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How to Save Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles

February 19, 2009

Okay this isn’t really a list of how to save a show that’s pulling in less viewers than Enterprise, on a major network, and is stuck in the Friday night deathslot next to Joss Whedon’s latest abortion, and on top of that only existed to build interest in a Terminator movie, which is coming out soon. So this is more of a list of things I never ever want to see on the show again.

1. Sarah Connor having visions – Sarah Connor is not a mystic. She’s not part Cherokee. She’s not Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you’re not getting my drift yet, let me break it down for you while wearing glossy orange parachute pants. Sarah Connor should not be having any visions. Simple as that.

Sarah Connor is an ordinary waitress forced to be something more for the sake of her son. The visions she had in the movies were nightmares, not prophecies. They were expressions of the fears and terrors that drove her.

I realize that just about every SciFi TV series showrunner needs to get his David Lynch freak on now and then, but please put a stop to it. Like right now. The shark has been jumped with those three dots. Enough. Sarah Connor’s life means being close to her son and protecting him. Not abandoning him all the time to race around the country talking to UFO fanatics.

2. Religion. No! – Skynet is a supercomputer. He is not Satan. Just because the damn end of the world was called Judgment Day is not a license to constantly trot out religious metaphors. Once was okay. Twice maybe. Thirty times and you and me boy, we got ourselves a problem. When Terminators begin walking around talking about the Bible, twice in one freaking episode, without even having any kind of larger message to it, you’ve officially got a problem.

So pull waaaay back on the religion. And the UFO’s. This isn’t the X-Files, Josh. Stop trying to create a mythology for it. The mythology is already there. You don’t need a bunch of hackneyed religious cliches and vision quests to make that happen. Get back to the story, and step away from the bible. Thanks.

3. Riley. – Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who obsessively hated her from Day 1. It was more like Day 22. First she was his sorta girlfriend, now she’s a catspaw from the future. Either way do something with her, or get rid of her the way you did that girl from Season 1 in that mysterious school we never saw again. If I have to sit through one more episode filled with inconclusive scenes with Riley, I’ll build Skynet myself in my spare time just so a Terminator can go back and wipe that episode from human history.

4. John Connor as a Whiny Brat – Hey I know he’s only a teenager and only human. Everyone has their off days. He wouldn’t be John Connor if he didn’t. The problem is he doesn’t seem to have any on days anymore. While Sarah is off going nuts, John hangs around doing nothing. Now that’s probably realistic, but it makes for lousy TV. He’s got a few years to prepare to be the savior of humanity, and right now we ain’t seeing it. So man up, deal with your girl issues and do your job.

5. Agent Ellison – I don’t hate Agent Ellison, but he’s become to the show what a certain suspended hockey player’s sloppy seconds became to 24. He hangs around, he talks to Skynet who’s now in a human body, he walks away and has the same conversation with evil Scottish terminator that he did last episode, and the one before it. Here’s a crazy idea, let’s just kill him in some horrible way and put him and us out of his misery.

Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles has too many subsidiary characters, and wastes the key characters it should be building up. Enough already. We don’t need Agent Ellison around to quote bible verses and stalk his ex-wife. I like the guy but please make him die in some horrible lingering way to atone for the amount of screen time he’s wasted over the years.

6. Episodes that Don’t Suck – I don’t mean to do your job for you or anything, but how about some episodes that don’t suck. You know like the show used to do.

Your premise is that a boy is going to be the savior of mankind. He’s protected by his mother and a creepy but intriguing girl robot. Then his uncle dropped in from the future. They’ve got lots of guns, and they know Skynet has forces in the past hunting for them while working to build up a power base. They’re all trained guerrillas. Now go tell some interesting stories with that premise.

Now is that really so damn hard? Drop the lingering array of soap opera plots, especially evil asian girl from the future. Stop quoting Bible verses. Stop giving Sarah Connor vision quests. Tell some damn good stories, or not only will you be canceled but no one will give a damn or mourn your passing.

Is that clear enough?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. severus permalink
    February 20, 2009 12:10 am

    I’ve read your recommendations for how to save the show. I have to say I’m not in agreement with most of your prescriptions, save number four and part of number six. The more I watch the show, the more I see what they’re trying to do. I respect your opinion though. Check out what I say in last weeks episode on my blog. Maybe it will be insightful for you.

  2. drnormalblog permalink*
    February 20, 2009 12:58 am

    What is your blog?

    • severus permalink
      February 20, 2009 6:56 pm

      It’s called, Thanks for explaining. Search for results on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”

  3. Kate permalink
    February 20, 2009 2:14 am

    Actually, the premise is “mother tries to protect her son. the son is/may be important to the future.” Understanding the order that those premises come is key to understanding the show. Apart from that, I disagree with pretty much everything you wrote. Except Riley. She can die already.

  4. drnormalblog permalink*
    February 20, 2009 2:22 am

    The show has stopped focusing on Sarah protecting John, in favor of going off on her own tangents. John is often alone, and accompanied only by Cameron, whom Sarah doesn’t like and doesn’t trust.

    Sense this makes none.

    I’m not saying Sarah has to be babysitting Johnny Boy 24/7, but going off on vision quests into X-Files territory isn’t on the menu either.

    • severus permalink
      February 20, 2009 7:03 pm

      Sarah is pursuing her own lead on skynet, whose destruction/prevention will create long-lasting safety for her son. Yes, Sarah’s feelings about Cameron are conflicted, given what she’s experienced at the hands of cyborgs in general, and Cameron’s “glitch” earlier in the season.

      All this makes sense to me.

      • drnormalblog permalink*
        February 20, 2009 8:29 pm

        Sarah only got into this because John asked her, but protecting John is more important than pursuing a lead. And her lead in this case is a vision she had backed by three dots on a wall. The only reasonable explanation for this kind of storyline is that she’s mentally ill again, and it would be nice if the show had the guts to go there.

        Sarah doesn’t trust Cameron, and she shouldn’t. Yet she’s mostly leaving John’s safety to her now, which doesn’t jibe with the earlier show and makes no sense.

  5. February 28, 2009 5:31 am

    Dr. Normal, you’re freaking hilarious. Your mere mention of ‘Enterprise’ cracked me up pretty bad. Haha! Then I had a flashback to when I met Marina Sirtis at SDCC08, where I asked her what she thought about Enterprise, and she gave me this unforgettable glare.

    I must say though, that I like this Sarah Connor show. There are many things that I don’t like about it, but at least it’s more engaging than Dollhouse or Enterprise.

    • drnormalblog permalink*
      March 1, 2009 12:07 am

      Yeah TSCC was a much better show than either, though Enterprise had a somewhat decent last season when it was taken over by an actual adult who liked Star Trek, instead of Berman and Braga and that whole gang.

      The thing that annoys me is TSCC has had standout episodes, but lately the show just seems to be busy killing itself. And Josh Friedman along with the Friday deathslot seems to have gotten the job done.

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