So I was cleaning out my DVR last night (when the hard drive gets above 70 or 75 percent capacity, it tends to slow down and maybe even pixellate new recordings) and realized that, while I had watched both the latest "Torchwood" and the "Sarah Connor Chronicles" finale, I never got around to blogging about either one. So brief, belated spoilers for the two skiffy shows in the current rotation coming up just as soon as I finish my homework...
I'd been looking forward to Martha Jones showing up on "Torchwood" for a while now, and her first episode didn't disappoint. I thought Freema Agyeman really grew into the role during her first season on "Doctor Who" -- especially from "Human Nature" on -- and it was nice to see her in a capacity where she got to be 100% awesome instead of her usual 70% awesome, 30% crushing on David Tennant. She was confident, funny, sexy (and her flirtiness brought out the vintage Captain Jack that hasn't been on display as much this season as I would like), and she fit in well with the crew, particularly the doomed Owen.
I wasn't spoiled on Owen's death -- and I have no idea if they're going to use some alien tech in an upcoming episode to bring him back, so please no spoilers for people following the slightly-advanced British schedule -- and was therefore shocked to see him take a bullet from the ubiquitous Alan Dale. A very creepy, scary episode and another sign that team "Torchwood" seriously got their act together for season two.
Speaking of improving as they go, I thought "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" got quite a bit better after the first few boring episodes. Specifically, the introduction of Brian Austin Green, of all people, signaled the moment when I began to think this show might have more legs than I initially thought. For whatever reason -- my guess is a network note about making the main character more relatable -- the producers decided to soften Sarah from the homicidal nutcase she was in "Terminator 2," and so they wound up giving all of movie Sarah's most extreme, memorable qualities to Derek Reese, and the former David Silver somehow pulled it off. I bought him as a hair-trigger commando from the future, and he gave the show an unpredictable quality that it didn't have with the original troika.
The finale also featured one of the great "do more with less" moments I've seen lately. With the weekly budget obviously much lower than for the pilot, there was no way to actually show Cromartie massacring the FBI tactical team, and so they shot virtually all of it from the point of view of the bodies falling, one by one, into the pool far away from Cromartie's hotel room. It helped that they scored the whole thing to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" -- any scene feels more epic when it's accompanied by a number from one of Johnny's America albums (see also the opening of the most recent season of "The Shield," where Johnny's "I Hung My Head" kicks an already powerful opening sequence into something magnificent), and the song itself is about Judgment Day.
Still, despite the improvements, I'm still not sure if there's a long creative life in this concept. (That's assuming Fox even renews it, considering how much the ratings slipped from that big debut audience, and the fact that the network has committed big money for next season to sci-fi shows from Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams.) It's a Gilligan or Fugitive premise, where the characters can only come so close to accomplishing their goal before the end of the series. And unlike "Lost," where getting off the island was also the chief goal, there aren't enough interesting detours along the way to get in the way of that. Either they're going to get their hands on the Turk and then realize that it's not the start of SkyNet, or they're going to spend seasons chasing the Turk as it continually changes hands; either way, I expect it to get old.
But, like a few other shows this season ("Journeyman" and "Life," to name two), "Sarah Connor Chronicles" turned out to be more entertaining than I at first thought it was capable of being. I won't exactly miss it if Fox doesn't renew it, but I don't regret sticking with it to the end of this season.
What did everybody else think?