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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season(TV) (2008)
The time: today. The stakes: all our tomorrows. A nascent AI, assisted by droids, continues to edge toward world domination and the ruin of humankind. It accepts no limits. It fears no one. Except John Connor. The machines know John, now 16, is the future head of the resistance. They know he is growing in abilities. They must find and terminate him. But Sarah Connor is there, protecting and instructing her son as he becomes the man he’s destined to be. The hunt is on in a season of powerful revelations, breathless pursuits and bravura effects.
For more about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season and the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 21, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Thomas Dekker, Lena Headey, Summer Glau, Richard T. Jones, Brian Austin Green, Garret Dillahunt
Director: Guy Norman Bee
» See full cast & crew
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
One of the silver screen's most successful franchises turns to prime time television to continue its legacy.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 21, 2008
They will keep coming for him, trying to kill him, but until that day...it's going to be one hell of a dogfight.
With an estimated budget of only $6,400,000, James Cameron's influential 1984 Science Fiction film The Terminator pulled off a hard-to-beat trifecta. The Terminator became a cult phenomenon. Almost a quarter-century after its release, it is hailed as one of the better Science Fiction/Action films of all time, one that launched a franchise that continues to grow. The film also solidified the career of its director, and launched its star, Arnold Schwarzengger (End of Days), into a career as a true action hero. Both director and star achieved unfathomable success through the remainder of the 1980s and beyond. The duo would again pair up for 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a huge box office success and special-effects extravaganza that was, at the time, the most expensive film ever produced. It still holds up remarkably well even by today's technologically-advanced standards. A third sequel, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, proved a financial success, but received mixed reviews from longtime fans of the franchise. Now, Fox and Warner Brothers have teamed up to create a television show that fills in the story line between the second and third films. "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles" fleshes out backstories and weaves new characters and plot devices into the Terminator lore; it ties up loose ends, but also engenders a series of new questions that may be resolved in the show's second season (which begins airing on Fox on September 8, 2008). Meanwhile, as we consider the television series that falls on a time plane between the second and third films, a fourth feature-length film in the Terminator franchise is set to premiere in 2009, starring Christian Bale (Batman Begins).
Beginning in the year 1999, we find Sarah and John Connor (Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker) living in small-town Nebraska. The duo are always on the run, trusting few others so as to ensure John's safety, and avoid unwanted attention and the authorities. Sarah, now engaged to an EMT named Charley Dixon (Dean Winters), suddenly insists that she and John again begin to run, this time to New Mexico. Once settled, John begins attending school where he meets Cameron (Summer Glau), an advanced model of Terminator sent from the future to protect him. It doesn't take long for her to spring into action when a Terminator model T-888 called "Cromartie," programed to kill John, infiltrates the school. (Cromartie is portrayed by Owain Yeoman in episode one and Garret Dillahunt in later episodes; the transition of actors does make sense in the context of the show). With Cameron's help, John barely escapes Cromartie. Now acting as a newly-formed trio of Sarah, John, and Cameron, the heroes decide not to run yet again, but to face head-on another adversary, SkyNet, the computer system responsible for the coming nuclear holocaust and subsequent war between man and machine. Seemingly destroying Cromartie moments before time-traveling ahead to the year 2007, John, Sarah, and Cameron begin their quest to destroy SkyNet once and for all. To do so, they'll need to get close to one of Miles Dyson's (the man responsible for SkyNet in T2) favorite interns, Andy Goode (Brendan Hines), who has invented "The Turk," a sophisticated chess-playing computer that itself may be the foundation for SkyNet. Meanwhile, Cromartie, in one of the most fascinating arcs in the series, returns to life to continue his hunt for John Connor. The heroes must also deal with a zealous FBI agent named James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) who is looking to bring Sarah to justice but finds more and more evidence that her story about a shocking and deadly future may be true. Throughout the season, other notable characters from the films make an appearance, as does a man, played by Brian Austin Green, who has close ties to Sarah's and John's past and future.
"Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles" works on several levels, among them the attention to minute detail and bringing recurring themes, objects, and lines of dialogue into the series that ties it in with the first two Terminator films, notably T2. Longtime fans of the films will certainly get the most out of this series, and the more intimately familiar you are with them, the more this show makes sense and the more you come to realize just how much care and attention to detail is evident throughout. While watching the entire nine episodes, I made note of numerous similarities and themes shared between the first season of the television program and the motion pictures, as well as tributes the series pays to its big-screen predecessors. Fans can expect: to hear Terminators mimicking voices; a Terminator using the "come with me if you want to live" line; a gas station scene where John and a Terminator share a moment about being more human; we'll see Miles Dyson's son, Danny, again walking down the hall playing with electronics, this time an MP3 player rather than a remote-controlled car; we will see the trio of Sarah, John, and a Terminator at a garage where Sarah will have a wound fixed by the Terminator, who will stand watch at a window all night long; Sarah will be seen performing pull-ups, much like she did to stay fit in her room at Pescadero; there is a reference to "a storm coming" as there was at the end of The Terminator; we will see Sarah disassembling and cleaning an AR-15 as she did at Enrique's in T2; the motif of the swing set returns in this show; dialogue from the sessions at Pescadero are re-recorded word-for-word from T2, this time with Lena Headey delivering the lines; and the first shot in the entire show is of a dark highway at night, another recurring theme from T2. At first, much of what I saw seemed to be a re-imaging of T2, but the longer you watch the show and allow it to permeate your consciousness and to establish itself in Terminator lore, these similarities simply reinforce the television show's place in the canon and there is no doubt that fans will be ecstatic to see such careful attention to detail throughout the show.
Perhaps the most jarring aspect of watching "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles" is the acceptance of new actors in the roles of our favorite characters. John Connor, who was only seen in the last two films, never presented an issue thanks to the age gap of the character between the two films. Likewise, Sarah Connor appeared in only the first two films, and despite an impressive physical transformation on the part of actress Linda Hamilton and the character's new outlook on and approach towards life, the transition was seamless thanks both the presence of Hamilton and the context of the story. Dr. Silberman, the only character to appear in every Terminator film and now in the television show, is also recast. Accepting a new actress in place of Hamilton, a new actor for Silberman, and a third actor to portray John Connor is a hard sale for Terminator die-hards. John Connor is the easier of the two to replace. I was especially pleased with Nick Stahl's performance in T3, and the casting department did well in bringing in Dekker, who resembles Stahl physically and retains the characteristics of the John Connor character nicely. Both Headey as Sarah Connor and Bruce Davison as Dr. Silberman bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the show, but no matter how you slice it, after almost 25 years of envisioning nobody by Linda Hamilton and Earl Boen in the roles, these new actors take some getting used to. Fortunately, thanks to the show's unflinching, no-compromise take on the franchise where nothing but the faces of the characters have been changed, the generally engaging story lines and the strong performances from these lead characters will help audiences come to accept these new actors. Perhaps by the end of season two, names such as Headey, Dekker, Glau, Green, Davison, and Yeoman will be as memorable to Terminator fans as Hamilton, Stahl, Furlong, Schwarzenegger, Patrick, and Boen.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" arrives on Blu-ray with a nice looking 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer that brings the show to Blu-ray in the same ratio in which it originally aired. This transfer is good one, sporting an image that does just about everything right but doesn't leap off the screen the same way something like Saawariya or even "Prison Break" manages to. The transfer fluctuates between a clean, "normal" look to the occasional (and intentionally) grainy appearance that accompanies harsh action sequences throughout the show. Such heavy-on-the-grain instances come far and few between, however, and anyone opposed to an abundance of grain should not find it bothersome (not to mention that it's there due to artistic intent). Flesh tones vary from slightly red or orange to natural but generally look good. Detail is fairly high throughout every episode. The scene in episode two where Cameron speaks with a local cop, who thinks the car she is leaning on may be stolen, sports true-to-life detail and clarity, fine color reproduction, and a nice depth that brings the scene to life. As good as this particular scene looks, and many like it throughout the season look just as good, rarely does the image jump off the screen like the above-mentioned titles do. Nevertheless, the scene embodies most of the best qualities to be found on the disc. One quality that is not present in the scene, which is otherwise present throughout, is fine black levels. They are a nice true black that never falters in any of the episodes. Minute detail is impressive, too. Watch the chess match scene in episode five. For the brief time we see them, the pieces appear handsomely detailed. Facial detail is notably good, too, as characters never appear to be airbrushed or waxy in appearance, and all of the facial hair and other nuances are clearly visible, especially on Brian Austin Green's character. Warner has done commendable work on this release. It's not the most stunning collection of discs you'll ever see, but it's a more-than-solid release that should please both fans and newcomers to the series.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner Brothers sends "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" to Blu-ray with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is no lossless or uncompressed soundtrack to be found, a true shame for a high-octane, action-oriented program such this one. The track provided is more than adequate, however, hitting all the right notes and conveying the story and every action piece with nice clarity and an appropriate oomph during all the action sequences. Themes from Brad Fiedel's memorable score are here, but the soundtrack doesn't simply reproduce the music from the film. Rather, this made-for-television series creates it's own unique sonic signature, which works for a six and one-half hour long television program. It definitely says Terminator in every note and is reproduced well enough on this disc. Bass is good throughout, from the more mundane lows during the music, to the exciting action sequences where the subwoofer has an opportunity to stretch its legs and impress. Clocking in at 392 minutes, this show cannot offer wall-to-wall action, and as such the majority of the time is spent on plot and character development which is mostly dialogue-driven. This is one of the strong suits of the series' audio presentation. Dialogue is occasionally muffled under music and effects, but the vast majority is presented cleanly from the center channel with no distortions of any kind. Surrounds are not actively employed in every scene, but they do swell with the film's percusion-heavy score and numerous action sequences. Episode six, "Dungeons and Dragons," is the most lively of the season. The episode flashes forward for us, but serves as a flash back for a character who relives key moments from the future war against the machines. These scenes put your sound system to the test and offer the best overall moments of audio in the set as bass positively rumbles and the action permeates the entirety of the soundstage. "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" offers listeners a perfectly acceptable soundtrack, but it seems just a bit more laid back than one might expect of a high-caliber action show, and it lacks the crispness and attention to fine detail high definition tracks offer.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" comes to Blu-ray with a nice array of extra features spread across all three discs. The following is a breakdown of what you can expect from each disc.
