman, consulting/executive producer James Middleton, episode director David Nutter and actress Summer Glau; The Turk has Friedman, writer John Wirth and actors Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker; and What He Beheld has Friedman, writer Ian Goldberg and actors Summer Glau and Brian Austin Green (Derek Reese). The tracks are actually fairly informative with Friedman explaining on how the series came to be or Summer Glau getting the part and working on her best Terminator movements.

Creating the Chronicles: 3-Part Look at the Series’ Production Process
- Re-Boot (16:40): Features interviews with various members of the cast and crew as they talk about brining something as iconic as The Terminator onto television. They wanted to keep with the stories James Cameron brought but still making the series their own.
- Future War (10:23): Takes a look at the episode ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ in which Derek’s consciousness goes from the present to the future. It goes into how the future scenes were shot, using VFX and creating an apocalyptic L.A. skyline.
- The Demon Hand (11:53): More behind-the-scenes footage and interviews talking about the episode ‘The Demon Hand’ and the focus of that story as the idea of robots becoming more like humans is studied.

Terminated Scenes: Unaired Scenes (20:09) – There are 9 scenes total, 5 from the Pilot Episode. Most of these are fairly mundane but one I kind of enjoyed was the entire interview between Sarah Connor and Dr. Silberman (Bruce Davison) that was only briefly featured in the episode. Interestingly, some scenes are presented in anamorphic widescreen while one was full frame...

And for an original special feature, we also get the Extended Cut for episode 7, ‘The Demon Hand’. It features more footage surrounding Sarah’s past and is about 8-minutes longer than the telecast version. I hope extended episodes will be on future TV on DVD releases because there’s so much that can be done where broadcast versions are limited.

The set also includes audition tapes (11:16) for Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker and Richard T. Jones; a storyboard animatic (3:25) of the classroom scene in the pilot episode; Summer Glau Dance Rehearsal (1:40), which is absolutely mesmerizing to watch; and a gag reel (3:35).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is presented in anamorphic widescreen. Having only watched a couple episodes during the season, it seems the HD broadcast and this DVD is fairly on par with one another. The picture itself looks smooth and dirt/scratch free and colors seem to be about right.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 track offers up a solid score with the occasional action sequence very nicely. For each episode, I was especially looking forward to the title card where you hear a couple beats of the famous Terminator theme. Warner also provides a Portuguese Surround Stereo as well.



.::OVERALL::.

Even though “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” isn’t the perfect series, there is plenty of potential here to make it an enduring series. Summer Glau is great as John Connor’s protector and Lena Headey is well cast as the tough Sarah Connor. Warner Brothers has put together a fine first season DVD set with expansive features and a small footprint for those with limited space.