Review: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Published 7 years ago by , Updated July 18th, 2013 at 9:36 am,

terminator chronicles premi Review: Terminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesThe premiere episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles opens in the year 1999 with a big action scene which is glaringly obvious is a dream sequence about 2/3 of the way in. Sarah wakes up from the nightmare and my first thought was: Lame cop out.

The FBI is after Sarah Connor for her escape from the looney bin in Terminator 2 and because they believe she is responsible for the death of Miles Dyson, also from that film. Dyson was the guy who was responsible for Skynet, the computer system that brought nuclear armageddon upon humanity. It seems that his death only delayed the inevitable.

Regarding the timeline of this series: It seems to take place between T2 & T3.

Ok, before I rip into this thing, maybe I should list some positives about the episode so you don’t think I’m being a jerk just for fun. Was there anything good about the show?


Number one good thing: Summer Glau as the “good” Terminatrix. Summer is best known from her stint on the ill-fated Firefly TV series and the Serenity film based on the TV show. She has an otherworldly quality that is perfectly suited for this role. Also, having seen her kick major butt in Serenity makes it easy to buy her as a Terminator here.

Number two good thing: The visual effects. For a TV series I thought they were pretty impressive, in particular the scene at the end of the episode where the evil Terminator is trying to get into the bank vault where the good guys are hiding.

Number three good thing: By the end of the episode, it finally started to get just a bit more interesting in a twist that I did not see coming.

So after all that glowing praise, what was bad about the episode?

Pretty much everything else.

The dialog is unbelievably cheesy. Both the opening and closing monologues by Sarah are way, WAY over the top melodramatic. And I felt genuinely sorry for the actress playing Sarah who had to deliver lines like the following:

In a scene where she decides they’ve stayed put too long and have to leave immediately:

“Half an hour. One bag. Plus the guns – I’ll make pancakes.”

In a later scene where Glau is repairing herself after being shot and is shirtless with John in the same room but around the corner:

You might want to holster those.

Guess what “those” are.

I mean, seriously, if writers want to negotiate for more money they’d better do better than that.

Ok, bad dialog, big deal you say? Well in addition there were more plot holes in this thing than those in a piece of swiss cheese.

If they want to “stay off the grid” why aren’t they living in Mexico or some other more low-tech hiding place than in the U.S.?

Why in God’s name did they pick “Reese” (the name of the soldier sent back in time in the first Terminator movie and John Connor’s father) as their cover name? I mean all the Terminator had to do to pick out John from a class full of high schoolers was run his finger down the attendance sheet for crying out loud.

Why does the Terminator spout off with witty quips? Yes, Ahnuld did that in the first film with his F*** you, a**hole, but it worked in context. Hearing a Terminator as a substitute teacher say “class dismissed” after riddling it with bullets just seemed completely out of place. The former line was dealing with someone and trying to get rid of them where the latter was thrown out like something Spider-man would say after catching the bad guy.

It was completely obvious that a silhouetted person who comes into the room where the bad guy is holding Sarah and mimicking her voice is NOT John even though the person is speaking in HIS voice. Ohhh… the good Terminator is turning the bad Terminator’s own trick against him. (Viewer slaps forehead in amazement.)

Also, in this world a La-Z-Boy chair will stop 9MM bullets. Really. I ran it back and replayed it on my Tivo to be sure that the bullets didn’t in fact go through and bounce off the wall and Sarah was just ducking down low. Nope. The old stuffed chair stopped those bullets cold. I guess they used to build tougher furniture than they do these days.

Oh and one Terminator can electrocute another with a high voltage cable while touching him but not get electrocuted themselves.

They did throw in the “Come with me if you want to live” line, so I guess that counts for something.

Back to the story: Sarah and John are on the run and have been for about five years since the events of T2. There is an FBI agent pursuing them that while initially doubtful about her whole story, begins to get his first whiff of becoming convinced when a room full of high school students witnesses “a guy with robot leg” shooting up a classroom.

At the very end of the episode (and I’m not really clear on how they managed this) the female terminator had stored in a safety deposit box at a bank not only a weapon that could blow the head off a Terminator, but one of those time travel devices that send people through time naked in a big glowy sphere.

They arrive in present day (2007) in the last two minutes of the episode, where Sarah’s brief fiancee from the beginning of the episode and the FBI agent see her on the news after being missing for 8 years.

I may give Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles one more hour of my life tomorrow night to see if it improves at all – but I’m not very hopeful.

