By Howard Crane
Published October 16, 2018
Filed under TV
Like many, I was predisposed to hate this TV series, but it’s quirky enough that the script and other failings are just plain enraging. If you want to know if this is worth your time, at least read my General Notes.
Before we get into a per-episode nitpick, here are some enraging aspects.
- Sarah’s inner monologues/narrations/dreams are rubbish – purely and simply lazy in writing and stiff in delivery by Lena Headey.
- High School preoccupation – Despite the fact that he knows the near-future is filled with rubble and genocidal robots, John’s really eager to attend high school – even though it’s putting his life in so much danger. As one user review on IMDb pointed out, he’s hardly training to be the saviour of humanity after he gets home and finishes his homework.
- The whimp timeline – People have noticed the series departs from T3 events, almost like its own independent timeline. In this case I call this one “the whimp timeline” where Sarah and John are physically weak, mentally weak, self-destructive morons. They’re not compelling at all – just annoying.
Episode 1 – Pilot
- Dean Winters phoned in the fiancée – He’s been in American Gods, John Wick, Law & Order: SVU, so he’s a good actor, but the way he incredulously got up from the desk and protested seemed more like he was playing a character who was pretending to be incredulous. Maybe he just didn’t think that grammatically nonsensical line they had him say was worth his best effort.
- Why didn’t she scream? – When Sarah was caught by the terminator while she was scoping the school for John, why didn’t she scream while the terminator was imitating her on the mobile phone? She screamed before the phone rang and after he hung up, but not during. It was this scene that bothered me so much I decided to write this article. Maybe you could say the terminator would kill her for screaming, but she was ready to kill herself 10 seconds prior and she’d no longer be of any use alive after John was entrapped. Screaming would have alerted him and given him a chance to flee. I thought Sarah’s main concern was his survival.
- Sarah kept up with two cyborgs – When their terminator was pursuing a skynet terminator, she stole a motorbike and somehow knew where they’d be. Maybe I’m picking holes where I shouldn’t, though. I liked that scene. Particularly because I knew how Sarah would stop the terminator. Didn’t see the clever twist right after that, though!
Bad photoshopped framed picture
- The narration that became a fantasy that became a dream – If only Sarah Connor weren’t busy running from the law. She could help advance neuroscience with these unnaturally linear and detailed dreams she consistently has. I get what the monologue was trying to say, but it sounded like it was written by a 14 year old. And what exactly was going on here? Was she narrating her own dream or were the writers intentionally demolishing the 4th wall and reminding us we’re watching a television program?
- Start as you intend to go on – Before attending their new high school, John says to the terminator (who, by the way, is affectionately named Cameron) to “blend in” and “I mean don’t seem like a freak… you know what I mean”, as if she hadn’t already attended a high school, survived the scrutiny of teenagers, and even fooled John himself. Thankfully there was one writer in the room with average intelligence as Cameron was given the retort “I fooled you.”
- A grudge that costs an apocalypse – Sarah somehow manages to visit the grave of Miles Dyson (inventor of Skynet) at the same time his wife is visiting. She hands her an envelope of photos and asks if she recognises anyone as they may be behind Skynet’s return. Mrs. Dyson is annoyed at this request, looks through them, then says “No.” As Sarah apologises and leaves, she inexplicably changes her mind and identifies one of the men……….. I guess she second-guessed letting the robot holocaust go ahead.
- There’s only one crate of coltan in the world – When they discover a plot to build more terminators by stockpiling coltan in a nuclear blast bunker, they risk life and limb to steal it and dump it in the ocean…. ONE CRATE. I assume they could just get more between then and the next 18 to 20 months before Judgement Day, so what was the bloody point?
Yeah. Okay. To hell with this. I just can’t do this to myself anymore. Normally I’d stick with a show, but it was axed after season 2, suggesting that maybe the network and/or viewers gave it a second chance to not be shit, but it still failed.
A lot of people are angry at this series for “ruining the best sci-fi movie franchise” – but the fact of the matter is that this series was simply under-funded. Terminator 3 and beyond were garbage, too, we just don’t notice because more money per-minute was spent on special effects and writers had a couple of years to tidy up dialogue and plot points in a much shorter story.
Despite bad dialogue and annoying plot points, I award this series with having a more relevant concept behind it. The idea of the Singularity and Transhumanism was handled very well, pointing out the extreme likelihood this transition will not be the paradise awaited by Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk, but a global killing field.