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. Ok yes Brian I do remember that I thought you were referring to that deleated T2 scene.
    Yea I guess your right T3 did violate that established fact.
    I allways thought that the lukemia that Sarah died from was caused by the T-1000′s spiking her shoulder in T2
    it could have transfered radioactive junk into her blood.
    They referenced her death in T3 on tonights episode of SCC. So it just gets wierder.

  2. I wouldnt be surprised if somewhere down the line Sarah is transported back to that day in december 2005 where she is supposed to die .
    And her cancer ?
    probably the result of being exposed to the radioactive core of a terminator.
    which hasent happened,
    It may verwell be that by sending her forward in time Cajmeron has set in motion the events that will lead to Sarahs death .
    or at least her death as history has recorded it.

  3. Darn typos!
    Sorry about that.
    anyway, I think camerons attempt to prevent Sarahs death will ultimately lead to it.
    or at least as far as history is concerned she will be dead ,
    and possibly off the grid somewhere else .
    opinions ?

  4. Brian I was thinking after I read your last post, did T3 violate cannon,,?
    And I have to say your incorrect
    Sarah Connor didn’t give Kile Reese the photo John Connor did. If I remember correctly in the scene at the hotel Kile tells Sarah that “John gave me a picture of you once. I didn’t know at the time it was very old faded, you were very young like you are now”. Its the story of the picture that causes Sarah to fall in love with Kile.
    Go check it I bet I’m right. :)

  5. (Warning geek post factor high)…
    Alot of people rag on Mostow for the fatalistic Termintor 3, but not me I think he had this thing worked out. Sarah Connor portrayed by Linda Hamilton declined to be in the film folks!
    Therefore (for the sake of character continuity)her contracting Lukiemia (IMO) was due to the fact that she was exposed to the T-1000 2 times. Once in the elevator at Pescadaro mental hospital and at the CSI steelyards when she received a spike to the shoulder for more than a minute.
    The T-1000 was made up of dna-sized nano-bots that each had a fusion resonance that would have been steeming with radioactivity.
    There you go Gary…that’s one way to catch Lukiemia.
    During that year when T3 came out I didn’t have any forwarning of the plot. So when the Terminator tells John and Kate that Judgement Day was in 5 hours it really blew me away… As did the ending..
    later reflecting back I was surprised that Mostow was granted the right to change the course of the Terminator franchise…
    IMO, it was a bold move and also think that T4 should close and end the franchise (theatrically) with
    Connor sending back Kile Reese,Unkle bob, and Terminator 3.. Afterward the distruction of the Time machine would be in order.
    I would hate to see the Terminator (movie) frachise going on and on and on because they can’t blow up the time machine in time. Gheesh its soo obvious the focal point of all this. (According to Camerons Terminator world there was only one Time chamber).
    Meanwhile I’m digging the tv show since it takes place between there and who knows its entertaining. :)

  6. It would have been great if the casting folk on Sarah Connor Cronicles would have hired Roland Kickinger. He’s the spitting image of young Arnold…
    He was in “Son of the Beach” and also played Arnold in the docu-film about Arnold I don’t remember the exact name.
    They could have used him for all the time travelling Terminators. These other Terms are kinda weak…IMO

  7. Also, its too bad they didn’t make Cameron a full TX with morphing capabilities and on board weapons. But I guess it would have been hard to capture a TX,…

  8. Most importantly, a point you forgot, is the biggest plot hole of all: now that they time-travelled to 2007, they left the ray gun and the time machine back in the vault in 1999. What’s up with that loose end? It wasn’t explained. It wasn’t blown up, so there it is, ready to be reverse engineered, or worse, used again. Future technology.

  9. Right on Sheila!
    My thoughts on that….
    I think that was a one shot rifle in the vault.

    That vault scene has alot of unanswered questions. IMO

  10. Anyone else bothered by the fact that the terminator skull passed through the time portal in the second half of the pilot? Isn’t that a MAJOR incongruity in the story? Also, Lena’s Sarah Connor is way too soft, not edgy and tormented like Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor… and when she’s edgy, it seems overdone. I hate how she calls Kyle “Kyle Reese”. It was always either Kyle or Reese. Do you call someone you love by their full name? And as another poster stated, the terminator that was in the classroom, when he turned around and said, “Class dismissed”, I cringed. I hope this series improves and that this is just the teething process of a new show.

  11. I’m prob wrong but wasn’t the school teacher terminator blown up alongside the road resulting in the Terminator head being found by the cal-trans dude?
    And then the remains of the endo-skeleton came back on-line at the junkyard.
    This then caused the endo-body to seek out its head…
    Vert cool how the Terminator has to wear camo because he’s without flesh.

  12. No, they showed the scene where the skinless skull passed through the portal with Sarah, John and Cameron.

  13. No, they showed the scene where the skinless skull passed through the portal with Sarah, John and Cameron.

  14. Ken,

    I haven’t seen part 2 yet, but along the same lines, when the Terminator pulled a gun out of his leg (that to me indicates he brought it from the future) why was it a regular 9MM handgun instead of a “future weapon”?


