Terminator spin-off lives into the fall

by Paul William Tenny

I just spent half an hour writing down some of my thoughts on the Sarah Connor Chronicles (SCC) after news broke that Fox has officially picked up the troubled series for another season -- if 13 episodes is what counts as a season these days. Seems like it does, and to think I used to mock the UK for doing that. We better not start calling seasons 'series' too, or I'm moving.

So what the hell is bothering me about SCC today? The show has problems and normally shows that have problems don't get better, they just kind of puke up blood, roll over, and then die. That is where SCC is in my mind and where it's heading, and Josh Friendman's plan to get the show on track is as full of fail as it is typical: more action baby!
Given the choice between the two matters of last resort: action and sex, I'd really prefer the latter if I had to pick one. Call me sexist if you want, but the first two Terminator films weren't great because of action, they were great because they were just plain awesome stories told by one of the best in the business in James Cameron. Friedman's crew isn't on that level so all that leaves is sex so if you're going to roll around in the gutter, you might as well enjoy yourself down there, am I right?

That's the kind of absurd situation we're in though. It's not surprising in the least, more sex and more action are the first two quick-fixes that every network exec loves -- there must be some booklet they all carry around that only has one page in it -- and the only other possible step in their limited imaginations is to fire the showrunner. In some cases that might be the right choice, but seriously, after the boondoggle that was Bionic Woman and all the other plentiful examples over the past couple of years where a showrunner merry-go-round has always resulted in a ratings plummet and eventual cancellation, would it really hurt to think outside of the box for once?

I credit Fox with having the guts to stick with this one for more than five minutes -- oh look, shiny! -- but I can't not point out the obvious poor choice with which to take a stand against the critics and audiences in general. Firefly is universally loved by everyone that has ever seen it -- there are no exceptions unless you're talking about people who aren't right in the head to begin with -- but it got dumped without a second thought. It's almost like there's a flow chart hanging on the wall somewhere deep in the bowels of Fox that looks like this:

Is the show ratings challenged? Yes. -> Is it bad? Yes. -> Add 1 season and continue cooking.

Is the show ratings challenged? Yes. -> Is it good? Yes. -> Throw it away.

Is the show ratings challenged? No. -> Screw with it anyway? You bet!

So we've got fairly cardboard characters and no intention to add depth. Arnold Schwarzenegger's character was as bland as Summer Glau's is, and yet those two have are inspiring more emotion than anybody else does. Every episode has felt repetitive and that doesn't figure to get any better. I love the addition of Kyle Reese and most people seem to agree that he adds some depth that was sorely missing, and I'm happy to see he's been upped to series regular for the fall -- great choice.

I don't know, I've got very mixed feelings on the show because only one or two episodes really showed me something while the rest were just awful. Friedman and his crew have got to step up their game or this thing with only 7-8 million viewers and falling every single week is going to burn.
in Television


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