Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Morning Terminatoring

UPDATE: 1/15/08
Okay, we watched the first regular episode last night, and it was disappointing. When even The Kid starts calling out plot twists before they happen, the writers are getting lazy and formulaic. His current theory is that the guy Sarah dumped in the pilot turns out to be the missing fourth member of the resistance team that was sent back through time to help them, and I have to second that guess.

Now, a terminator disguised as an overweight hispanic gang member covered with tats: that would have been creative. Ain't likely to happen, though. Instead, it looks like, as Bane said, this series is going to be Terminator: The Chick Flick, cross-cut with Dawson's Creek.

Didn't South Park do that one already?

A final thought: one thing that really bugged me in the pilot was the repeat of the "I'm trapped in a hopeless situation so I'm going to shoot myself" bit that was already used once or twice before in the movies. Now, it just so happens that I'm currently reading A Proud American, the autobiography of Medal of Honor winner and former South Dakota governor Joe Foss (Hmm, a great fighter and leader? Where have I heard that before?), and not once so far has Foss put a .45 to his own head and threatened to shoot himself if he didn't get his way.

Are Hollywood writers really such a bunch of passive-aggressive drama queens that they can't think of any other way for their hero to respond to a desperate situation other than to blow his or her own brains out? Or are they simply projecting their own despair at being under contract to write this mess?

All right, show of hands. Who here will admit to having watched Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles last night?

Now, who will admit to actually having been worried that the Cowboys-Giants game might go into overtime, thereby causing Fox to truncate or delay the premiere of T:TSCC?

Good. Admission is the first step in coming to grips with your geekdom.

At this point, I don't have a lot to say about the series. I've long since learned not to judge a TV show by the pilot that sold it to the network. A pilot is kind of like a first date; it's the second date that gives you a real clue where the relationship is going.

That said, it is nice to see Summer Glau working again. I've missed her kinda cute but utterly vacant face since Firefly was canceled. She really should start looking for other roles besides the 90-pound pixie who can throw around men three times her size, though. That shtick just isn't going to work when she's 40.

I liked the way they established the color-coding scheme. Okay, we now know that Terminators are like Jedi: the good ones have blue eye-glow and evil ones have red eye-glow. That'll save us a lot of time in future episodes. I also liked the way they used the time travel gimmick to break out of being stuck in the 1990s and establish a new continuity, and I liked the Max Headroomish retro-future "21st century tech built with 1963 parts" look of the time machine, for the fifteen seconds it was on-screen.

But other than that: okay, so in the future, John Connor will be the leader of the worldwide resistance and last, best hope of humankind, etc., etc., blah blah blah. It sure would be nice to see some evidence that he's at least capable of becoming that sort of person, and not merely a whining and self-pitying puddle of teenage snot being buffeted about by an inexorable fate.

For possible insight I turned to this interview with former local lad John Wirth, who's a writer/producer on T:TSCC. But he's on strike, so nothing much there.

Your thoughts and comments?