Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pilot Watch 2007: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Wrapping up my look at the Fox pilots with one of the season's more anticipated shows, albeit one that won't be airing until mid-season.

Repeat after me: This is not a review, just a first impression. I understand that many things can and will change between now and when the show actually airs.

"The Sarah Connor Chronicles"
Who's in it: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau
What it's about: Spin-off of the "Terminator" movies, picking up a few years after "Terminator 2," with Sarah and John Connor on the run, until the arrival of some more machines from the future convinces them to change their plan.
Pluses: Headey's very good, and while she doesn't live up to the intensity (not to mention the biceps) of Linda Hamilton in "T2," the character as written and performed in that movie wouldn't be sustainable for a series. This is a happy medium. "Firefly" fans will be very pleased with Glau's role in the story. Owain Yeoman, of all people (late of "Kitchen Confidential" and the never-seen "Commando Nanny," but also of "The Nine"), makes a more-than-passable old-school Terminator. Several exciting action sequences.
Minuses: Not sold on Dekker as the future messiah, even though the character spends much of the pilot complaining that he doesn't fit the part, either. The action's good but not superlative, and with very rare exceptions (essentially "Alias," "24" and "Lost"), series TV action tends to get worse, not better, as the production grind goes along. Doesn't necessarily feel like a long-term concept. The script relies a lot on people's memory of a 16-year-old movie (there's a lot of Miles Dyson talk), yet it monkeys enough with the continuity of the movies ("T3" essentially can't co-exist with this story) that the hardcore fanboys are going to complain.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You mention Commando Nanny but not The Nine?

Anonymous said...

So do you think my comparison to Dark Angel in the other thread is apt? I thought that was a great pilot, but the series was much more low budget and got pretty silly pretty quickly. I can easily see this show following a similar trajectory and premiering big, but not lasting more than a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

A Terminator installment that pretends the 3rd movie didnt exist? Sign me up.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You mention Commando Nanny but not The Nine?

I had forgotten that Yeoman was ever on The Nine, but point taken. So changed above.

So do you think my comparison to Dark Angel in the other thread is apt?

There are some similarities and some differences. Lena Headey already strikes me as a vastly stronger actress than Jessica Alba. On the other hand, the premise of Dark Angel was far more open-ended than what this pilot suggests. I hope they can make it work; I'm just not sure.

Dark Tyler said...

What anonymous #3 said. I hated the way the 3rd movie negated the entire meaning of the James Cameron ones, so I'm all for a series that negates the 3rd movie instead.

Although, if Kristanna Loken could get to somehow show up I'd be happy with the development. And maybe there could be a role for Michelle Rodriguez in there, too. (LOL)

Alan Sepinwall said...

What anonymous #3 said. I hated the way the 3rd movie negated the entire meaning of the James Cameron ones, so I'm all for a series that negates the 3rd movie instead.

If you're talking about the fact that Skynet is still going to exist in the future, then that's a major element of the series, too. Otherwise, it would be a show about Sarah making pancakes for John. (Though she does that at one point, too.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fienberg's take on all the Fox pilots, including "Sarah Connor." (And his complaint about Headey's guns makes me rethink that part of the non-review. Making Sarah less psycho is better for a long-term series, but I miss the striking physical presence that Linda Hamilton's gym rat body gave to "T2."

Dark Tyler said...

No, basically all I'm saying is that movies 1 & 2 are about how we create our own fate, while 3 was telling us how we are slaves to it.

I can accept both arguments if presented in an interesting way, but not when one replaces the other midway through just because it helps lazy writers create a plot.

Looks like I'm going to have to watch all three of them again, though, because plot-wise, I don't remember Jack.

Dan Coyle said...

Rise of the Machines had a logical idea in that Skynet rose because, sooner or later, no matter who was in charge, man would create that technology. That made sense to me. But there is something sad about the characters being slaves to fate and John Connor's destiny being sealed by the fact that he was in the right place at the right time.

As I said in the earlier thread, The Sarah Connor Chronicles clips I've seen bear massive similarities to the comic book series Marvel published about a decade ago. Particularly the subplot about Sarah going to Miles' wife and begging for help. I suppose that doesn't matter, but Dan Abnett and Mark Paniccia, who wrote that mini, should at least get some sort of acknowledgment.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I suppose that doesn't matter, but Dan Abnett and Mark Paniccia, who wrote that mini, should at least get some sort of acknowledgment.

This reminds me of a conversation I once had with Gerry Conway (who was writing for one of the Law & Order spin-offs at the time) about whether he was getting any kind of compensation or even kudos because so much of the first "Spider-Man" movie's climax was inspired by comics he wrote. He laughed and looked at me like I was the most naive child he had ever met.

Dark Tyler said...

Just watched it, and I have to say it was boring as hell. If David Nutter wasn't the director of this thing, there was now way I would have ever managed to watch all 45 minutes of it.

That and, as Fienberg says, after having sat through the whole pilot, I haven't got the faintest clue of what the show will be about. This being FOX, should I say... "Prison Break" with killer robots from the future? Yeah, that's probably gonna be it. Count me out.