Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Terminator, "Goodbye to All That": Tag 'em and BAG 'em, gents

Spoilers for last night's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" coming up just as soon as I do a book report on "Ozma of Oz"...

What historical precedents are there for what Brian Austin Green is doing here? He's gone from squeaky-voiced "Beverly Hills 90210" fifth wheel (did anyone at any point watch that show for David Silver?) to convincing bad-ass, and, along with Summer Glau, the reason I remain engaged by a show that's otherwise just slightly better than mediocre.

Okay, I've got one: Kurt Russell, who began his career as a kid and teen actor in a bunch of squeaky-clean Disney comedies, then reinvented himself with a trio of performances circa 1979-81: first as Elvis in a TV movie (considered by many to be the definitive film portrayal of The King), then as a sleazy salesman in one of my favorite films, "Used Cars," and especially as one-eyed Snake Plissken in "Escape From New York."

I'm not saying that the Notorious BAG is remotely at Kurt Russell's level (though, to be fair, he was also the only watchable and funny thing about that Freddie Prinze Jr. sitcom a few years back), but it's still a pretty impressive career transformation, and not one I would have remotely expected from watching him back when he was DJing for West Beverly High and dressing like this.

Even with our most extended BAG spotlight to date, "Goodbye to All That" had some issues. Trying to use the same actor to play Budell as both a teenager and as an adult rebel in the future was a mistake and made all of Derek's flashbacks much sillier than they were supposed to be. (Also, the casting of Kyle Reese was awful. I'm not saying they needed to get a dead ringer for Michael Biehn, but get someone who you'd believe as Future John's number two, who you'd buy protecting a younger Sarah from Arnold Schwarzenegger -- someone, in short, at least as plausibly tough as the current incarnation of BAG.)

There's also the ongoing problem of the Connors being far less interesting than their protectors. This episode tried to mitigate the problem by splitting them up evenly so that most John scenes involved Derek, and most Sarah scenes involved Cameron, but watching Sarah struggle to learn how to be a normal mother isn't the best direction to take the character. I want to see her get more intense, not less, you know?

Still, BAG was good, and Richard T. Jones may yet get me interested in the Shirley Manson storyline. Ellison's reaction to seeing Sarah's picture at the bar suggests he's going to have some interesting choices to make in his new job, even if he takes a while to realize he's working for one of the machines.

(Someone asked me last week how I can continue to enjoy this show while hating on "Heroes," and Ellison's storyline is a good symbol of why. He's doing something that we know is stupid in working for Shirley, but in the context of the show, he's not in a position to know that it's stupid, and he's making some smart choices along the way. If Peter Petrelli and Mohinder were on this show, they'd probably be hard at work building SkyNet because someone told them it was the only way to save humanity.)

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Anthony Michael Hall?

Anonymous said...

Michael Chiklis. From a depressingly bad John Belushi, to the roly-poly and infinitely huggable Commish, to Vick Flippin' Mackey.

Unknown said...

"If Peter Petrelli and Mohinder were on this show, they'd probably be hard at work building SkyNet because someone told them it was the only way to save humanity.)"


I concur with this review.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "Heroes", that sad mess of a show that once had promise 2 years ago, continues to plunge in the ratings. I think "Crossing Jordan" was the real indicator of creator Tim Kring's talent level...

I didn't really enjoy this episode overall, but I am very much enjoying the bad a-- transformation of BAG, and if Terminator gets canceled, I have a feeling BAG may finally start getting some bad a-- movie roles, at least in some Jerry Bruckheimer type flicks.

(hey, if he gets a part as a soldier in "Transformers 2", he can work with real life smoking hottie girlfriend, Megan Fox, and at the same time, kick overrated Shia Lebouf's scrawny butt).

So, while I enjoyed BAG, and actually felt this was the toughest I've ever seen John Conner behave, the episode dragged and felt a bit out of the blue. Everyw eek, they're on the run...all of a sudden, Derek and John are at military school? Weird.

Anonymous said...

Wired was a dreadful movie, but Michael Chicklis was an awesome John Belushi.

Nicole said...

That 90210 flashback of BAG was hilarious and made my day.

Sara Ann said...

On the up-side, at least this episode gave us a John Connor who apparently learned something from his childhood spent running around with guerrillas in South American jungles. More of this somewhat competent John Connor, please.

Also, the action sequence culminating in melting the terminator in a tar pit was good popcorn fun, with the lovely little button of Cameron just standing there watching, not lifting a finger. The show can be logically troubling, but they're really nailing the action set pieces this season. And frankly, that's a big part of what I'm looking for from this show.

Anonymous said...

BAG is the best thing about this show for me. Even moreso because it was so unexpected.

Antid Oto said...

What a strange division in the show: the military school portions were totally watchable, but the scenes with Sarah Connor and that child actor were just painful. Less of her, please.

Anonymous said...

No, Lena Headey is fantastic and one of the best things about the show - along with BAG. I prefer Headey to Summer Glau, easily.

The story arc didn't work last night, maybe, for Headey, but Headey is a fantastic Sarah Conner.

I'd watch a Headey-BAG show and could livie without Glau and the kid.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with the consensus that BAG rocks the house as Derek Reese. I have been enjoying the heck out of this season so far. I'm glad to hear it picked up some viewers, I would be very upset if it got canceled mid-season.