Disc one begins with two commentary tracks, one for Pilot and one for The Turk. On Pilot, fans can hear from writer/producer Josh Friedman, producer James Middleton, director David Nutter, and actress Summer Glau. This track combines some lighthearted anecdotes from the set (including the inclement weather that hindered the filming of this episode) with some insight into the gravity and meaning of the story. The track for The Turk again features writer/producer Josh Friedman, this time accompanied by writer John Wirth and actors Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker. This track, too, combines the technical with the playful as the participants giggle as much as they provide pertinent information. You'll oftentimes hear them speaking over one another resulting in a jumbled track with little substance. Six deleted scenes (480p, 10:46) are next, five from Pilot and one from The Turk. Creating the Chronicles is a three-part feature that delves into the making of various aspects of the show. First is Re-Boot (1080p, 16:44). Here, we learn about the show's creators' diligence in making the show as true to the Terminator franchise as possible. Future War (1080p, 10:26) looks at the episode Dungeons and Dragons, the episode that partially takes place in the future during the war against the machines. The Demon Hand (1080p, 11:57) looks at the risks the episode took in building on one of the important plot points of Terminator lore. Finally, a gag reel (480p, 3:35) is included.
Disc two begins with one deleted scene (480p, 2:04) from the episode Dungeons and Dragons. Cast Audition Tapes features a look at the audition for three actors -- Lena Headey (480p, 4:19), Thomas Dekker (480p, 2:29), and Richard T. Jones (480p, 4:30). Summer Glau Dance Rehearsal (480p, 1:40) is a throwaway feature that shows the actress practicing for her ballet sequences. Finally, Storyboard Animatic (480p, 3:25) shows viewers the hand-drawn storyboards for the school attack sequence from the first episode.
Beginning the supplements on this final disc is a commentary track for the episode What He Beheld featuring writer/producer Josh Friedman, writer Ian Goldberg, and actors Summer Glau and Brian Austin Green. This is another track that combines throwaway stories from the set, discussions about the characters and their various acting abilities in the episode, and some technical details about the production and script ideas that didn't make it into the final draft. This disc also contains an alternate version of the episode The Demon Hand that "includes filmed footage that was not aired due to time constraints and represents a work in progress with unfinished sound, music, and visual effects." Two deleted scenes (480p, 7:14) from The Demon Hand conclude this set's supplemental features.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" is great television and a must-watch for fans of the Terminator franchise. The show accomplished exactly what it needed to do -- keep in tune with the legacy of the films by building on the story and its characters and including many subtleties in every episode to ensure that it stayed true to established canon. The show also introduces new, important, and well-written characters that fit in well with lore and who themselves will likely go down in Terminator history as characters just as pivotal to the story as everyone we've met in the films. Warner Brothers' release of "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" on Blu-ray is a solid effort that could have been better. The picture quality is nothing to brag about, but it's certainly very good. Most fans will be disappointed with the studio's failure to include a lossless or uncompressed high definition surround sound audio option, but the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is no slouch itself. The set is nicely rounded out by a good helping of extra materials. Considering the low price and the quality of the show, this set comes recommended and is a must-buy for fans of the Terminator franchise.
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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - August 19th - August 19, 2008
The Terminator Series has become one of the most successful sci-fi film series ever. With three films in the bag, and a forth in production, it was almost inevitable that someone would try bringing the time-traveling death machine to network TV. Fortunately, the ...
• Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Announced for Blu-ray - May 20, 2008
In somewhat of a surprise announcement from Warner, the studio has set 'Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season' for Blu-ray release on August 19th. Debuting day-and-date with the DVD version, this Blu-ray edition will feature all ...
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