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  1. “Also, in this world a La-Z-Boy chair will stop 9MM bullets. Really. I ran it back and replayed it on my Tivo to be sure that the bullets didn’t in fact go through and bounce off the wall and Sarah was just ducking down low. Nope. The old stuffed chair stopped those bullets cold. I guess they used to build tougher furniture than they do these days.”

    In relation to this the above comment. They later explain this scene when the FBI are investigating the CONNOR’S torn up house and cannot understand why someone would line their LAZY BOY with Kevlar.

    So it does match up with Sara trait of preparing for battle with TERMINATORS.

  2. c’mon man, stop with the silly nitpicking. that show was dam good, better than most of the crap ive seen on broadcast tv in a while. just relax and enjoy the ride. besides, it could be worse, it could be that horrible bionic woman crap.

  3. “At the very end of the episode (and I’m not really clear on how they managed this) the female terminator had stored in a safety deposit box at a bank not only a weapon that could blow the head off a Terminator, but one of those time travel devices that send people through time naked in a big glowy sphere.”

    Cameron explained that others had traveled back in time to 1963 and stored the “future” equipment in the bank’s safety deposit boxes.

    Yes, it was cheesy and the dialogue pretty much sucked. But it wasn’t all that bad.

  4. Nah, come on guys, the show blows. There’s no question at all why they decided not to run the show when it was filmed, I only wish though they would have decided to run Fire Fly instead.

    Seriously, this makes a mockery of Jame’s Cameron’s movies, and destroys the lore entirely. Best pretend the whole thing was just John Connor’s bad dream.

  5. Great review Vic as usual……
    I agree with it…overall….
    The lazy boy thing was very funny.
    ^ it wasn’t perfect but…

    Couple things I didn’t like…
    The show should have been shown in Widescreen!!! Full screen dosnt capture the scope well.
    Sarah Connors hair color should have been tan/sandy blonde. The actress reminded me of Nina from 24….but seriously the hair color should have the same and it bugged me throughout the show.
    Couple small points, Dysons family photo was missing Danny’s sister from T2.
    The Terminators that were shown should have been more buffed out.
    The biggest problem I guess I had was that when they jumped forward in time to 2007 they
    violated the timeline that was set in T3.
    T3 was set in the year 2004. Also they copped out the Timemachine and made it a gimmik.
    (Didn’t like that hope its not a trend).
    Things I liked…
    The female terminator protector looks alot like the TX from T3. (Note the blue glowing eyes).
    The actor that plays John Connor is very convincing and well cast…
    I’m guessing “come with me if you want to live” is a resistance password at this point.
    This show was a collection of Terminator cliches but overall entertaining…..
    It has continuity problems and throws the Terminator timeline all over the place but it still holds my attention and could be very entertaing if they don’t trash the Terminator mythos too badly.
    But overall Vic’s review is dead on and I don’t know if this show will get any better or end up taking the Terminator franchise down or not… More to comment on after tonights show… :)

  6. Nikki when did Cameron explain that others had gone back to 1963 I never heard that.
    If this show has a different terminator villian every week it will get old.
    I don’t like the fact that Skynet just keep sending Terminators back thru time.
    Its explained in T1 that the resistance shut skynet down. How can it be still sending Terminators back.???
    The going after Skynet plotline could be good I’ll give it a few more episodes… :)

  7. Totally disagree with you. The show was a blast, especially the action scenes, like when the terminator pulled a gun out of his leg. I was like, “Damn!” The lines aren’t cheesy to me at all. When you dissect dialogue in movies, it almost always sounds cliche’d if you stress on it too bad. The dialogue in this series is equal to most of the dialogue in other shows. In this version, the timeline is also slightly different, so we cannot hold the story to the same dates and exact rules. The show has flaws, but any more than 24, or some of the other shows on TV? C’mon, relax. This show has me hooked already.

  8. Hey guys,

    Like I wrote, I did think the show had SOME redeeming qualities and yes, it was not drop dead awful like “Bionic Woman.”

    I have to admit I missed the “kevlar chair” comment, and some shows do take a few episodes before they find their legs and hit their stride.

    I always appreciate debate here when it’s done intelligently like you guys have!

    Best regards and thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  9. Whait I thought Jhon Conners did not find out about sky net till in the middle of the third movie. Even though I liked the show it was fun
    unlike Baionic Women.

  10. Steve,
    cameron mentioned the safety deposit box was established in 1963 just before they entered the bank. and as they entered the camera focused on a stone plaque outside the bank that said “this stone was set in 1963″.
    hope this is helpful.

