Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles—Season 1

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8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Strong series and story

Knowing the series isn't long for this world

 
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The Future Is Now!!!

The future is doomed and humanity’s only hope lies in John Connor (Thomas Dekker).  When Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) is forced to flee with John again, she leaves behind her fiancé Charley Dixon (Dean Winters) and finds herself teamed with a new Terminator named Cameron (Summer Glau).  Time travelling eight years into the future, John and Sarah find themselves in a new world but still hunted.  With an FBI agent named James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) moving in on them, and the arrival of Derek Reece (Brian Austin Green), the brother of John’s father, Sarah finds stopping Judgment Day and trying to provide John with a normal life might not be possible.

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I think she might really be a robot

Terminator:  The Sarah Connor Chronicles—Season 1 premiered on Fox from January 13, 2008 with a follow-up episode the next night.  The partial season ran for nine episodes and concluded March 3, 2008.  The series was well received by critics and nominated for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Visual Effects for a Series (both for the pilot) and Outstanding Stunt Coordination (for “Gnothi Seauton”).

I approached Terminator:  The Sarah Connor Chronicles with a lot of reserve.  I had skipped it during its initial run and decided to check it out later.  The reason for this is that though I love The Terminator, I’m not a huge fan of The Terminator franchise.  It has his pluses and minuses, but I have real issues with some of the plotlines of the movies past the first film.  They look awesome, but I just find the story somewhat tedious.  With most of my interest being in the special effects versus the story, a TV series that would have lower special effects and more story didn’t seem like a good bet.

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So…who wants a piece of me!!!

The show takes place between Terminator 2:  Judgment Day and Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines.  Once again, all the characters are recast and obviously no Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Lena Headey is a good Linda Hamilton replacement and she does bring a lot of heart to the rather tormented character.  Thomas Dekker is a good angsty teenager and I am never quite sure if Summer Glau can act since she always plays emotionally detatched girls (like in Firefly).  The rest of the supporting cast is strong, and I do find it rather hard to take 90210 alum Brian Austin Green seriously as the tough weathered soldier from the future (I just remember him trying to rap).

Surprisingly, for the lower budget, the show looks quite good.  It smartly writes out much of the difficult stuff (like T-1000s and other harder to portray Terminators).  It isn’t anywhere near any of the movies (ok the first movie maybe…it was pretty low budget), but it also looks like it could take place in the Terminator universe so that is a good thing.

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Mom, I had this horrible dream we were related to that obnoxious guy from 90210…oh…crap.

As I mentioned, I was worried about the story, but Season 1 seems to weave a rather tight story that is worth following up.  It feels like threads aren’t developing as they should (John and Cameron’s school teen romance comedy with a mystery isn’t panning out), but the general plot surrounding the Turk and the Terminators is working.

It is hard to watch Terminator:  The Sarah Connor Chronicles—Season 1 knowing that the series ultimately fails.  Despite strong ratings for this season, Season 2 had a slow and steady decline in numbers which led to cancellation.  I tried to forget this as I enjoyed this season and have to mentally pretend that the series had a long life.

Terminator:  The Sarah Connor Chronicles—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Pilot”

1.1              Pilot Airdate:  01/13/08

Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) suffers nightmares about Terminators and not being able to protect John (Thomas Dekker).  Sarah decides she isn’t safe and goes on the run with John despite having a fiancé Charley Dixon (Dean Winters).  The FBI locate Sarah through Charley’s missing person report and Charley learns from James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) that Sarah believes robots from the future are trying to kill her son to stop their rule.  Sarah and John set up camp in a new town and John meets a girl named Cameron (Summer Glau).  When a Terminator called Cromartie (Owain Yeoman) tries to assassinate John in class, Cameron is revealed to be a Terminator.  When the Terminator captures Sarah, Cameron and John rescue her.  On the run, Sarah learns that someone else activates Skynet and no one in the future knows who it was.  John questions his future as a messiah and Sarah agrees to help him stop Skynet.  Sarah goes to Miles’ widow Tarissa Dyson (Charlayne Woodard) for help and battles the Terminator again.  On the run, Cameron takes them to a bank where transport through time to 2007 to find the location of Skynet’s creation.

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“Gnothi Seuton”

1.2              Gnothi Seauton Airdate:  01/14/08

The head of the Terminator sent to kill John is found in 2007 by a road cleaner.  Sarah learns from Cameron that there are other resistance fighters in the future, but find they have been killed by a Terminator.  John finds himself stir crazy when he’s forced to remain inside but disobeys Sarah’s orders.  Cameron and Sarah track down Erique Salceda (Tony Amendola) and seeks papers for new identities.  When Sarah and Cameron learn that Erique’s nephew Carlos (Jesse Garcia) is handling his work, they learn that the prices have gone up.  Sarah learns things have changed since their trip to the future and events like 9-11 have happened.  John tracks down Charlie but is forced to flee again.  Sarah, Cameron, and John return to a safehold to find money for their IDs and find themselves facing a Terminator again.  The head of the Terminator is claimed by the Terminator it came from.  Sarah learns Enrique has been keeping secrets and might expose them if something isn’t done, plus faces scary facts about her future.

