Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [2008-2009] 2 Seasons. 31 Episodes


How do you turn one of 2008’s most highly rated series into 2009’s ash heap of a failure?  Change it from what people want to see into something they obviously did not.  The show would have been more aptly named, “The Chronically Depressed Chronicles”.

She is good looking, in shape and can shoot the chips out of a "T-888" at 50 meters.

Lena Headey: She is good looking, in shape and can shoot the chips out of a "T-triple-eight" at 50 meters. If only the writers let her...

Why was it so popular at first?  Hot mom Lena Headey wielding shotguns and taking names.  Fetching Summer Glau as a terminator, throwing around the bad guys.  The action was fast and fun.  Mother and son John Connor actually liked each other, and together they were taking down Skynet.

"Okay summer.  Give us your usual dazed and distant 'I am a machine' look."

Terminator Cameron: "Okay Summer. Give us your usual dazed and distant 'I am a machine' look."

After the world’s longest shark jumping, season two was everything the first season was not, and more.  Less action, horrible morbid stories, budget-less “ship-trek” episodes, and nobody liked anybody.  Even the addition of the Derek Reese character for some much needed testosterone was not enough.

Derek Reese:  "Although I am not as cool as my brother Kyle, I can help out this show for a little while (until the writers pointlessly kill me off).

Derek Reese: "Although I am not as cool as my brother Kyle, I can help out this show for a little while (until the writers pointlessly kill me off)."

Sarah and her son grew to totally dislike each other and every scene with them together was like waiting for your on-edge parents to argue.  There were dislike triangles,… quadrangles even!  In the future, all emotions are bad?  Did not Michael Beign’s awesome Kyle Reese show us in the original Terminator how much heart a human can have?

John Connor, wiener:  Does he look like an ungrateful, whiny punk?  Get a comb brat.

John Connor, wiener: Does he look like an ungrateful, whiny punk? Get a comb brat.

Season 2 started off at about a 50/50 ratio of decent episodes versus lame.  Then about half way through they totally went off their meds and it became some producer’s personal means of therapy.  Entire episodes of self-important, slow paced, introspective, monotoned treatises on fate while other characters wandered around in pointless subplots.

Charley:  "I just found out that my pointless sub-plot in this pointless show is ending.  I can make it back to the "Rescue Me" set by 4."

Dean Winters as Charley: "I just found out that my pointless sub-plot in this pointless show is ending. I can make it back to the "Rescue Me" set by 4."

The main plot went from “Stop Skynet!” to some convoluted, angst-filled talk fest that over the course of the season killed off one character after another.  They introduced the fine female specimen Stephanie Jacobsen to spice up the boredom.  It worked – for the first few episodes, until they even made her scenes excruciating.

Jesse:  So how many more episodes until I get pointlessly killed off?  Sheesh, I better call my agent.  BTW, see how hot I am?"

Stephanie Jacobsen as Jesse: "So how many more episodes until I get pointlessly killed off? Sheesh, I better call my agent. BTW, see how hot I am?"

You have to wonder how mankind ever wins because the show has been 90% running, losing, dying and being one step behind the machines.  We even flash to the future for more interesting ways to make depressing story lines and deaths.  This including a hapless crew sacrificing a nuclear sub only to watch the liquid metal terminator squirm away.  That was (not ) satisfying.

"No matter what we do, the future still sucks..."

"No matter what we do, the future still sucks..."

I do not even know what the goal of this show was anymore, aside from teasing me with potential it never reaches.  The world is doomed and now it cannot be stopped.  John Connor is a jerk, Kyle Resse’s brother is growing less likable, other people from the future are jerks, and the machines have no end of units.   Additionally, Sarah is under a cancer death sentence and the hottie terminator is a loose cannon.  Zero fun.

Riley:  "Don't forget me, I'm from the future too.  Don't you like my outfit?  Brown, teal, blue and black go great together."

"Don't forget me, I'm from the future too. Don't you like my outfit? Brown, teal, blue and black go great together." Riley SHOULD have been killed off sooner.

Remember the days when time travel was something special?  Well those days are gone.  It seems everyone and their machine can strip off their clothes and span the time and space continuum.  It might as well have been a high school exchange program for its frequency and apparent ease.