  11. I don’t like Lena Headey (300) as Sarah Connor. She just doesn’t look like a bad ass that Linda Hamilton was in T2. The kid cast as John Connor was a good choice though. I think he’s actually better than the horrible casting of Nick Stahl in T3. As for the young female Terminator, I’m still undecided and will wait till I see a couple more episodes. She does have a very exotic look to her. She looks half Asian/white.

    Overall the pilot episode was ok. I agree with the poor writing and lame opening dream sequence. Hopefully the show gets better as I’ve been looking forward to watching it.

  12. uh…cheesy melodramatic dialogue? Have you seen T1 and T2?

    You are very hypocritical and you forget that fact that Terminator is a fictional and its a TV show…wait…why are you reviewing this then?

    This article/review is retarded and I lost faith in you Vic. You don’t seem to understand entertainment story-telling. If this show went the way your illogical review shows you want, then this would be the worst show ever.

    Terminator premiere: 9/10
    Your Review: 1/10

    alot of your comments show that many of you missed some key dialogue points explaining some of your questions. Tivo and re-watch it.

  13. “uh…cheesy melodramatic dialogue? Have you seen T1 and T2?”

    Yes, I have, and as a matter of fact I watched them both this weekend. The dialog was nowhere near as cornball as it was in this episode.

    “you forget that fact that Terminator is a fictional and its a TV show…You don’t seem to understand entertainment story-telling.”

    Once again I feel the need to point out that “fictional” and “entertainment” does not have to equal “substandard.” Search this site for my reviews of “Heroes,” “Journeyman,” “Stargate-SG1,” “Firefly,” etc., etc. for counterpoints to what you’ve said about my point of view.

    I *did* say there might be hope for this show.

    Best regards,


  14. I thought the season opener was very entertaining. Held my interest. I liked the casting overall. It’s it corny, to some extent yes. More so than the movies. However, the effects are great for television and I see this show getting more entertaining as the storyline continues.
    One side note, I think the girl terminator looks like a young version of Sigourney Weaver (who was in James Cameron’s Aliens).

    I think this show showed more promise than the handful that are already out there (Bionic Woman, Journey Man). Good luck!!!!

  15. Yeah sorry about that Nikki when I read your post it was like 4 in the morning and for some reason I thought you meant James Cameron mentioned the bank vault deal. I didn’t realise till Garys post that the female TX is called Cameron. Gheeesh I blew that one… :)^
    One ironic twist was the date 1963, same year Kennedy was shot..?? Hmm
    jimmy, glad you liked the show but the dialog was not only cheesy it was basically just lifted right out of both T1 and 2 scripts. I noticed Mario Kassar’s name in the creds that explains alot to me on that….
    How many times can you say ” come with me if you want to live” and have it not get ammusing.
    And are you trying to say that Vic and this site shouldn’t cover tv shows???
    I disagree with most of your points.
    Cliff good point on the weaver look. I think she’s well cast. She IMO looks like a younger version of Kristna Lokans TX,!^
    I’ll be tuning in tonight hope to see some more comments afterwards. :)

  16. Also Endri, John Connor knew about Skynet from his moms tapes.

    Remember at the end of T1 she was making tapes of info for John to listen to when he got older.
    During the film T2 John Connor tells the Terminator that he wants to go home and get some stuff, he’s talking about those tapes.
    In a deleated scene found only on the T2 Extreme dvd you can see a the scene where the T-1000 goes into Johns room after he kills the foster parents and finds the tapes…
    By the time of T2 JC knows of Skynet….

  17. I completely spaced and missed the first episode! Does anyone know it’s online anywhere?

  18. I would try the official site:


  19. I enjoyed T:TSCC in a popcorn flick comes to the small screen kind of way. As an aside theose involved with this series as well as the movie franchised have hinted around that alternate histories are created whenever time-travel is involved. Personally, I don’t mind this as it leaves the overall mythology more flexible.

  20. Don’t get me wrong I’ll be watching this every night like a robot.

    Beats any other reality show for sure. (Dosnt take much)…an old dvd will do.
    And yeah Time Travel enables the franchise to go down a bunch of different paths.

    But they jumped right over Judgement day (T3) with a handheld Time machine. I allways pictured the Time machine to be a massive complex that used the power of a nuclear power plant to work.. But I guess 110 volts will do it..?

    Being a massive dorky terminator hella fan, that kind of botherd me a little.

    But I’ll get over it.

