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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2009)
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 hes 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 Second Season and the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
Starring: Thomas Dekker, Lena Headey, Summer Glau, Richard T. Jones, Brian Austin Green, Garret Dillahunt
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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
This second -- and final -- season of 'Terminator' TV further expands on the franchise's fascinating timeline.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 9, 2009
This has to end here.
With the cutthroat world of network television programming comes the inevitable barrage of cancellations that cite floundering ratings and ignore the outcry of a vocal fan base that do everything but storm the network headquarters with torches and pitchforks in hopes of bringing their favorite show back for one more go-ground. For every successful fan campaign that returns to the air an abandoned favorite ("Family Guy"), there are dozens of others that fade none-too-quietly into the night, never to be heard from again save for the occasional spin of "Firefly" or "Enterprise" in disillusioned fans' home theaters. One such recent victim of ye olde network axe is "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," the highly anticipated spin-off series from what is now a quartet of motion pictures. Foregoing the obvious "terminated" joke, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" played to dwindling audiences over its all-too-brief two-season run, bottoming out in its final handful of episodes and never to recover.
Picking up exactly where season one left off, season two of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" returns the primary cast of characters as they attempt to rescue a future that's in a state of constant upheaval due to the unpredictable and ever-shifting balance-of-power in the present. FBI agent Ellison's (Richard T. Jones) life has been spared by Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt), a Terminator model T-888 sent back in time to, yet again, attempt to murder John Connor (Thomas Dekker) before he grows into the man destined to lead the human resistance against the machines. Meanwhile, Sarah (Lena Headey), John, and Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) survive a scare from a malfunctioning Cameron (Summer Glau), an advanced Terminator sent back through time to serve as John's protector. With Cameron repaired, the team settles in for the long battle ahead but attempts to regain a sense of normalcy, a futile effort in the face of an ever-dangerous present and a deadly future. John returns to school where he meets Riley (Leven Rambin), a young girl that begins to fall for him despite his quirky ways and oddball mother and "sister" that seem determined to micromanage his life. Sarah continues in her pursuit of the "Turk," an advanced computer system that's believed to be the foundation for SkyNet, the system at the center of the rise of the machines and catalyst for the nuclear war, "Judgment Day," that's yet to come. The group also begins work on saving lives and decoding clues left behind by a mortally wounded time-traveling soldier who gave his life in hopes of preventing SkyNet from further altering the past to its advantage. Fighting to prevent the war and destroy SkyNet before it becomes self-aware, the heroes wage an incessant battle where future and present collide, destinies take shape, and a war that seems certain to doom mankind lingers on the horizon as the world's fate hangs on the shoulders of a troubled mother, a confused son, a haunted warrior, and a soulless machine.
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" works thanks to its ability to weave an extended tale that fits naturally into franchise lore. Not only does the show cover the series' fundamental ideas and story arcs -- characters fighting to save mankind from annihilation at the hands of machines while on the run from relentless killers from the future -- but it simultaneously charts new ground and pays homage to its predecessors throughout the series. Longtime series fans will recognize lines of dialogue and props that hearken back to the original films in scenes that seem eerily similar to what's found in James Cameron's movies but manage to at the same time create their own identity within Terminator legend. "Call to him," demands a Terminator of Sarah Connor as it pursues her son John, a line straight out of T2's climax. In another episode, a Terminator is seen methodically murdering everyone in the phone book named "Martin Bedell," using a long slide .45 semi-automatic pistol with a large attached sight, the weapon almost identical to that carried by the T-800 Terminator and used to kill innocent women named "Sarah Connor" in the series' first film. Such small details reveal the filmmakers' passion for the series and their insistence on making "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" not a fly-by-night rip-off but instead a coherent and cohesive companion piece to the original collection of films that aims to fill in some gaps while retaining the same basic principles that made James Cameron's films legends of modern cinema.
Behind the action and special effects that superficially define the series lies what always has and still today makes the Terminator universe work: its people. Through the convoluted story arcs, ever-shifting timelines, the fuzzy future, and the violence-ridden present, the franchise's true strength lies in its ability to paint its characters not as superheroes but instead as everyday people hardened by the realities of the destinies they have yet to embrace but understand they cannot escape. John and Sarah do not face the future sitting idly by and waiting for time to shape their fates. Sarah Connor's motto -- "there is no fate but what we make for ourselves" -- represents a philosophy carried through the entire series on both the big and small screens. Although that doctrine's preamble, "the future is not set," refers not to the possibility that the heroes can prevent Judgment Day but instead merely alter its course, they continue to fight onward through a darkened highway at night, determined to shape the world and the battlefields both present and future to their advantage. The Terminator franchise -- and season two of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" in particular -- continues the series down that impossibly dark highway that represents a future that with every passing moment alters not the end destination but the journey itself. Judgment Day looms; where, when, how, and why, nobody knows, but that once straight highway is now curved and looped, covered in the blood of heroes and villains that work tirelessly to alter its course for only the hope of cheating future's fate in its ever-shifting past.