Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why You Should Be Watching SCC

I rise in recognition and support of television's Sarah Connor Chronicles. Last week there was an article I saw that asked why SCC wasn't "the new lost." Today I saw another article explaining why, explicitly, it wasn't. And now I have the urge to say:

Thank God it isn't - and yes you should be watching.

Lost is such a lumbering elephant compared to SCC. Sure over time Lost has earned its place among the scifi TV royalty - although I am sure there are still die-hard fans that expect everything to be able to work out without anything fantastic. I am also sure they will be wrong. The point is that there are so many things going on that you almost have to become a student of the show to enjoy the show ("no, dude, if you go frame by frame you see Echo sitting in heaven steering the smoke monster with a joystick that has a dharma logo on it...")

The Sarah Connor Chornicles is just excellent science fiction television. I think they wouldn't find it surprising to hear me say so, I believe I am the bullseye on their demographic chart. I was a collegeish person when T2 came out; and I was a fan of 90210 so I am willing to give Brian Austin Green the benefit of the doubt.

Popular wisdom says it's the Cameron character that gets people to watch, that Summer Glau will bring in viewers by the truckload. If so, they are fickle viewers; not the kind that hang with a show for the long haul (also unlikely to use semi-colons in their partisan blogging). The show isn't about the protector machine or the boy king. This story is about the mother, were it a film all the rest would be noise. Since we're on TV we need a little more to break up the pace and this show is strongest when its about the mother, the uncle (the aforementioned B.A.G.) or the cop.

The uncle, Derek Reese, is a great add to the mythology. Now we get to see the full extent of the thrust and parry that is a war fought in different temporal zones, and it gives us a connection to the post-judgement day Earth through the person of someone other than one of the machines - something the terminator franchise hasn't had since the original movie (which I should admit I've never seen). It also puts in place an ally for Sarah and John without their having to lay out their story over and over, which would become instantly tedious.

The cop, James Ellison, is a totally new dimension to the mythology and a needed one - someone in our timeframe, native to our timeframe, not tied to John Connor directly, who believes and is trying to unravel the story. The story potential for Ellison is fantastic, and the pawn manipulation of him by the T1000 on the show is excellent.

There's just so much to like. They've set things up such that aside from Sarah, John, and Derek you really don't know who is on which side; who is working to advance Skynet and who is working to prevent it - or who is trying to protect John Connor and who is trying to kill him. Each scirmish along the way is so far engaging and interesting and slowly peeling back more of the puzzle for us to see, now we have the therapist, two girlfriends, the ex husband, the daughter, another programmer, and we're waiting for the next bad guy.

If you have any doubts, find a way to watch last season's finale someplace. There's a scene where Derek takes John to the park for an ice cream, I think it's his birthday. And there in the park is current timeline Derek playing catch with his brother, John's father, as a child. It was one of those story ideas that fully embraced the universe of the series and showed us something no other program could, one of a kind television, outstanding. The rest of the episode isn't bad either, it's where Ellison figures out something very different is afoot and his final scene with the Terminator is excellent - great sound design even, something like you might remember from culminating scenes on Homocide or West Wing years ago.

This is a great TV series. Fox is going to bury it on Friday in February, putting it head to head with BSG I think in what could be one of the bonehead programming maneuvers of all time - thank God for DVRs. If you're watching it, go ahead and spread the word, we've seen enough to know it isn't going to suddenly suck. If you're not watching it, check it out, you're missing somehting special.


Blake said...

I can't believe you've never seen the original Terminator film.

You should really check it out, if for no other reason than there have been a lot of references to minor events in that film in the current series and watching it will increase your appreciation of the TV show.

Plus, bonus points for naked Linda Hamilton back when she was young and cute (even if she did have 80s hair).

David said...

I am fairly sure I've seen the whole movie, a little bit at a time over a dozen or so occasions - just never all the way through at one time.