Being a self-proclaimed sci-fi geek, I love the Terminator movies. With three theatrical movies, and a fourth coming in 2009 (Terminator Salvation, starring Christian Bale!), Fox decided to capitalize on the series' success with a spin-off television series. Season 1 of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles began airing in January of 2008, and was recently released on DVD & Blu-ray.
Explaining the TV show requires a bit of backstory from the movies, so here goes...
The Terminator (1984) - In 1997, a computer system called Skynet becomes self-aware, unleashes a nuclear apocalypse on humanity, and builds an army of robots to destroy the few surviving humans that have formed a resistance. The leader of this resistance is John Connor, and under his command they are able to keep humanity alive.
In 2029, Skynet decides to send an indestructible Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in time, to the year 1984, to kill John's mother, Sarah. If they kill Sarah, John will never be born, thus never organizing the resistance. Upon learning of Skynet's plan, the resistance sends one of their own to the year 1984, to protect Sarah from the Terminator. Fortunately, Sarah stays alive and the Terminator is destroyed.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) - It's now 1993. Sarah Connor is in a mental institution for "delusions". John Connor is a rebellious youth, living with foster parents. Skynet decides to send a more advanced Terminator to kill John. Future-John (in 2029) has reprogrammed a T-100 (Arnold) and sent him to 1993 to protect young-John. They bust Sarah out of the institution and destroy Cyberdyne, a company creating robotic endoskeletons (used in the future for the robot armies). This successfully delays the nuclear apocalypse.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) - Forget about this one. Has no correlation with this TV show.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes place in 1997. Sarah & John have been on the run for four years, pursued by the FBI for charges of terrorism. While at school one day, John discovers that his substitute teacher is a Terminator sent back in time to kill him. And guess what?
The resistance has sent a female Terminator named Cameron, played by Summer Glau (best-known for her role in Firefly & Serenity), to protect him. Cameron transports Sarah & John to the year 2007, as that is now the year that Skynet takes over. Agent Ellison of the FBI picks up the case, after it remained stagnant for the previous 10 years.
Sarah, John, & Cameron are on a mission to discover what Skynet is and to destroy it. Turns out that an advanced chess computer, that has garnered military interest, is the prime suspect. As Agent Ellison investigates Sarah's record, including visiting her former psychiatrist from the mental institution, he slowly begins to realize that she wasn't lying. The final episode features an epic battle, to Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around" (one of his last songs, containing many references to the Book of Revelations), which literally gave me goosebumps.
While a bit cheesy at times, as most TV shows are, I found the acting and plot to be top-notch. It was also fascinating to see concepts, never fully explained in the movies, fleshed out. Fans of the Terminator films, good sci-fi, and thought-provoking storylines should definitely check it out!
- EVPL Catalog: Check availability of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles at EVPL libraries.
- Amazon.com: Buy Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on DVD or Blu-ray using this link, and the Public Library Friends will receive a portion of your purchase.
- Internet Movie Database: Find out more about the show at IMDB.
- Fox.com: View the official website of the TV show.