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" arrives on Blu-ray with a quality 1080p transfer framed inside its broadcast-original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The show delivers a consistently glossy image that produces nice results but takes on a typical high definition TV appearance that looks a bit flat but nevertheless adequately colorful and detailed. Human faces don't feature astounding definition in tight shots, but their somewhat smooth appearance doesn't completely eliminate fine pores, scars, and facial hairs that often manage to stand out nicely and appear almost as crisp and well-defined as those in some of Blu-ray's better film-like transfers. Fine object detail in other areas impresses as well. Viewers will be privy to fine scratches and dents on automobile paint jobs; wear, tear, and weld marks on industrial machinery; rust on Mexican prison jail cell bars; and impressive detail and texture in several makeup and special effects-laden shots, whether superficial wounds on character faces or the rubble that makes up the occasional flash-forward future war segments. Solid colored backgrounds, particularly whites, reveal a bit of noise, but otherwise the image retains a fairly smooth appearance. Neither black levels nor flesh tones offer any overly problematic issues, and post-production anomalies, such as edge enhancement, are kept to a minimum. "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" makes for a fine looking Blu-ray on the whole, despite a slightly processed appearance and glossy sheen.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like season one, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" arrives on Blu-ray with but a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack; no lossless or uncompressed option is available. On the whole, there are no major complaints to speak of, aside from the lack of a superior audio option. While this isn't the fullest or most dynamic soundtrack, it's suitably good for the show's style that mixes action with drama. Highlighted by its many action segments, season two delivers crashes, gunfire, and explosions that are far from puny but certainly don't rock the soundstage with pinpoint precision or eardrum-shattering levels of bass. There are some fine immersive and directional sound effects to be found throughout. Flashbacks scenes to the future war in episode five, for instance, create a nice, hearty, realistic 360-degree field with the sound of crumbling concrete, distant gunfire, and the general din of war in the background. Nevertheless, the track doesn't always deliver a lifelike ambience even when presented with an opportune example to do so. Several dialogue-heavy scenes in crowded locales feature a fair bit of ambience in the front but the rear channels remain virtually silent. The track does deliver consistently strong dialogue reproduction. Though not the finest soundtrack on the market and disappointingly lacking a lossless option, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" nevertheless delivers a suitable listen that gets the job done.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" features bonus materials spread across all five discs in this set. Below is a disc-by-disc breakdown of what Warner has included.
Disc one features a pair of commentary tracks, the first for the episode Samson and Delilah and featuring Executive Producer Josh Friedman and Actors Lena Heady, Thomas Dekker, Summer Glau, and Sirley Manson. Commentary track two, available on Allison from Palmdale, features Executive Producers Josh Friedman, James Middleton, and John Wirth, and Actors Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau. Also included is The Storyboard Process: Cameron Goes Bad (1080i, 2:55), a brief piece that looks at the importance of storyboards to the filmmaking process, including a side-by-side storyboard vs. final product comparison.
While none of the five episodes found on disc two sport a commentary track, the disc does offer two "Terminated Scenes," one each for the episodes The Tower is Tall but the Fall is Short (1080p, 1:04) and Complications (1080p, 0:26). Also included here under the "Behind the Story" heading is Cameron vs. Rosie: Fight Rehearsal (1080i, 5:27), an informative piece that looks at the process of bringing this fight sequence to life, featuring raw behind-the-scenes footage, interview clips with the crew, and storyboard analysis.
Only a pair of "Terminated Scenes" for Strange Things Happen at the One-Two Point (1080p, 0:50) and Earthlings Welcome Here (1080p, 1:04) are included on disc three.
Like disc three, disc four features only a collection of "Terminated Scenes," this time one from Today is the Day -- Part 1 (1080p, 1:19) and four from Today is the Day -- Part 2 (1080p, 2:50 combined).
Disc five contains the bulk of the supplementary material, headlined by another pair of commentary tracks. Track one, accompanying Adam Raised a Cain, features Executive Producers Josh Friedman, James Middleton, and John Wirth, and Actors Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau. The second track with the same participants is available for the series finale episode Born to Run. Collision With the Future: Deconstructing the Hunter Killer Attack (1080i) is an interactive piece that takes viewers on an in-depth tour of the many layers of work that came together to create the season's climactic sequence. Viewers may choose from one of four boxes -- one each for "Production," "Direction," "Special FX," and "Visual FX" -- from a main menu that features all four pieces playing simultaneously with an overlaying commentary with Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Josh Friedman. The Continuing Chronicles: Terminator is a collection of eight featurettes presented in 1080i high definition: Write the Future (12:39), Conceptualization (8:18), Blood and Metal (7:39), Designing Deconstruction (7:32), Choreographing Chaos (7:21), War Stories (9:15), Setting the Tempo (13:15), and Motivations (9:51). Rounding out disc five are three "Terminated Scenes" -- two for To the Lighthouse (1080p, 0:43 & 1:32) and one for Born to Run (1080p, 0:27) -- and a gag reel (1080p, 6:04).
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" doesn't set a new standard for television greatness, but this second season proves a worthy entry for both the show and the Terminator universe. Always fascinating, well-scripted, soundly acted, and featuring plenty of nods to the films while also establishing its own lore that fits snugly into the world first envisioned by James Cameron more than a quarter century ago, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" makes for good, fast-paced television that, while catered to established Terminator fans, also works for television enthusiasts in search of an exciting and thoroughly conceived and smartly-executed show. Warner Brothers' Blu-ray release of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 2" is a solid effort. Unfortunately, the series once again arrives on Blu-ray with no lossless soundtrack, but the set does feature an above-average 1080p picture quality and a solid selection of bonus materials. Recommended.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Other Seasons
Blu-ray bundles with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season (1 bundle)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sarah Connor Chronicles Season Two Detailed for Blu-ray - June 9, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles The Complete Second Season' to Blu-ray on September 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. All 22 episodes will be presented in 1.78:1 1080p VC-1 accompanied by a ...
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