"Thank you for participating in the Time Travel Exchange Program.  Do not bother emptying your pockets, your clothes will soon be gone."

"Thank you for participating in the Time Travel Exchange Program. Do not bother emptying your pockets, your clothes will soon be gone."

Is it even worth making a one sentence summary?  Young future leader John Connor is an unlikeable jerk who along with his moody mom and a psycho terminator guide us through long stretches of boredom punctuated by action scenes of ever decreasing in satisfaction.


Ellison:"Please kill off my character. Riley: "Please kill off my wordrober." John: "I'll shoot you in the butt, I will!"

After a while, it just seemed like they were killing off characters because they did not know what else to do.  The only ones who will miss this show are the makers of anti-depressants.  The Chronically Depressed Chronicles indeed.

Sarah Connor:  "Are we cancelled at last?  Thank goodness.  At least I still have my looks."

Lena Headey as Sarah Connor: "Are we cancelled at last? Thank goodness. At least I still have my looks."


39 thoughts on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [2008-2009] 2 Seasons. 31 Episodes

  1. I’d have to agree with you, although I started to dislike the 1st season already. Continuity screw-ups and Summer Glau’s ridiculous dancing terminator just pissed me off. Not to mention that the series just doesn’t have the budget to live up to the movies.

  2. Awesome dude !!!

    It’s funny “Atleast I still have my looks” 🙂 . The first season was nice. I mean the story was building up. I was very excited about a new Terminator series. A fan just can’t get enough :). The producers director writers really messed up the show in second season. It became more like troubled mom son crying drama series. Terminator is supposed to be action packed series. Somehow i doubt the maker of this series have seen terminator movies.

    Anyway it’s good they canceled it. It started to ruin my taste in Terminator trilogy and the up coming movie.

  3. (First off, you didn’t have to make some nonsensical comment on my blog post to get my attention. just plug your blog if you want!)

    I don’t think that terminator and “happy” or “fun” are exactly synonymous. How much “fun” can you get in anything involving Terminator? They’re constantly on the run!

    I was thoroughly entertained by both seasons of this show, and I think that they did their “continuity screwups” because they had the difficult task of not stepping on the toes of Terminator movies to come.

    I think that this series was a complete surprise for me, because I expected it to be horrible from the start. This was a really good show with a good cast. I think the biggest surprise was Brian Austin Green, who until now I still remembered as “that guy from 90210 who made a rap album.”

    I know i’m in the minority compared to the hardcore Terminator fans who are OCD about continuity minutiae, but I think that this show added to the world of terminator, rather than fucking with it. The only thing I had a problem with is that part of a terminator squeezed through the time jump when he had no skin on.

    Where did you want this show to go? The #1 rule of Terminator is that “the future is fucked” Both seasons followed the path of the Terminator films. If they had a season 3, it was going to go in a new direction, I believe. It was going to be John Connor on his own. At least, I hope that’s what they would have done.

    (BTW, where’s you get that first pic? That looks like amateur Photoshop)

    • We appreciate your outspoken comments, and your minority opinion regarding this show.

      The ending of the second movie was changed from “happy – we fixed the future”, to “okay for now, the future is still unknown”. The first two movies, and perhaps even season 1 of the series operated under the premise that Judgment Day could be averted. It is only the third movie, the least liked of the three that insisted on doom.

      We are not OCD about continuity, nor hardcore Terminator fans, but we do like goals. After the first season, they seemed an afterthought in an ever entangled confusing plot. You may have been happy with some of the somber, self-important, depressing therapy sessions that were substituted for 2nd season episodes, but viewers obviously wanted more, as the ratings indicated.

      John Connor as depicted in this series was by far the least likable character to come along since Jar Jar Binks. He is far different than Bale’s interpretation. If you say the third season was going to revolve around him alone, than they were leaving behind the anchor of the show which was and should have stayed Sarah Connor.

      We think there would be little interest in “The Annoying Ungrateful Son Chronicles”.

      PS – The promo picture at the top is actually legitimate. It was really that lame. We only added the text.

  4. Oh, you bring up viewership! Let me remind you that American Idol has some of the best ratings in television. Are you telling me that is indicative of quality? There are a gigantic pile of “good but canceled” shows in the history of TV. Viewership doesn’t = quality. I’ve loved a lot more great shows that were canceled before there time than I have loved mega hits, or even decent hits.

