Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Terminator: Might as well jump

I'm both kind of swamped and not feeling enthusiastic enough about the latest "Sarah Connor Chronicles" episode to blog on it, so I'll open it up to you to discuss. One thought from me: this is two episodes in a row now where I feel like someone at Fox gave the producers a memo saying, "Could we make Sarah a little less, you know, homicidal?" Talk amongst yourselves, and I'll try to weigh in with the comments when I have a chance later in the day.


Anonymous said...

So instead they made that girl suicidal? And can someone please explain that storyline to me? I completely didn't understand what the paintings were supposed to be. And will that storyline serve a point other than showing that John wanted to play hero?

Matt said...

Yeah, whoever had the idea of abruptly turning what was a comic relief plotline in the "robotic Cameron can't figure out how to relate, but learns teenage slang" genre into "girl kills herself" needs a firm talking-too. (And until it took the tragic/dramatic turn, I thought it was actually a pretty effective comic relief plotline, courtesy largely of Glau's great deadpan delivery.

Also, how expensive is this show? While you don't have a big cast, and there wasn't much complex action/explosions this week, unlike in the pilot, but the multiple Terminator endoskeletons kicking around can't be cheap.

And shut up, Sarah Connor voiceover.

K J Gillenwater said...

I'm guessing that the suicide was supposed to show the inner John Connor and how he *could* be a leader in the future.

I was wondering why he was the only person who seemed concerned that a girl was about to commit suicide...and I thought it *was* going to be some cheesy rescue thing. But when the terminator girl wouldn't let him help and he got visibly upset, I thought that was a good scene to show this kid's inner character.

**By the way, I don't think they needed to show us where the paintings were going. It obviously was some sex thing that the girl was ashamed of...in fact, I was kind of relieved they left it mysterious. You could imagine your own story to fill in the blanks.**

Loved the stuff with the skinless terminator. I think it is cool that they are starting to show up how the process works...how the skin gets on the robot. And then more of that next week so he looks a little less mutant.

I still like this show. It's interesting. It's different. And it does have some pretty good writing.

Anyone else wondering about the 4-year-old's fingerprints? Was that girl terminator? Or did that have something to do with the fake IDs they got?

Tony said...

The 4-year olds fingerprints were there because the people living in that building were from the future. Since you pretty much have the same fingerprints when you're a kid and when you're an adult, the prints they found matched a kid.

K J Gillenwater said...

Tony, thanks for explaining that one! Duh!

Anonymous said...

I believe everything the writers of this show wants me to believe. The time travel. The terminator who acted like a normal girl in the first episode but reverted to Vicki the robot from Small Wonder ever since then. The terminator head that was able to time travel etc. But what I cannot believe, or condone for that matter, is that John Conner, in all his teenage hormonal rage wouldn't order that Terminator to terminate his virginity. I'm not buying it. Love your site by the way Alan!

Michael said...

I'm glad they shot down (for now) any potential roboroticism by making the terminator pretend to be his kid sister and not his girlfriend.

As for the issue of Sarah Connor's willingness to kill, but her whole project of hunting down individual computer scientists and torching their pet projects seems kind of pointless. Firstly, if just any old AI could become skynet and lead to the same apocalypse regardless of its origin, then we're pretty much screwed. If, on the other hand, it really will be one particular project that matters, then she needs way more evidence. And why can she not tell people? If she needs to prove to them that she's not crazy, she's got this terminator she can show them.

Anonymous said...

I thought they had the opportunity to do something pretty creative with the scientist creating the fake skin for the terminator. I thought they would do that cyclical timeline thing where the robot comes back to teach him how to make the stuff, so he can invent and make it for the terminators in the future. The future causes the past. Would have been great and very in keeping with the films.

But no. The formula is wiped away on the wall and the scientist is murdered for his eyes. But, since this scinetist was clearly one of the inventors of the fake skin in the original timeline (hence the machine knowing to come to him to create it) and he has been killed before anyone knows he created it, would this not change things in the future? Or his tape recorder going to be what continues his legacy?

And Sarah needs to step it WAY the hell up. Sarah Connor is not supposed to be an undercover MILF. Kick a little ass or go away.

And doesn't their discovery that the man in the apartment has the same fingerprints as a child in Ohio negate fingerprints as evidence? I realize that they are the same people, but unless a judge will buy a Time Travel defense, fingerprints have just gone out the window. Unless of course they check it out and discover the boy and the corpse have the same DNA. Then it negates DNA evidence, too. Maybe OJ DIDN'T do it!

Anonymous said...

