Living the Fictional Dream

Erin M. Kinch’s musings upon the writing profession

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I finished watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles last night (the day after they came out on DVD), and man, this is a really good series! If any of y’all like sci-fi and/or the Terminator movies, you should definitely check this series out!

First of all, the series rocks at continuity. In a world with such complex plotting, it’s amazing how many details they remember. Of course, they made movie 3 obsolete, but no one saw that one anyway, right? And it supposedly sucked (though I actually never saw it, so I can’t say). But, since this is a time travel concept, even rewriting history (or, perhaps future history?) makes sense in the ‘verse.

Second, this series has great characters, and, to me, characters are the most important part of any story. I suppose, on a basic level, the SCC characters are basic sci-fi trope. We have a robot struggling with what it means to be human. There’s an angsty teen who is supposed to grow up to be the “chosen one” (though, not a mystical choosing, like with Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter). There’s a lioness mother struggling to protect her cub, a law enforcement agent who is against us right now but might become our friend in the end, and an embittered soldier in mourning for a lost loved one.

But SCC takes these standard characters and gives them all a fresh feel. Sarah kicks butt and takes names, which is awesome, and yet, she doesn’t like to kill. Derek has a grudge against terminators and possibly a death wish, but there’s a surprising soft side. He’s had some great moments with John, and when he teared up watching Cameron dance… great acting! Cameron has more depth than either Data or the Voyager holographic doctor had at the beginning of the series. She is a strange combination of mystery (what is she doing? whose side is she on?), humanity (feeling like making conversation is the thing to do, appreciating ballet), and machine (killing or allowing humans to die). And John, while he has those whiney teenaged moments, he often surpases them, and that future greatness glimmers underneath all the while.

These characters really do make SCC a great show. Anyone can take an element and tell a story about it — the thing is to give those elements their own skins, their own personalities. It’s the trappings that make a story unique, because there are only so many plots out there in the world. It’s a testiment to the series that it’s this good and, really, it has nearly the same plot (at least at a concept level) as the second movie!

And, of course, I love a show where female characters get to be strong fighters. That always rocks! If you haven’t watched this show yet, if you can get your hands on the DVDs, you should definitely give it a try. The first season was only nine episodes thanks to the writers’ strike, so you can even watch it now and be done in time for the 9/9/08 premier of season two!

6 Comments so far

  1. Rick Boyer August 21st, 2008 11:50 am

    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

  2. emkinch August 21st, 2008 4:49 pm

    Awesome. Thanks so much!

  3. Alexander Burns August 21st, 2008 7:49 pm

    I also enjoy the SSC. My one hang-up is that Sarah herself isn’t quite crazy enough. Something that really intrigued me about the second movie was how far over the edge she’d been pushed. She was obsessed with something that was, to everyone around her, absolutely impossible. The dark side we saw of her in T2 was a fascinating take on the hero. That’s been lost with the series in an attempt to make her more palatable and empathetic, I think. They make up for it a bit with the Uncle, though. His addition to the cast was a big plus.

    The season finale was awesome.

  4. emkinch August 22nd, 2008 5:55 am

    I had noticed that difference, as well. I was thinking that maybe she’s a little less dark now because at the end of T2 she thought they’d succeeded. Sure, they still had to worry about the cops and she still had Terminator nightmares, but in her conscious mind, she thought they’d stopped Judgment Day, so she was able to swing back a bit more toward the normal.

    Then again, maybe they just thought a whole series with a main character THAT dark would be too hard to watch.

  5. kcball August 25th, 2008 2:52 am

    Dark characters can be fun, though. SCC is one of three shows that has pulled me back to watching television, after swearing, after Firefly got dumped, never to watch commercial TV ever again.

    One of the other two shows I have been watching was introduced last season, too, and it features a female lead with a dark edge. It’s Saving Grace,with Holly Hunter. One of my favorite character actors, Leon Rippy, plays Earl, a tobacco-chewing angel sent to Oklahoma City to pull Grace Hanadarko, Hunter’s character, back from the brink of self-destruction.

    The third show now on my must-see list is Primeval, on BBC America. Time rifts and dinosaurs and a hero with a Scottish accent so thick you could slice it like haggis. There have only been three episodes so far, but it’s got a Doctor Who feel to it with pretty fair production values — for British television. Oh, and it’s got a female supporting character so dark she doesn’t give a fig if the entire human race goes extinct.

  6. emkinch August 25th, 2008 7:56 am

    After Firefly got pulled, I vowed never to watch FOX again, but… they keep coming out with such good stuff. Wonderfalls, Drive, Bones… of course, Bones is the only one they let continue any length of time. :-P After Drive a re-vowed to watching nothing else but Bones on FOX… and then I heard that the new Joss/Eliza show is going to be on FOX. Arg!!!

    Dark characters can definitely be fascinating! I may have to check Primeval out! Sounds interesting… Love me a Scottish accent! :-)

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