    I think that they showed John Connor as a guy who has to face trying to live the life of a teenager and also face the reality that he is the leader of humanity in the future. Doesn’t he have some right to be a bitch, or a whiner? Talk about pressure!

    As for the word “confusing” I don’t think this was a plot that was hard for me to wrap my head around.

    I haven’t seen the 4th movie yet, so I can’t say who the best John Connor is. We’ve had what, 6 John Connors now (I’m including the kids 🙂 )? I don’t think Thomas Dekker is my favorite John Connor- that title goes to Edward Furlong- but he’s above T3’s wimp.

    I will agree that the title character was the strongest character. Loved Heady in this show!

    I’m not going to go back and forth with you on this, because we’re both set in our opinions, but I think we can agree that we were better with Sarah Connor Chronicles than no Sarh Connor Chronicles at all.

    • Good points for us to agree on.

      Viewership does not equal quality. We mentioned it only in the realm of people’s expectations.

      Lena Headey, when she is allowed to actually do more than talk, is fun to watch.

      Like Star Trek, we would rather take the good with the bad than have nothing at all. So in that sense we are glad there was something called The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

  5. I actually disagree about the supposed suckitude of the 2nd half.. I thought the first half of the 2nd season was subpar, and that the 2nd half picked it up. I’m thinking they killed the supporting cast because the series was getting cancelled and they knew it… I think the ending makes sense and actually works: John goes to the future, mans up and saves humanity and then sends Kyle back, thus fixing the paradox of John not being able to exist without having a father first. I like to think that at that point John realizes he’s gotta become the legendary John Connor. Plus he learned a lesson from Riley, which is why he’s sent Terminators back in time rather than people, aside from his father.

    I’m not trying to change your mind, those are just my thoughts. I do sympathize about Trek more, as I thought parts of it were blasphemous, but yeah it’s better something decent than nothing at all.

    • Thanks for commenting. We see where you are coming from. However, whichever one of us is right, one half or the other of season 2 really stunk. You just cannot make a successful show that way. Neither half of season 2 was the fun the first season was.

      Yes, you make a point about the very ending, however we had to go through so much crud to get there. That last episode was rushed and amazingly unsatisfying. I was not convinced that John Connor was able to man up to anything.

      Hey, we are glad we share some similar opinions on Trek. We must take the good with the bad in that case.

  6. Oh yeah and nobody can be as bad as Nick Stahl… he’s up there with Waah-nikin Skywalker as worse characters in movies.

  7. OK, so I am STILL avoiding the new Terminator movie because I am hearing more and more in depth reviews of it. Better writing: TV or ‘Salvation’?

    • We tried to keep our expectations moderate when going into T4. It was not what we expected. John Connor is like the co-star or even supporting cast.

      Still, we thought it better than T3, but that is a low bar as we considered T3 a downer. T4 is not great, but it had its moments. It was a little like a “major TV event” with a bigger budget in terms of writing.

      We just do not feel strongly enough about it to write a take. We guess that says something too.

  8. The final T: Salvation product is doubly depressing because the script blew and this is the first time I hear that Christian Bale really blew it, playing it 2-dimensional. I can’t blame him when the writer of Halle Berry’s Catwoman is feeding you your lines. Good for Sam Worthington, though.

    I listened to slashfilm’s podcast and they said that they changed the focus of the film more than they originally wanted. Even still, that script sounds horrendous. I can’t wait to see the mess for myself. Shows you that not all reboots work for the better.

    Sorry I’m not talking Sarah Connor, but FOX CANCELLED IT! BTW, have you seen the comic on how they decided whether to kill Connor or Dollhouse?

    • Bale indeed did not have a lot to work with in T4. Too much of the same note. The Catwoman writer… ewww.

      Send the link to that comic. We bet it is entertaining. Who can fathom the mind of a network executive?

    • Interesting both. Thanks for the links. You have to feel for that exec producer, but it was a beast of his own making. We could only stand by and watch helplessly with no ability to change.

  9. What a bunch of bullshit of someone who thinks that he can critize the series. And that from someone who calls himself “Fortess Guy”, what a laugh!!! The fun things is that you make a living out of it and some other poor bastards need to argue (as well as me, I agree) on this…
    Dude, let me give some advice, GET A LIFE!!