The terminator who acted like a normal girl in the first episode but reverted to Vicki the robot from Small Wonder ever since then.

LOL! Seriously, AlexFromPhilly, that's exactly what I was thinking during almost all Glau's scenes at the high school "What's with the Vicki impersonation you were the flirty hot cowgirl in the first ep?!?!?"

K J Gillenwater said...

Andrew, I don't quite get your complaint. You would rather have a cyclical thing with the skin stuff...as in, the idea really came from nowhere? Rather than have it make more sense?

My thought is this: the guy was convinced it wouldn't work. He had tried and failed. He was not the one that ultimately invented it. Just someone the terminator could use. The guy had the skills to pull it off, but was expendable. The terminator could not risk having anyone know that he was around & alive. He is tracking John and needs to stay on the down low, right?

So, wouldn't it make more sense to pick someone who was a failed researcher? Who would be more than happy to have success on a formula he never could have figured out on his own?

Also, the skin technology was not necessarily created by a human being...and made it never would be. In the first Terminator movie, Kyle Reese said that the machines figured out a way to make the Terminator appear like humans. Not that they used a human-created technology.

Oh, and I want to get back to the head flying through the time portal. Was there ever any explanation in T2 why the liquid metal guy could travel through time without actual skin? He was metal. ALL metal. A new kind of metal, yes, but he did not have skin over him. Is there any way HE could have traveled back in time? Or the T3 chick? How did they manage to also break this cardinal rule?

Myles said...

What sustained last week's episode was the great dynamic between Sarah and Cameron - it was a buddy team worth watching, and presented intriguing moral and physical challenges.

Instead, here we get John and Cameron. He's too cynical about her for it to really click, and their entire storyline seemed like a lot of effort to get to the point where we see John is a hero in waiting, as others have discussed.

My larger concern is that they so clearly domesticized Sarah - I don't mean in comparison to the films, but even compared to last week. Her flirty, chemistry-free dates with Adam were wholly uninteresting, and it felt like the science was never adequately explained (Or, if it was, I totally missed it).

Just a miss of an episode, really.

Anonymous said...

Kristin, it wasn't so much a complaint as it was dissapointment for a lost opportunity for some interesting plotting. One of the best moments of the original Terminator is when you realize that events in the future cause the past, which in turn create that future. If Kyle Reese hadn't been sent back to save Sarah, he never would have been the father of John, who wouldn't have existed to send him back etc.

I don't buy that he was some random failed scientist that just happened to be working on synthetic skin, but even if he was, wouldn't it have created a more interesting dynamic if the robot coming back was what caused the creation of the skin that allowed Terminators to be what they are and travel back in time? The future would have caused the past, which would have created that future.

Just like the peices of the original terminator allowed Cyberdyne to create Skynet, this Terminator would have allowed the scientist to invent the skin. I am still hoping the guy's tape recorder becomes a part of the story.

Also: I think the guy went along with the terminator in creating the skin because it was his goal anyways. The machine figured out what he was doing wrong. As he said, "The practical applications are endless." He didn't know he was helping a killing machine until near the end, and by then he was too close to somthing that could have really helped people to just stop.

pgillan said...

Kristin, I always just assumed that the robot from T2 was able to mimic the actual chemical composition of the the material he transformed into; that his "skin" was, for all intents and purposes, actual skin, and his "clothes" were actual fabric (which is why he came back naked, if I recall correctly). They never really showed any other materials, but figured this would have been true for rock, wood, or even vegetable oil, if that were necessary for some reason.

Anonymous said...

The one part I found really unbelievable? That a cell-phone salesman could afford such a nice house in Southern California.

Anonymous said...

My problem with the Terminator universe in general is that, by making time travel a trivial matter that multiple people and machines can do routinely, there is never any permanence to action or consequences that matter. Fail to stop Skynet in 2007? No problem, you can always have John circa 2021 try again in 2006, or 2005, or 1843, or 200BC, by sending through yet another reprogrammed cyborg or resistance fighter to stamp out Skynet creators (or their great, great, great grandparents). That is always the problem with time travel stories. Having virtually infinite chances to 'right' the future means the present hardly matters. And now that they can jump forward in time as well makes this problem even worse, and trivializes what we are watching week to week.

Putting that aside, is this series going to boil down to "Task of the Week", and if so, is it going to be at the trite level displayed in this episode? I would hope not. But I just don't see how you can stretch this story out over 22+ hours a season.

Obviously they will explore the whole "what does it mean to be human" by Cameron's little journey through humanity, and John and Sarah's growing fondness of her, but even that can't be interesting for more than a season or so.

