Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Chronicles' Confusion Take 2

'Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles' Returns for Season 2By LillyKat
PTR Senior Staff Writer

So, last week I was interested, but confused.

This week I was trying to follow, but felt somewhat lost.

Next week I'll be ...?

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles is starting to have that Back to the Future II-ish feel to me. Remember how that film just seemed to be one big endless sense of time travel to the point of confusion? It's like they went overboard with all the forward - backwards - present - backwards - forward stuff that at some point, I just wanted to go, 'kay, which story is the REAL story?

I confess I'm starting to scratch my head with T:SCC, too.

One of our readers (thanks, John) made an interesting observation in response to LAST week's confusing episode. That is, the time travel elements are becoming too important to the story and/or it is creating a sense of confusion about what is really going on in the future. Moreover, it's arguably taking away from the fundamental theme of the show's premise: fighting to save the world from the machines. As in stock up, try to prevent, fight, search out, deal and cope.

After watching last night's ep, not only do I agree there is now a sense of total confusion about what the heck is in the future, I find the introduction of all these Enigma characters (Riley, Jesse, AI psych doc, etc.) problematic AND somewhat of a distraction because they aren't just either a) on John's team, coming back to fight the rise of the machines, and/or b) one of the machines trying to kill John. It's like we're getting too many tangents, too many what ifs, too much paranoia, too much, too much. I'm all for expanding on the film's premise, but not to the point of losing the focus.

A few posts back, I also made the comment that I thought one of the reasons viewership might be down this season (aside from timeslot competition and NO lead-in issue, which won't get any better once this show moves to Fridays in February) is the fact the show is spending too much time chronicling things that either a) go nowhere, or b) aren't that interesting. Whether that be John's ever slow growth out of emo mode into manhood mode, or these long sequences of looks, sighs and one line bits of dialogue that seem so drawn out and useless, it seems to be such a direct contrast to last season's non-stop thrill ride of urgency, conflict and action.

And less interesting.

Last night, we got the whole Riley is on the take moment. Is she? Is she good? Is she a machine? Who is she? And she knows Jesse ...? How is that? Why?

Or how about the whole fork - over - our - millions - as - tech - investors so as to try and get the Turk chip back, but of which ends up being a dead end? Seriously, that just seemed way too impulsive for Sarah and Co. and/or they hardly even really researched it enough to warrant the All In approach.

And the Three Dots? I get that it COULD be key or a clue, but it also seems as if our team is spinning their wheels over it.

About the only part of last night's story I did really like was the further development of the AI - Babylon, now named John Henry. This was really interesting, and it keeps to the fundamental theme that the machines are here (not sorta almost being possibly created), they are already in process (not a phantom start-up), and they need to be stopped. It seems to me the Connors should spend more time wondering about Ellison's whereabouts and what he's doing than chasing down ghosts of tech companies. True, he did lie somewhat convincingly about digging up Cromartie, but if Cameron is keen enough to go back to his house and make sure Ellison didn't bury Cromartie in his yard, wouldn't she want to do some surveillance - which would lead them to Shirley and his pseudo-partnership with her? Ellison is working both ends to the middle, and I can't believe no one in the Connor camp is paying attention.

Even moderately.

As such, there are some gaps in consistency with what should be the focus of the show right now, and I'm afraid it's taking away from the show's overall punch. This ep fell pretty flat for me EXCEPT for the final scene: Cromartie reincarnated as John Henry.

That. Was. Good.

The fight to save the world continues.

New episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles air Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX. You can also watch full episodes online. Visit the Official Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Web site to catch up (or re-watch!)

1 comment:

John said...

You pointed out what may be the main problem. There is an awful lot of down time.

I can appreciate an occasional slow period where our heroes are developing a strategy, but they don't even really do that.

Why aren't they asking Cameron or Derek about the history of the development of the machines? That would give them something real to go on.

It maybe that the machines origins are so diverse and caused by so many entities acting independently that there is no one critical element that the Connors can attack. It certainly seems possible with all the different groups all seeming to work to develop precursors of the robots. If so, stop working on that and prepare for the future rebellion.

Of course there is the company building John Henry, but no one seems to know about this except Ellison who doesn’t see anything wrong in helping to build the thing he wants to destroy.

All the Connors seem to follow are dead ends. I don’t want them to only have successes, but I don’t want them to have only failures either. And it gets old to have the suspense ramped up over some possible break through, only to have it mean nothing.

All the time travel and all the missed opportunities and false leads make me wonder if the writers and showrunners don’t have enough real plotlines to keep up a 22 week series. They need to pad out 10 or so of real story into 22 weeks by playing the TV version of a shell game.

I really like the series, or the series when it is working well, but I would like a return to the dynamism of season 1. Of course, season 1 was only part of what it was supposed to be because of the strike. I wonder season 1 would have been a let down if they had had to make 22 episodes.