    • You are so “eloquent”.

      First of all, why should we refrain from criticizing T:TSCC? Why is it above reproach?

      Secondly, are we taking criticism for our handle from a guy who calls himself “bonkers”?

      Finally, we are glad you weighed in. – despite railing against those who do so.

    • That cast was indeed jam packed with hotties and hunks. They really had to work hard in some of those episodes to make them as dry, dull, and boring as they were.

      Very occasionally, that show hit on all cylinders. A few episodes were a lot of fun and reached some of their potential. Those were the times that make us agree with you, “what a waste”.

  10. You don’t have a review here so much as a series of quips and gags. Actually, that’s fine with me, but if you aim so low, I find it ironic that your main complaint about TSCC is that it, too, aims too low.

    The Terminator franchise is always interminably dark and sometimes cheesy. It appeals to some really deep fight-or-flight survival instincts. In a popcorn sense, I liked TSCC while recognizing its TV limitations. The dysfunctional mother/son relationship was indeed tiresome and unnecessary after a while, and I would have preferred the focus to remain on the title character rather than be spread among the cast. But you have to admit, there were some pretty compelling story and character arcs that propelled interest through two seasons, which is harder to achieve in a self-contained movie. I was never interested in T4 (haven’t seen it), which based on the trailers looks like a CGI festival with Christian Bale grunting (which is not acting — same character as Batman) his way through as John Connor. Frankly, Sarah Connor makes a much more interesting central character, especially as played in the movies by Linda Hamilton. I didn’t even miss Arnold in TSCC with all the other Terminators sent back in time instead.

    One thing I did really like was the suggestion that some of the machines in the future were themselves rebelling against Skynet, sending back their own Terminators to reach a better equilibrium with humanity than full-on mayhem, destruction, and extermination. The series ended before these story teases could be fully developed, which is a shame for those of us who enjoy getting our Terminator fix without needing to see all of creation destroyed with the increasing level of violence in each movie sequel.

    • Interesting and mentally stimulating commentary as usual Brutus.

      Yes there were a lot of quips in our take on TSCC. However we like to think the gag was on us first in the form of the second season, which flushed a lot of the fun things about season one down a time portal. We strived to make this take funny, perhaps in response to the depressing monotone into which the show evolved.

      We disagree about the franchise always interminably dark. The first movie ended on a semi-positive victorious note with a dash of hope. T2 had two possible endings. The producers in the end decided on the one that would leave open the possibility that judgment day had not been averted. So while sometimes dark, not interminably so. We agree though, that it has grown darker, much like TSCC grew darker.

      You say the series ended before the teases got played out. We wonder if the producers even had a plan for the teases. The second season was all tease and little resolution. It is still a hour long drama that while supporting an arc, also needs to entertain every week. TSCC forgot that somewhere along the way, and instead meandered on the power of its intellectual property.

      We agree the Sarah Connor character a strong and interesting one. She went increasingly to waste. Double yes to the dysfunctional and strained relationship with John that got old and unenjoyable. Such potential wasted. This show lost its way, took itself too seriously, and became tedious. We did not want our take to reflect those qualities.

      • Thanks for your thoughtful and generous replies to my two comments (thus far). I only have a couple more to make as our viewing preferences don’t overlap much. Your site could use a “recent comments” list. The Facebook interface doesn’t apply to me. Feel free to delete this comment if you wish.

      • Thanks for the input Brutus. We took your advice and added “Recent Comments” to our sidebar. We will see how it goes over.

        We are sorry you do not participate in Facebook. We would enjoy more back-and-forth. We hope you find more takes here that appeal to your genre likes. We enjoy your thoughtful comments.

  11. Yea, I gotta weigh in here.

    I want to first address the declining ratings issue (especially to the one who used American Idol as an argument against Fortress). Don’t look at the ratings of other shows to determine people not being interested in the show – look at its own ratings history. The show got a HUGE push by airing after football playoffs in January. The show even did well when it settled into the Monday night timeslot. Then the second season started, and its Monday ratings got pathetic, even severely hurting Prison Break in the process. Its Friday timeslot was given time and understanding (since Friday ratings suck for everyone) – and it STILL managed to tank in the ratings with each episode.