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“The Turk”

1.3              The Turk Airdate:  01/21/08

Sarah begins to investigate possible suspects who could be working on Skynet and tracks down a former intern named Andy Goode (Brendan Hines) with computer programming plans that could develop into something deadly.  John and Cameron start school and find a strange series of threats are targeting classmates by humiliating them.  FBI agent James Ellison begins investigating the strange series of deaths that started with Erique Salceda.  The Terminator meets with a scientist and seeks to restore itself.

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“Heavy Metal”

1.4              Heavy Metal Airdate:  02/04/08

John tries to deal with the death of his classmate, and Sarah, John, and Cameron learn that a shipment of metal called coltan used in Terminator manufacturing might be the target of Cromartie.  Finding another Terminator (Brian Bloom) leading the project, John stows away with the coltan as Sarah and Cameron try to track him.  Meanwhile, Agent Ellison tracks the death of a plastic surgeon to an actor named George Lazlo (Garret Dillahunt) who is being targeted by Cromartie for a new identity.

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“Queen’s Gambit”

1.5       Queen’s Gambit Airdate:  02/11/08

Sarah learns that Andy has reconstructed his chess program the Turk and could win a military contract in a contest.  When Andy loses the contest and the computer is stolen, Sarah has a run in with an unnamed man.  At school, John and Cameron begin to make friends and Cameron’s reaction to the suicide catches the attention of the guidance counselor Mr. Harris (Neil Hopkins).  Cameron identifies the man as one of John’s freedom fighters and Sarah, John, and Cameron must free him from jail.  Ellison makes a connection between the man, and the murders he’s investigating and sets out to get the man.  With a Terminator T-888 known as Vick (Matt McColm) out to kill him, Sarah learns the unknown man is John’s father’s brother Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green), but an accidental shooting could kill him unless John can find help from an unlikely source.

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“Dungeons and Dragons”

1.6       Dungeons & Dragon Airdate:  02/18/08

John takes a big risk by calling in Sarah’s ex-fiancé Charley Dixon to help Derek Reese.  As Derek Reese fights for his life, he remembers a failed mission and learning of Skynet’s origins from Andy Goode.  Charley learns the truth about Reese as John debates telling him the truth about what happened to his brother.  Cameron is in charge of destroying the Terminator’s body but hides important information from Sarah as she is sent to retrieve its missing hand.  Charley tells Sarah about the threat from Ellison and Derek recalls his first encounter with Cameron’s model as he received his mission into the past.

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“The Demon Hand”

1.7       The Demon Hand Airdate:  02/25/08

Cameron works to recover the Turk from Andy Goode’s partner and finds she has to join a ballet class to get close to his sister.  Sarah’s attempt to recover the missing hand leads her to Agent Ellison and discovers Ellison has been researching her past.  When John sees a tape from the mental institution of his mother giving him up, John’s perception of his mother changes.  Ellison tries to track down Sarah’s psychiatrist Doctor Peter Stilberman (Bruce Davidson) and finds himself in a dangerous situation.  Derek continues to recover but refuses to work with Cameron.

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“Vick’s Chip”

1.8       Vick’s Chip Airdate:  03/03/08

Derek discovers Cameron has been hiding the processing chip for T-888 known as Vick, and John learns that Cameron lies to him.  When John taps into Vick’s chip to find information on who leaked the location of Derek’s team, he learns Vick was married to a woman named Barbara (Karina Logue) working to create a supercomputer to link the government traffic system.  As Derek and Sarah set out to stop the traffic program, Cameron learns Cromartie is searching the schools for John.

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“What He Beheld”

1.9       What He Beheld Airdate:  03/03/08

John’s birthday is approaching and he doesn’t know if his mother remembers.  Sarah is moving forward to get the Turk back and finds herself the target of a man called Sarkissian.  When Sarkissian (Craig Fairbrass) threatens to expose Sarah, John, and Derek, he must be stopped.  Meanwhile, Ellison has figured out Cromartie is posing as an FBI agent and moves in for the capture.  As Derek reveals he knows the truth about John, Sarah learns that Sarkissian might be smarter than they thought.

Related Links:

The Terminator (1984)

Terminator 2:  Judgment Day (1991)

Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines (2003)

Terminator Salvation (2009)

Terminator Genisys (2015)

Terminator:  The Burning Earth

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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