After finally getting to watch the first 3 episodes, I think we can safely start to see a few things about the show that wasn’t apparent from just the pilot. Spoiler alert – I’m going to discuss a few things from the plot if you haven’t seen it.
I thought the show is interesting on a few fronts. The characters appear quite human and frail. Sure, Sarah is tough – she has to be one of the strongest female leads in a TV show in years – but she’s also scared and not afraid to hide. I liked this about the Sarah character from the movies and I think they capture this well.
I felt the interaction between a teen boy and his mother were realistic. I know John felt she wasn’t as forgiving as she was in the movies, but I’d mention that teenage boys are a lot more trying to parents than a 10 year old. I didn’t know anything about the show going in, so I was surprised to see Summer Glau and then see her turn into a robot. I figured she was a classmate and love interest, but this has changed the dynamic. I doubt we’ll see John find himself romantically attracted to Cameron, but we’ll see how it goes. In fact, if that sort of story does develop it would be pretty progressive for TV. Human – cyborg relations indeed!
I was also pleased to see that the show doesn’t have a weekly formula and is more like 24 in structure. I know this episodic format makes it hard for people to get into the show (and I give props to the Sci-Fi Channel for the Galactica movies that attempt to catch people up) but I personally like it. I would have been very disappointed to see a ‘Terminator of the week’ always just killed by the trio in the final minutes of the show. This way we get to see a plot play out over a full season (writer’s strike be damned.)
John wondered why they didn’t send back a T-1000. I hate to rationalize for them, but I can think of several reasons – it was a ‘one of a kind’ prototype and thus there isn’t another one, they are hard/expensive to make and they are used only in special circumstances, SkyNet considers the first a failure and thus abandoned that line of research. However, my best guess is that we simply haven’t seen it yet. It gives them a lot of room to ratchet up the story if they want to. Although on a practical side, I would suggest that the real reason we haven’t seen it is that the special effects budget isn’t high enough to pay for that level of computer graphics. As it was I thought the effects were pretty good. Oh, and while I thought the corny dialog (“class dismissed”) was a nod to the past and was OK, I’m glad to see they haven’t repeated it.
I think the biggest challenges for the show are dealing with the problems time travel introduces. In the movie Bender’s Big Score the production team mentioned that they spent hours and hours keeping track of every element of the timeline to make sure they didn’t make a mistake. I sure hope Chronicles producers/writers are doing the same thing. Without that, we’re bound to see some major plot holes open up and that would detract from the story.
The first two episodes should probably have been shown as a 2-hour season premier. The second hour is a big improvement over the pilot in terms of better writing and better acting. The 3rd episode shows that there might be a formula here after all although I doubt they’ll be finding another potential SkyNet builder every week. Instead, it seems that we’ll either be advancing the overarching plot or will be dealing with some side issue such as the need for IDs. I can honestly say I’m looking forward to future episodes and I’m hoping it takes off.