Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
Fox || NR - 975 minutes - $79.98 || September 22, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-10-08


Buy this DVD from Amazon.com!
.:: 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

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

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


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Select Episode Commentaries
  • 11 Featurettes
  • Interactive Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!


.::THE FILM::.

Note: This review contains spoilers.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” opens its second season answering the season one cliffhanger when Cameron (Summer Glau) gets into the jeep which explodes seconds later. Well, in the season premiere, Cameron survives but her programming has been reverted and her initial mission — to kill John Connor (Thomas Dekker) — is active. Of course, we all know what happens but it did make for an interesting premiere, though a good part of it for me was the introduction to the season’s, well, kind of nemesis, not really sure what to call her. Catherine Weaver (Shirley Manson of the rock band “Garbage”) has a plan which includes building an A.I. system but for what purpose is unknown until the finale.

I’m not going to rehash the entire season because I’m unsure what exactly I just sat through hours upon hours and witnessed. With a show like this, you know you’re going to have Terminators coming after John or momma Sarah Connor (Lena Headey); Uncle Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) or some other person friendly to John questioning his closeness with Cameron; plus Sarah and the rest of the crew trying to stop Skynet while Terminators from the future are sent to stop their progress and take out those who could... or something like that. That part of this entire franchise never made a whole lot of sense and given the number of Terminators that come and fail, I wonder why the machines even bother. Perhaps a different strategy would be in order.

In any case, although I’ve enjoyed watching “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” – mainly on home DVD/Blu-ray –, I wasn’t too enthralled with the storylines, but the characters made up for some of it, and of course Summer Glau and Lena Headey aren’t too bad to look at either. At the same time, this second season didn’t really have a well defined villain. Sure, Shirley Manson looks good as sort of a villainess character but her end goal never was that clear and despite nice screen presence by Richard T. Jones as former FBI agent James Ellison, I never got a sense for where the season was going. Yeah, I know Sarah is out to bring down Skynet but it never built up any sort of steam or presented interesting side stories.

One such side story concerned Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin), a romantic interest to love struck John Connor that isn’t all that it appears as she was sent in by Jesse Flores (Stephanie Jacobson), who came from the future and has a relationship with Derek. I guess on paper this might’ve been a good idea but for me it got tedious though ended nicely enough to give some character depth for John.

My other problem, and this isn’t the fault of the writers’ per se (even if they should’ve known the series would be cancelled), but the series finale ends with a cliffhanger that made little sense. For fans of the movie franchise and original Terminator movie, there are a few cool moments but the end will make any casual fan (like myself) go “wtf” more than anything else.

Overall, I felt this second season had some entertaining moments but its season arch felt like a mess rather than a cohesive storyline. I think maybe with new writers and a new direction the third season could’ve produced a show with more purpose but it would’ve had a steep hill to climb.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All features are presented in 1080i high-definition. Most feature descriptions come from the menu on the Blu-ray with comments about it afterwards.

Terminated Scenes (10:18) – There are several (12 to be exact) additional or deleted scenes that were most likely excised for time constraints.

Select Episode Commentaries – The set includes four commentaries with the cast and crew on the following episodes: ‘Samson and Delilah’ with Creator/Executive Producer Josh Friedman, and Actors Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau and Shirley Manson; ‘Allison from Palmdale’ with Exec Producers Friedman, James Middleton and John Wirth, and Actors Dekker and Glau; ‘Adam Raised a Cain’ and ‘Born to Run’ with Exec Producers Friedman, James Middleton and John Wirth, and Actors Dekker and Glau.

— These tracks are all pretty good and I like the fact they tried to include as many participants as possible from both cast and crew. The tracks balance information with some fun comments about behind-the-scenes stories. Although Glau is featured on all of them, she is fairly quiet.

The Storyboard Process: Cameron Goes Bad (2:55) is a short featurette on the purposes of storyboarding and as an example uses the sequence from the season premiere where Cameron is crushed in between two trucks with a comparison between the storyboards and final scene.

Cameron vs. Rosie: Fight Rehearsal (5:27) – The raw fight rehearsal and choreography session between Summer Glau and a contortionist is interwoven with storyboards and interviews explaining this intricate battle sequence. It’s a good featurette that break down the scene and how the cast and crew went about it even before shooting. Pretty cool to watch the rehearsal footage, actually.

Collision with the Future: Deconstructing the HUNTER KILLER Attack – Interactive exploration of the climatic season two finale of the Hunter Killer attack. Four simultaneous points of view show all elements of the filmmaking of The Sarah Connor Chronicles from Production, Direction, Visual Effects, and Special Effects. Additional focus points allow you to explore even more elements of what it took to create this dramatic stunt sequence. This is a cool feature but I would’ve preferred one long featurette/documentary about how the sequence was shot as when you move from one window to another, you miss something different. But overall, it is an interesting feature that will give you different perspective every time. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Continuing Chronicles: Terminator (total: 75:50) includes a whopping 8 featurettes. Each of them gives insight into various aspects of making season two and how they went about it. These are all great featurettes that gives you a look at the various behind-the-scenes elements from pre-production through post-production.

Here is the breakdown:
Write the Future (12:39) – An inside look at Creator Josh Friedman and the writing process and how it guides the creative decisions for each episode.

Conceptualization (8:18) – Visual Effects Supervisor James Lima and others discuss the production challenges of bringing the sci-fi world of Terminator to television.

Blood and Metal (7:39) – Go behind the scenes with Special Makeup Effects Artist Rob Hall and the cast as they reveal the process of creating realistic cybernetic organisms.

Designing Destruction (7:32) – Production Designer Marek Dobrowolski and others discuss the challenges of combining real locations with futuristic sets to create a world in which the present fights to avoid a horrific future.

Choreographing Chaos (7:21) – See how Stunt Coordinator, 2nd Unit Director Joel Kramer and Special Effects Supervisor Steve Galich work closely to create the stunts and on-set effects that add an undeniably kinetic quality to each episode.

War Stories (9:15) – From an unexpected earthquake on the jam-packed Santa Monica pier to the intricacies of filming underwater sequences, the producers and cast reflect on some of the most memorable production challenges from season two.

Setting Tempo (13:15) – Composer Bear McCreary and the producers explain the process of taking cues from the Terminator mythology and incorporating them into the score. Bear, Josh Friedman and Actress-Performer Shirley Manson also talk about the process of recording the season opening song “Samson and Delilah”.

Motivations (9:51) – The producers and cast discuss the themes of season 2 and how these informed both the writing and acting.

Lastly is a funny but standard gag reel (6:04).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is presented in 1080p high definition and its original 1.78 aspect ratio. The picture looks nice and probably on par with Fox’s HD channel presentation but it also was a tad soft for my taste. Most of it is clean, clear and detailed (with colors being just right) but I just wasn’t wowed by it.

Even though Warner only provides this TV on Blu-ray release with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, it’s honestly not that bad. Yes, a lossless, TrueHD track would be preferred but at the same time the various elements sounded good throughout the season from the music score to the dialogue and action sequences.



.::OVERALL::.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” The Complete Second Season, while not as great as I hoped or expected, but I still enjoyed portions of it and some interesting character dynamics. The Blu-ray release is excellent even with a disappointing HD video but it makes up for it with a 5 star special features treatment.