I thought that both arcs worked last night. I didn't see the problem with using the same actor to play both ages of Budell - he looked way older, scarred, filthy, etc, and did fine at playing both the young innocent student and war-ravaged hero. If they switched the kid out folks (myself included) would have complained about that too. I think it would have been more confusing to have used a different actor - the same actors played Derek and Andy Goode in present and future flashes.

I'll go out on a limb and defend the Sarah-takes-care-of-kid storyline. I like her ongoing exploration of both what it means to be a mother, and what it means to be the mother of the savior of humanity (seeing as how this the "Sarah Connor Chronicles"), its an important theme of the show. It was cool to see her interact with a kid whose sole mission was a book report, rather than "saving the world" - the situation gave her a chance to be "protector" but also called upon her more gentle maternal side as well, and I thought that Headly conveyed an enormous amount of emotion without saying a lot. The "thank you" bit was very sweet, and I thought it really drove home the extent to which Sarah has sacrificed everything for her son and by extension the world.

BF said...

Going from squeaky-voiced teen (and aspiring rapper) to bad ass: Will Smith?

Anonymous said...

How quickly they forget:
Rick(y) Schroeder

From the Ricker to the emotionally distant Danny Sorensen, sorting paper clips, getting stirred up, and keeping care of his sisters, almost whacking Don Kirkendahl.

K J Gillenwater said...

Still very much enjoying this show. I like that I don't really know what melty lady's plans are for the FBI agent dude. I don't know where's she's going with having him figure out these robots are involved. Is she setting him up for something? I find it intriguing and want to know more.

As for the military school, I liked that we got to see more of Derek and his messed up childhood and life in the future. How frickin' bleak it all was. And the way he watched that deer in the woods...made me really believe he'd been through hell.

I also liked the terminator in the tar with half his head blown off! Yeah! More of that stuff, please!!!

Anonymous said...

Alan, I can't believe I finally found someone on this planet who not only knows Used Cars but actually loves it as much as I do! Don't tell CPS, but my Dad introduced me to the movie. And the cleanest quote I can use: "Fifty bucks never killed anybody." Now I dig you even more, Alan. :)

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the US flag patch on both Derek's and John's cams were reversed? I assume it's because they're military school-issued, thus, they require visible markers so as to not be mistaken for the real thing. Just curious is all.

And Marty's use of "AFK" when he got up to answer the door was a nice nod at gamer-ese (not to mention terribly cute), but more apt for online gaming than XBox. Still, though. Cute.

My only real complaint about this season so far is Riley. Her character's superfluous.

-M said...

I wouldn't say he's a badass now, but NPH has made a nice transformation from the doogie days.

I'm also disappointed in the direction Mama Connor is taking. In last week's episode I wanted her to shoot Charley and Michelle and toss them out the back of the van when she couldn't get to John and they were whining. Not because that's what I would do...but because that's what I feel like she should do.

I guess T2 was about John giving his mom some humanity, so many the television show is going to have JC getting more intense while his mom goes the other way??

Unknown said...

The US flag patches aren't reversed, that's how they're manufactured for army uniforms. Imagine if you were holding a real US flag on a pole and running forward, the flag would trail behind you with the stars in the front, like it's displayed in the patches. It's displayed as if the wearer is attacking, not retreating.

I was totally on board with this episode, it's actually what's keeping me watching the show. I felt like the background of the military school lent legitimacy to BAG and Connor as people that could lead a real military resistance. They seemed to fit in. Connor definitely was more appealing as a character when he's given a little room to manage himself instead of constantly rebelling against his Mom and ditching Cameron.

Anonymous said...

Here's a silly little thing I picked up from this episode, presuming I am remebering it correctly.

Recall in the original Terminator movie, the Terminator finds the three Sarah Connors (all adults) by getting their names and addresses from a phone book.

In this episode, after the first Martin Bedell is killed, John grabs a phone book, discovering that there are three Martin Bedells in the area.

However, of the remaining two, one is a teenager and one is in grade school. Why would those two be in the phone book?

I know, not all that big a deal, but just something that stuck out to me.

Anonymous said...

My main takeaway from this episode was thinking "Hmm, getting John serious military training rather than this rag tag leaping around piecemeal crap. How smart would it have been to try and make that a serious goal rather than a nifty side effect from this weeks plot line?"

I also was annoyed that they had to resort to the blood writing to track down the guy. Reese obviously knew TONS about the guy, would it have been that hard to figure out the year and track him down (or I dunno, google?)?

Yes, I still watch the show and hope it becomes something better, but I certainly have no problem reading the paper through it.

JMC said...

@regina monster®
AFK has become ubiquitous enough that it's used in all sorts of situations. Like most TLAs, it's a quick shortcut for conveying something a little broader than its original purpose.

Redsmom said...

If anybody is still around here, what is the deal with the blood wall? Who wrote the stuff on the wall and why?

Anonymous said...

"If Peter Petrelli and Mohinder were on this show, they'd probably be hard at work building SkyNet because someone told them it was the only way to save humanity."

ROFL. too funny.

and right on the money. Why is Peter Petrelli such a freaking moon faced idiot in heroes? The only reason I can think of is that the creators are trying to show how having power and being unintentionally stupid can be infinitely worse than having power and being intentionally evil. But we already have President Bush as a daily reminder of that. so....color me confused.

love this show even though sometimes it seems really low budget. especially w/ the future version of that kid they saved. he looked exactly the same many years later. And i loved firefly so anything w/ any of the actors from that show is golden to me.