Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Terminator, "The Mousetrap": Smarter than the average robot

Quick spoilers for last night's episode of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" coming up just as soon as I peruse the celebrity tabs...

That's three episodes in a row of "not bad." I don't know that the show has a higher gear than these B-movie self-contained thriller stories, and I'm not sure I'd want to see that higher gear. (What is the original "Terminator," after all, but one of the best B-movies of all time?) I'm much more engaged when the danger is clear and present than when the show deals with larger, more complicated story arcs like whatever Shirley Manson's doing. On the other hand, if I don't care about the arcs, I'm not sure the episodic stories are good enough to keep me watching once the timeslot crunch gets worse. (Again, I have a three-week head start on "Chuck," which helps.)

A few random thoughts:

• I hope the "Lost" producers have big plans for Penny in the final two seasons, because with Michelle's death here and HBO's decision not to go forward with "Tell Me You Love Me" season two, Sonya Walger's running out of semi-regular gigs.

• You would never have thought it from watching "Deadwood" that Garret Dillahunt is such a gym rat. Guy looked pumped in those swords-and-sandals clips.

• There are certain actors who should never, ever, be asked to run on film, because their running style immediately undercuts any attempt to make them seem like a bad-ass. David Caruso immediately comes to mind (there's about a five-minute sequence in "Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast" that's nothing but Caruso running, and it is among the unintentionally funniest things I've ever seen), and to that list I think we can add Thomas Dekker, who looked beyond goofy sprinting around the Santa Monica Pier. As the "Terminator" franchise is one big chase story, this could be an ongoing problem. Maybe lots of car chases?

• I liked the solution to the chase, by the way: while Terminators look like us, they weigh a whole lot more, and likely wouldn't be able to avoid sinking in water. On the other hand, how does Cameron avoid constantly breaking every chair she sits in?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I liked the whole terminator sinking thing too. But it's not weight -- it's boyancy. Metal endoskeletons are presumably denser (not simply heavier) than bone; and I guess terminators have less body fat, too.

(Speaking of which, um, yeah, I think Dillahunt's been working out. I noticed it more with his clothes on -- and soaking wet).

And what was supposed to be up with Shirley Manson and her -- evidently -- delicious glass of water? Were there supposed to be nanobots or something in the water (which she also offered Ellison, but which he didn't drink)? Or was she simply trying to subtly demonstrate "You can trust me, I'm not a robot. See, watch me drink water!"

Anonymous said...

There are certain actors who should never, ever, be asked to run on film

I have not watched last night's episode yet, but at the risk of going off topic, I just wanted to say that one of those actors that shouldn't EVER run on screen is Kyle Chandler. I love him, but he doesn't seem to be athetic at all. He was a baseball player on Homefront ('91-'93) and anytime they would show him running it would make me laugh. Even now on FNL, when he has to run it's very awkward and just plain odd the way he runs.

Anonymous said...

Some people's hotness kind of sneaks up on you and that's definitely the case with Dillahunt. I don't know if he's always been hot and I just never noticed it (because working out or not, for so long I just thought of him as the awesome, goofball guy in the diner on Stan Hoooper), but I'm spending way more time ogling him than Brian Austin Green. Um...clearly I don't actually need plot on this show.

I agree with the idea that the "someone's actually in peril" action's more engaging than the mythology. Maybe that will change for me. I don't know. I'm sure I'll stick with it because when there are fifteen different things you watch on Monday nights then what's one more, but I enjoy the unintentional (or maybe the intention is to look unintentional?) hilarity of the "Prison Break" action and story arcs than TSCC's.

Thomas Dekker is just a couple of steps away from running like Phoebe, but I'm always impressed when actors walk or run across that pier without busting their asses. I twist my ankle at least three times everytime I visit.

Sara Ann said...

Anonymous, you beat me to the buoyancy punch (though, since you're anonymous, I guess I could just claim I was you).

There were a lot of very clever moments in this episode - after his mousetrap bait-and-switch I almost felt Cromartie deserved to find John, and then I laughed out loud when he sank. But then other, less well thought out bits marred the proceedings. How does stopping the van help the dying wife? Why did Charlie let her walk through the desert anyway? And for the love of character consistency, why did Sarah stop the van? I don't care if it would save Charlie's wife AND a bus full of deaf-mute children AND a puppy, if John Connor is in danger, Sarah Connor does not stop the van! It's one of the central tenets of the show! Gah!

Anyway, I've gone on at much more length on (brace for shameless plug) my blog - http://tvonthebrain.blogspot.com/ Read it; it'll make you smart.

K J Gillenwater said...

I'm kind of annoyed by this new 'girlfriend' of his. She just seems out of place with what is going on in the rest of the show. But I'm guessing something's going to happen with her later on, so that's fine

I didn't notice any weird running. But I do remember thinking, "Jeez, he's fast." I'd look like an elephant lumbering along if it were me on camera.

I liked the ex-fiance's emotions in this. Very real. When he was on the phone with John and just broke down. That got to me. Poor guy.

I thought the water wasn't even drunk. That the level was exactly the same as when it was set down...and that they were trying to point out that the former FBI guy sorta noticed something was off. But I could be wrong on that.

