Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season (2008) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Science Fiction
Warner Brothers || NR - 392 minutes - $39.99 || August 19, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-08-07


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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 (creator)
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)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Taking place after Terminator 2 -- Terminator 3 apparently takes place in an alternate timeline so disregard everything about that film that you know --, Sarah Connor (Lena Heady) is on the run with her son, John Connor (Thomas Dekker), who will one day be the eventual savior of the human race. After settling down in a quaint little town, John soon makes friends with a girl from school named Cameron (Summer Glau) - who we quickly find out is a Terminator sent back to the past from future John to help protect him from the rising amount of evil Terminator's sent to kill him.

The First Season is comprised of nine episodes (forced to cut down from thirteen due to the writers’ strike) and brings a very stylized look to the Terminator universe. Instead of doing the typical "baddie of the week", each episode flows perfectly into the next and we are not subjected to a new Terminator baddie each week that they must destroy. That's not to say that there are not other villains - because we are lead to believe there are numerous ones sent back searching for John Connor but only Cromartie (Garrett Dillahunt) is the main big bad of the season.

The show does so many things right it’s easy to overlook the things they do wrong. While I enjoyed both Terminator and Terminator 2 (Terminator 3 was OK), we were never really led to believe that Arnold had much personality or could mimic a human. In the show, Cameron plays a pitch-perfect robot that has to not only pretend be a normal human, but also a member of the Connor Family.

From the numerous robot-impersonates-a-human shows I have watched (yes, even the cult-hit “Small Wonder”) they never really seemed that believable. Constantly they would have that robot monotone voice and would walk in a way where we as a viewer knew they were a robot and other characters on the show not in the loop would simply think they were weird. Here, we get Cameron who could not only pass perfectly as a human, but in a split second show her true robot form.

I could not see anyone playing the role of Cameron other than Summer Glau. She borrows a lot of characteristics from her most well known role as River from “Firefly” that she fits in the show perfectly. To go from someone literally kicking ass one second to a normal teenager that gets asked out to prom the next is simply amazing to watch. As the season progresses we are lead to believe she becomes more and more human-like (listening to Summer call everything "tight" is pretty funny) as she begins to keep secrets from the family as well as lie... for still unknown reasons. Is she good or evil? Hopefully Season Two will help flesh out that aspect.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are presented in SD unless otherwise noted. Spread across all 3 discs is the following special features:

Commentary on 3 Key Episodes by Executive Producer Josh Friedman & Cast and Crew - Focusing on three episodes (Pilot, The Turk, What He Beheld) we good a good sense of the direction of the show as well as some tidbits about each episode. Not required listening, but very welcome additions.

Creating the Chronicles: 3 Parts (~39 Minutes, HD) - Here we get a look at the production and design of the show in general as well as a look at the making two different episodes.

Cast Audition Tapes (~10 Minutes) - An Uninteresting special feature that showcases off the audition tapes for Dekker, Jones and Heady.

Terminated (Deleted) Scenes - Spread across all 3 discs is a sampling of deleted scenes from most of the nine episode most of which were cut for time. Nothing that really pushes the story along though.

Extended Cut of Episode 7, The Demon Hand (~53 Minutes) - Probably one of the best special features present is an alternate take on The Demon Hand. This episode includes an additional 8 minutes of footage. We get to delve deeper into the past of Sarah Connor and everything you see brings a better focus of why Sarah is the way she is. This episode is presented completely in 2.1 Stereo and often has annoying 2 click-pops every minute or so. I'd recommend watching the broadcast version first and then this episode.

Summer Glau Dance Rehearsal (~2 Minutes) - Summer really got her big break from Joss Whedon when she appeared in the Season 3 episode of Angel entitled "Waiting in the Wings". She played a ballerina dancer who was forced to perform the same dance over and over. Seeing it get worked into Terminator was a great idea and this special feature is a great watch.

Also included is a Storyboard Animatic (~3 Minutes), Gag Reel (~3 Minutes) and a very nice shiny slip cover!



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 spread across three 50GB discs. Picture quality is much better than what was broadcast on Fox and bringing to series over to Blu-ray will truly make this show shine. I had the Season finale saved on my DVR and compared back and forth and found the Blu-ray to now only have a much better presentation, but colors were simply more vibrant and blacks darker. Aside from “Lost: Season 3” this could be one of the best TV on HDM presentations (picture quality wise) until of course “Pushing Daisies” arrives...

Warner has opted to include a standard English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and while I would have preferred a TrueHD, for this show its probably not needed that much. Even though the show is based off the explosive Terminator series, the first season is very dialog heavy and for the most part the only things you will hear out of your rear speakers is the occasional chirping of a bird or phone ringing.

Still, I can't help but think Warner took the cheap route here as all previous TV on HD DVD release (Smallville, Nip/Tuck) included Dolby Digital Plus tracks while the Blu-ray versions were subjected to standard Dolby Digital 5.1. With 50GB discs (3 episodes on each with a few bonus features) space issues would be no excuse to skimp out on TrueHD track.



.::OVERALL::.

Season One is an explosive start to what could be an amazing adaption of a series of films turning into a TV Show. With Picture and Audio quality better than broadcast, a huge sampling of special features and coming in at a price that turns into an impulse buy makes this 3-disc Blu-ray set a recommended purchase!