    Its good practice for me with the next Star Trek film being a cannon fodder event unlike anything ever witnessed. :)

  21. Fatroddy, when it comes to the Terminator films I’m all about silly nitpicking ….. :)
    Bad news another episodes on in a few hours and my online connection is working. Hehee

  22. Didn’t like T3?

    Jane was it because of the ending?

    T3 was great because it threw out the “let’s stop judgement day” cycle the franschise was stuck on.

    T4 (IMO) should be set in the future and the new enemy should be skynet.
    Since Connor knows what’s going to happen with the timeline he should focus on stopping the time machine from being built

    Since that’s the one way to prevent and hopfully restore the timeline
    IMO, the next film should resemble a full on war epic againt Skynet.
    Terminator 4 War accross Time. Good title???

  23. 1)comment:
    The Terminators that were shown should have been more buffed out. ”
    Not Really. If the TERMINATORS were always so buffed out then they would be easy for the FUTURE RESISTANCE to spot. The TERMINATORS really need to come in ALL SHAPES and SIZES to be better infiltration units: (which is their primary function) In fact, how many buffed out people would there really be in a war torn future where food is scare?
    The biggest problem I guess I had was that when they jumped forward in time to 2007 they
    violated the timeline that was set in T3.
    T3 was set in the year 2004. Also they copped out the Timemachine and made it a gimmik.
    (Didn’t like that hope its not a trend).
    this could be problematic, HOWEVER, we have to remember that “whenever time travel comes into play, alternate time lines are always a possibility.” In fact this could a PRE-EMPTIVE way to BRING BACK SARA CONNER (at least for just a few more years, until the Cancer I think, kills her as was explained in T3)(Now speaking about T3 killing off Sara Connor without a fight; i always hated this in T3; especially since Kyle Reese met her one in the future when she was old and handed Kyle Reese a picture of her (the picture taken by the Spanish Boy in T1) that ended up loosing in the Resistance Hide Out when the “Terminator played by Franco Colombo infiltrated his base”. So the need to bring back Sara Connor in some way is needed.

    Lastly speaking about time violations, the fact that John Connor exists is completely the fault of Skynet in the first place since John Connor would have never been born in the first place had Skynet not sent back the Terminator in T1, which would have resulted in “no need for Kyle Reese to return and so forth”.

  24. You guys can fill me in on how the second part was… I’m not feeling well so I won’t be staying up to watch it tonight (although I do have it recorded).


  25. I liked the show and will be watching it. Yea its chessy, yea the bad terminator has nothing on Arnold .. but can you REALLY replace Arnold?

    I personally HATED T3 it ruined T1 and T2 for me, as such I am more than happy to pretend that T3 never happened and watch the show. Try it … pretend only T2 ever existed and THEN watch the show, its much more belivable that way.

  26. Hey Brian, good points.

    1: I agree with your point on infiltration units looking different and not allways buff.
    However the 2 Terminators that we saw in SCC were T-800 models. The T-800′s had a large muscle mass because there chasis were oversized. The later models like the TX were more compact because of advancements to the Terminators.
    2:good point, however I didn’t bother me not seeing Sarahs death. Btw,(Her death in T3 was just addressed on tonights SCC).
    3: the scene you talked about where an Old Sarah gives Kyle a picture in the park was a deleated scene and never used…
    There is a way to eliminate the time paradox that Skynet brings upon itself.
    The resistance needs to destroy the time machine before it gets built. And then destroy Skynet in that order.

  27. I dont think this is that bad so far. The whole sending people back in time to set up a support structure is kinda cool. It does bug me that its established that everything that comes from the future contributes to the creation of skynet. I dont mind the story so far though. It takes time for these things to get legs under them. The first few episodes of anything are usually rough. The cast is decent and its neat to watch.

    I find myself unable to get attached enough to be upset given that the shows airing on Fox. I would be suprised to see it return after the strike. Honestly, it wouldnt suprise me if Fox cancelled it while we were watching the 3rd episode. Like it goes to commercial and never comes back.

  28. Steve, not true. (you are thinking about the Old Sarah in T2; this was a deleted scene),however, i am talking about Terminator One, WHERE Kyle Reese tells Sara in Terminator One about how he met Sara Connor in the future and Sara in the future gave Kyle Reese a picture. This is the picture taken by the Spanish Boy in the end of T-1 while Sara Connor is sitting in her jeep headed into Mexico. This is the picture that Kyle Reeses lost in the future when the “Terminator played by Franco Colombo” attacked the resistance base.” in T-1.

  29. Yea Pope I’m begining to agree with you…..
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    From what know this show was halted back in November
    due to the strike.
    If I remember correctly they only shot 10 episodes.