Still the most fun show on tv that I can watch with my 10-year-old. She *loves* it, so I am there every Monday enjoying it with her! :-)

Boricua in Texas said...

My 10 year-old daughter and I watch this together as well, and we both enjoy it. Yes, it's basicaly a B-movie stretched over a season, but it's a heck of a lot more entertaining and less pretentious than Heroes.

Even the things that don't make sense (like SC stopping the van) are less annoying than the yesterday's entire two hours of Heroes.

Drew said...

I just want to give a shout out to the B-movie inside the b-movie. I loved the clips of Dillahunt's highlander/tarzan ripoff. The cut away to the stock footage of the tiger had me in stitches.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure the reasons beyond Sarah actually stopping the van, but I think Charlie wanted her to stop because her driving was banging the hell out of him and the wife. He was already frantic and having a hard time keeping himself together and it was almost like stopping the van would calm everything for a second, he could regroup and the medic side of him could better take care of her. I'm pretty sure he knew this was not going to end well, but he had to do something and stopping the van from bouncing down that road was literally the thing to pause everything for a second. I like Dean Winters, but I'm rarely all that impressed with him. I was last night, though. Charlie felt very genuine throughout. I like him on this show and that probably means that they'll kill him sometime in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Gold Coast. The last truly watchable thing Carusobot ever did. And Marg Helgeberger was his co-star! Mrowr!

Anonymous said...

It's a bad sign that Shirley Manson's "character" would be more interesting if the story she told Ellsion about herself were true.

By the way, possible clue (or red herring) for something we're all suspicious about: notice that we didn't actually see Cameron's conversation with Riley in the parking garage, which is sometimes a tipoff that the audience is being tricked.

Anonymous said...

Loved the clips of Lazlo as a pre-fame Arnold in the Conan The Barbarian-type sword film.

I'd love to see Sarah pass a TV with the Governor of California speaking and do a double-take.

But humor aside, this has become one dark show - really surprised it's slotted at 8. I hope it lasts so that we can see what it evolves into.

As is, it's far more satisfying than either Lost or Heroes. If this were one of those shows, we'd find out that Weaver was a Terminatrix in the last episode of the season instead of the first, and John's bangs would be cut right after he got his AARP card.

Anonymous said...

I've got a big logic problem with the second season. The actor whose identity Cromartie assumed was killed days, perhaps WEEKS, before the shoot-out at the apartment building. He'd be a decomposed pile of mush by now...how was he so perfectly preserved? And even if he was killed a day before the shoot-out, it would still be obvious to even the most incompetent coroner that he couldn't have been alive when the shoot-out occurred.

On top of that, how smart is it for Cromartie to assume the identity of an actor who is likely to be recognized on the street? Shouldn't he do something now to obscure his features?

Anonymous said...

Amysusanne: Thank you for the Phoebe reference. The memory always makes me giggle.

I think Riley is a 'bot as well. She says the weirdest things, but also she gave Cameron a very Cameron head tilt glance when Cameron asked where John was. I found that intriguing.

I have always liked Dean Winters esp. in Oz, but he's been truly great on this show, esp. in last night's episode. Very powerful.

Elisa Day said...

The B-Movie within the show was a direct scene steal (lines and everything) from Beastmaster, a cheesy B-movie from the 80s starring Marc Singer (of V fame) and Tanya Roberts (Sheena lives!) that spawned some sequels including cheesy syndicated TV-show. My little brother went through a period where he watched it daily so I seem to know much of the dialogue...

Anonymous said...

I always thought Patrick McGoohan looked pretty silly running around in The Prisoner, as great as that show and McGoohan are. Arms flopping all over the place.

This show is just entertaining enough to keep watching, but there are upwards of 10-15 plot holes in every episode. I could live with that, if the writing was sharper.

K J Gillenwater said...

Um, and here I thought they were making fun of Schwartzeneggar and his Conan days...weren't they? Was I the only one that thought that?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Elisa, it was not a Conan ripoff, but Beastmaster. The tiger made it more clear in my mind. The camera angle and even the hairstyle of the actor/headband thing was straight from Mark Singer's glory days.

electricia said...

Yeah, it was definitely Beastmaster. For some reason a couple of summers ago I watched it with a friend, and it was awesomely terrible.

Does anyone else remember the Robot Chicken sketch "Beastmaster: The Musical"? It was starring David Hasselhoff and Gene Simmons (who actually provided voices) and Faith Hill as the slave girl and Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane as the ferrets. It was brilliant.

Anyway, the thing with her stopping the van bugged me too, mainly because I couldn't figure out why he wanted her to stop the van. I'd think he'd want her to drive to a hospital as soon as possible.

And I was also wondering about the deal with Lazlo being killed long before the shoot-out. It seems like that would have been pretty obvious to anyone involved.

Now about this plane crash Shirley-1000 was talking about...is that actually something from the mythology that I just don't remember? Or is that completely new information that we know nothing about? If so, I wonder if it's actually going to become part of the mythology, or if it's just something she manufactured to gain Ellis' trust.

I think the most disturbing thing about this episode was the size of Busy Phillips' pregnant stomach. How many babies does she have in there?