I can't tell if it's the writers' strike or not, but so far I'm willing to stay with it, as many plot holes and inconsistencies it has displayed aside.

Unknown said...

At least in T1, Reese says that after sending him after Arnold, John Connor destroyed the time machine (although he wouldn't know that for a fact, since Reese had already left). With T2, you can fudge and say that since Skynet sent two, John Connor sent two.

But then after that, in the desire to make even more sequels and a TV series, that restraint is thrown out the window.

And yes, one might surmise that when mimicking a naked human, the advanced terminators mimic the "field" of a living organism that allows them to time travel. Which is why they travel naked in the first place; in addition to misdirecting the audience in T2 and having an excuse to show a nude Kristanna Loken in T3.

Anonymous said...

Is "Cameron" channeling John from Cincinatti, or is it just me?

Anonymous said...

As much as I love River -er- Summer Glau and wanted to love this show, I just can't get past how bad the Sarah Conners character is coming off here. Such a wimpy, milktoast, MILF that Linda Hamilton's Sarah would have squashed without trying.

Her reactions to keeping her son safe actually come off more like a creepy obsession than motherly love. Where the original Sarah would have plowed through with guns blazing, this Sarah seems more the type to turn tail and run.

In the words of Randy Jackson, "I'm not feelin' it dawg".

I'll give this maybe one or two more chances, but if this character doesn't improve, I'm out, Summer Glau or not.

On a side note, Alan, can you tell us if Summer will be returning at all to the next season of The 4400, or is she off that one completely now?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 9:35 a.m., "The 4400" was, unfortunately, canceled.

If it wasn't for Garrett Dillahunt showing up next week, I would ditch this hot mess of a show. I don't buy wispy Lena Heady as Sarah for one second and her voiceover narration is wretched. I can buy Summer Glau as a kick-ass warrior because I've seen "Firefly" and because she's playing a machine here, but Heady ain't cuttin' it.

Plus, like "Reaper," this show is already settling into a formula. Unlike "Reaper," though, this formula isn't as much fun and is in danger of becoming boring (IMHO; I know others find "Reaper" boringly formulaic). I hope they change things up in the next ep.

As for the time travel matters: They make my head hurt %^)

Anonymous said...

sarah sucks in this show because 75% of the time she looks like michael jackson.

that, and that stupid painting stuff, seriously what was that about?

my only complaints with the show, other than those things I get to watch terminator once a week. i'm probably the exact kind of sucker they were looking for when they made this.

i'm sticking with this until the end.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't get all the love for Glau. I think if you had the same actress, same performance, et cetera, and she had never been in Firefly, everyone would be talking about how boring and derivative her performance is. However, she appears to get an immense benefit of the doubt for having been in a failed Whedon series. Headey also has problems as has been mentioned and is really a different character than the Sarah Connor from the films. Can anyone imagine the Sarah from T2 going out on a date to get information? She would have just killed the guy at the cell mart and that would have been it.

This, I think, is the problem with making the show about Sarah and not the future resistance. As some have mentioned, it's going to become boring task of the week and any time the show writes itself into a corner it will simply be righted again with a time travel fix. Yawn. They should have made this show about John in the future.

And why is Skynet so stupid that they keep sending Terminators back into the 1990s and 2000s? Really, couldn't they just kill Grandma Connor in 1965 or Great Great Grandpa Connor in 1908 or something? Wouldn't that be easier?

Charles said...

Well, here's an (unmade) reason why Skynet couldn't just go back to 1920 and kill Sarah's grandmother - for all we know, Sarah has been at some point integral to the creation of Skynet (presumably some time before the 80s when the first terminator was sent back to kill her). Neither the movies nor the show have given this as an explanation, but it's the only reason I can think of (in a 'makes-the-story-work' sense and not a 'it's-cheaper-to-not-shoot-period-movies-and-shows sense) as to why they wouldn't just send one back to the early 1900s or even earlier when there wouldn't have been any significant resistance.

Anonymous said...

God, some of you people pontificating are so fucking ignorant about the actual films you claim to have watched. Why didn't Skynet send a Terminator to assassinate Sarah's granny? It's explained in the first film that Skynet didn't even know which Sarah Connor to kill, just that she lived in L.A. in 1984. Hence the phonebook killings. And Sarah should have just blown away the cell phone salesman? Gee, you you think maybe she tried to kill a good person she thought was responsible for Skynet once before and realized she couldn't? Like it was a major plot point of the second movie? Morons, the lot of you.