  15. Ken I agree with your comments on the casting of Sarah, her hair is black? Never seen Sarah connor with black hair??
    Also Ken I don’t remember seeing the Terminators head getting in the times sphere but if so it should have been vapor since only living tissue can survive the time machine skynet built.
    I’m a little confused myself, I don’t remember where that skinless Term. came from. We know the teacher unit was blasted at the vault and there’s the terminator that was lying in wait but that’s it. Who did I forget?
    All I know is that road worker picks up the head on the side of the road and next thing there’s a headless Term at a junkyard???
    And question?? How does a headless Terminator see where he’s going. Some kind of Lojack in the head??
    Good point about the 9mm Vic. There’s lots of little problems with this show but overall its entertaining…

  16. i think the teacher unit stole a 9mm after he got here, and jury rigged his leg to contain it.
    thats my best guess.

  17. I wonder if this tv show will have the courage or lasting power to resolve the Judgement day factor.
    I do hope Sarah lives long enough to destroy Microsoft, I mean skynet…

  18. Panda, great point about the lack of a strong antagonist and I, too, noticed the flub in the opening monologue.

    FYI, folks, I started watching Monday’s episode and decided to turn it off about 15 minutes in. If you like it, fine, but it’s not for me.


  19. 1-”Also, Lena’s Sarah Connor is way too soft, not edgy and tormented like Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor… and when she’s edgy, it seems overdone.”

    Regarding the softness of the current Sara Connor, let’s not foreget that she (Sara) thought they killed off the Terminators and Skynet until now. Meaning it is possible that she become soft due to the feeling that the threat was over. People who work out and are real buff and honed do get soft and flabby when they stop working out. I am sure that as time continues, she may get her edginess and buffness back.

  20. But that’s not even true of the storyline depicted in the TV show. Sarah is still on edge, teaching John that no one is ever safe and to never believe that he is. She’s still on the run from danger. She still lines the couch with kevlar “just in case”. And she’s still teaching John to be a leader.

    “Regarding the softness of the current Sara Connor, let’s not foreget that she (Sara) thought they killed off the Terminators and Skynet until now. Meaning it is possible that she become soft due to the feeling that the threat was over. People who work out and are real buff and honed do get soft and flabby when they stop working out. I am sure that as time continues, she may get her edginess and buffness back.”

  21. Ok, I guess I’ll add my two cents in as well, seems everyone has covered everything already. It would seem that the majority of the people here are more in favor of the show, myself included. One of the people writing in here, “T” had it right,In a nutshell saying just to “relax” and have fun with it. I read way to many reviews from people and not just on Vic’s blog, but on some others and I think everyone just tries to put way too much thought into some of these shows. Alot of you people just make yourselves miserable by trying to find every single thing wrong with a show, trying to find the bad and yes, nitpickingtwo, when a tv show comes out thats a spin off of a major motion picture, you can’t expect that its going to reflect all the eleements of the movie, it just doesn’t happen, and if it does its very rare.
    >Vic I know its your show here and its your job to review it all as much as it’s our job to either agree or disagree with you, but I just think that this particular show was done really well and it deserves a chance. if you keep boycotting shows like this becasue of some minor stuff, we won’t have anything left to watch but these crappy reality shows. Just put aside everything you think you know about it all and let yourself just get into it. so what if theres cheesy line, they were meant to be humorous. “you might want to holster those” I thought was a pretty good one liner. Anyway, I’ve ranted enough. I like the show, I was impressed with the way it turned out and I look forward to the other episodes. Have fun with it and relax.

  22. Jeff,

    Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts. I nitpick because little things like that take me out of the show/movie I’m watching. There’s something called “suspension of disbelief” that applies to sci-fi/horror/fantasy movies which is the ability of what you’re watching to suck you into it’s fictional universe and making it believable despite the fact you know it’s not real.

    And as to this:

    “if you keep boycotting shows like this becasue of some minor stuff, we won’t have anything left to watch but these crappy reality shows.”

    I have the opposite opinion: if people keep accepting crap TV shows and movies and helping them make money, then the studios have no incentive to improve the quality.

    On the other hand most people (and I don’t mean you) prefer crap over quality. Look at how some folks reamed me over my AVP-R review and look at how Firefly and Journeyman got cancelled and Serenity didn’t make that much at the box office.

    Despite this I will continue to fight the good fight here at Screen Rant. :-)


  23. Jeff G, commenting on tv shows and films is what this site is all about.
    I had some problems with Sarah Connor adventures, but I didn’t make myself miserable over it, I enjoyed the feedback and then I moved on…I’ll be watching the show even though its subpar.
    I’m would rather have an experienced opinion on shows not some (yeah its great) its Terminator, ya gotta love it bs.
    I feel Vic goes out of his way to cover these shows and his reviews are very well done and consistant.
    But anyway I enjoyed reading your ScreeRant!

  24. Thanks, Patrick… and welcome to Screen Rant!


  25. Vic – it was the whole movie I did not like. Although the ending was horrible! I did not like the ending because it just wrapped everything up so nicely ….. too nicely. I liked the suspense of not knowing if they will succeed in winning against skynet or not. T3 left NOTHING left to chance.

  26. In regards to morphing, that costs MONEY!
    they probably couldnt afford it .
    they dont have access to same type of budget james cameron had.