Sunday, March 08, 2009

'Chronicles' Reminds Us What Works Best

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


Well, I got my wish: Riley's out of the picture.

The wish I didn't get: Jesse is still around.

The wish that reappeared: Cameron and John front and center.

And wow ... I miss them.

For a moment, last week's episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles reminded me of what still appeals to me most about the show: Cameron and John.

It also reminded me how far off track the show has gotten from its appeal of the first season.

Too much of John moping around trying to grow a pair.

Too much of Cameron being reduced to one-liners.

Too much annoying Sarah craziness.

Too much Jesse/Riley drama.

Too many what ifs.

Too many dead ends.

At this point, it's not any wonder why the show is barely pulling in three million viewers.

It isn't Friday night's fault.

In this one viewer's opinion, the majority of this second season has seen Summer Glau's talent be wasted, which makes no sense given she was - hands down - one of the most compelling reasons to watch the show in the first season. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have her wandering around aimlessly in the background, some sort of bystander save for a couple of scenes here and there, (and the one most awesome episode, "Allison From Palmdale") should have their head checked.

(No wonder she's doing a guest spot on The Big Bang Theory on Monday; they give her so little do on T:SCC these days).

And yet, Summer Glau is one of the main reasons so many of us watch the show. And when they do bring her back front and center, and they pair her alongside non-mopey-emo John, we get glimpses of what WAS the focus BEFORE the Tangentland Chronicles took over.

Do we remember all of the arse-kicking episodes from the first season that centered on Cameron's fierce defense and protection of John? Do we remember how they served as constant reminders to him of what he needed to do, why he needed to do it and what they were fighting against?

There was none of this chasing shadows nonsense.

None of this will he/won't he stuff.

None of everyone else wandering around trying to find their own ways to stop Skynet.

Last week's episode reminded me how good the show can still be, but it also reminded me how far off track its gotten, too - how its tried to do too much with too many "other" elements instead of sticking to the fundamentals.

In that sense, it was somewhat depressing.

But for a moment, we got to see Cam and John in sequences that remind us what it is all about.

We got to see the connection between current John and future John.

And we were reminded of Cam's devotion to her mission to protect John at all costs - even if it means her own termination.

In that sense, it wasn't depressing.

In that sense, it is still what works best.

New episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles air Fridays 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!)

3 comments:

John said...

About a week ago Lee Goldberg has some comments on T:TSCC (and the Dollhouse). http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/

Particularly relevant were comments that Josh Friedman made that Goldberg included. These are from Freidman’s blog (http://www.fox.com/blogs/terminator/2009/02/22/josh-friedman-almost-spoiler-alert/) and from an interview with Io9.com (or maybe it is I09.com).

In these, Freidman acknowledged the fan unhappiness with the latest Sarah centered episodes and says the network warned him about them and even his own writers felt that were the season’s weakest.

This week’s episode improved considerably and from previews of upcoming episodes the improvement continues.

We have had Sarah and Derek each going their own way and telling no one. John and Cameron were doing nothing. At best this was bad writing and at worst it was a lazy way to create tension, a variation on the plot device of having one or mare characters act so stupid that all would take is a 60 second conversation to end the problem.

If Derek had introduced Jesse to everyone else most of the problems she caused would never have happened.

I will certainly stay with the show, but I am afraid the ratings damage may be permanent. And it probably hurt Dollhouse’s rating as well.

Also, I wanted Riley to kill Jesse more than the other way, or better yet for them to kill each other.

RichE said...

I'll give it a "step in the right direction" rather than "a return to form". Let's hope it continues in this vein.

I've been watching Dollhouse too. Can't say I'm completely taken with it. I think they might have introduced the wider arc to early. Perhaps they should have just got a few basic "missions" done first to get us into it before bringing in the problems.


RichE.

LillyKat said...

Interesting, John. Another example of how an executive producer wants to go left when everyone else wants to go right. And when this happens, it usually turns out for the worse, not better.

Let me say props to FOX and props to the REST of the writers on that staff for saying, "Uh, Josh, probably not a good idea to go there."

We saw this happen on Cold Case, where the single-minded vision of the former showrunner(s) nearly destroyed the show. They were so out of touch with what everyone wanted to see, and they wasted nearly two and half seasons on it before they left/weren't involved with the show anymore. Now, while a new creative team is in place this season, enough damage was done that many of us (myself included) don't care anymore what happens and/or have stopped watching the show.

I don't know why showrunners do this. Grey's Anatomy is another example. Shonda Rhimes was on a roll, then she took the show into the Netherlands. Now, everyone can't figure it out, actors have asked to leave, the wheels seem to be coming off. ABC anc Co. can deny this all they want, but you can't tell me fans are thrilled where the show is currently.

There is the old saying that seems to escape showrunners in these moments of let's-go-left: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

T:SCC wasn't broken in the first season. It started well into the second season (in spite of the ratings). Now, it's just mostly a mess and hardly interesting anymore.

I will stick with the show until its end, but I fear if the previews are any indication of the show perhaps getting back on track, it might be a case of too little, too late.

And that is a real shame.