    So by judging the ratings – BY its OWN standards – you can see how audiences lost their interest

  12. Now on to the commentor saying something like “Why are you complaining about the show not going anywhere? You know from the movies that the world is fucked, so what did you expect?”

    If this was indeed the case, what was the point of the show? WHY would they bring back a show, only to have it tread water the whole time? They already have a whole channel dedicated to that: C-SPAN

    The whole point of serialized TV shows is to have a direction and vision of the big picture – and you can bet your ass the executive producer pitched one to WB for the show.

    If you are a viewer that has no problem with a show going nowhere – good for you; however, for the people who are NOT vegetables, we prefer there to be a direction in order for us to stay with it.

    • You really brought some facts and salient points into this discussion NoahJames.

      Even formulaic dramas that feature murders or diseases of the week like CSI or House try to move the cast along in a bit of an arc. How much more so should a show like TSCC which practically boasted about interjecting itself in the Terminator timeline.

      Jerry Seinfeld and George Castanza may have been able to pitch a show to the network saying it “was a show about nothing”. However we agree with you that there is no way TSCC was pitched that way to Fox.

  13. Speaking of the executive producer – don’t feel for him too much in his blog rant. I could be snarky about this, but I won’t.

    The fact of the matter is:

    1. He knew his show was going to be cancelled. It was too low-rated for network TV, yet still too expensive for cable – so there was no hope for it to be saved by Syfy, or others.

    2. HE chose to wait to tell his cast and crew until the very end that the show probably wasn’t going to come back. But they probably knew, because the ratings were dying.

    3. If you want to keep viewers interested, you have to either have a destination for your story, or at least push the plot along.

    I have NOTHING against the guy. For all I know, I may work with him some day. However, his blog was really more theraputic than factual. He knew what was coming, and his writers (from episode 201) didn’t really seem to be pushing the show to the next level

  14. Finally, a quick work about the characters.

    Sarah – How in the world could this show make Lena look unattractive?!?! Especially after she was so hot in 300? In this show, they gave her horrible hair and skin. Totally made her homely to me.

    John – What a whiny little bitch. You’d think after 2 “events” with a terminator before this, he’d understand that he needs to quit whining about EVERYTHING. I seriously wanted to punch his emo face a few times.

    Both Sarah and John seemed to treat Cameron like shit all the time. That got old really quickly.

    John’s gf was annoying as crap. They wanted her quirky, but it was just annoying.

    The spray-painted doors (in season 1), pregnant neighbor, former cop working for the lead singer of Garbage – all those stories never meant anything to the show. So what was the point, if for more than to just get the episodes up to 42 minutes long?

    • About Sarah: Absolutely. It takes real talent to make the photogenic look unattractive. To make the people with good screen presence fall flat.

      About John: Double agreement.
      About John’s gf: Triple agreement.

      Regarding your last paragraph: As the A-plots wandered, you can just imagine what was happening to the B-plot writing and integration. They should have fed into the larger arc or moved our characters along, but instead they did seem like time fillers.

  15. N-noooo T_T It really gets that bad?

    I enjoyed the first season quite a bit, though after hearing the show was cancelled I lost the desire to follow on to the second season, mainly because I’m obssessive-compulsive about following things unti their conclusion, and a show that end sin a cliffhanger for a next season and has no conclusion bothers me in a way that it really shouldn’t. *le sigh*

    I feel so disappointed. Like a kid who just found out the Hogfather isn’t real (or a kid who watched Buffy past the fifth season). Should I bother buying and watching the second series, even though it’s crap? Or should I spare myself the apparent pain and remember the first season fondly without the marring of the second?

    • A witty comment Nyuu that (le) cracked us up.

      You are fortunate that you now live in an era where last episodes that wrap up a series are commonplace. Back in the old days that was rarely the case.

      We cannot recommend season 2, although if you are a fan you may want to watch it. Aside from a couple good episodes it is mostly slow, sad and depressing. It does not really answer any of the big questions and puts forth more.

      Although we jumped on the Buffy/Angel train late, we agree that the show’s content and tenor got less fun over time. Proceeding on we were not thrilled by Firefly, Serenity or Dollhouse. We hope Whedon gets it together for his participation in Avengers.

      PS – The Hogfather is not real?!

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