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Terminator films

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is an American science fiction television series produced by Warner Bros. Television and C2 Pictures, spinning off from the Terminator series of films. It revolves around the lives of the fictional characters Sarah and John Connor, following the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The series premiered on Sunday, January 13, 2008 on the U.S. television network Fox. Executive production for the series is provided by Terminator 2 and Terminator 3 producers and C2 Pictures co-presidents, Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna, C2 Senior Vice President James Middleton, David Nutter, and Josh Friedman, who is also writing.

The show opened mid-season with a shortened run of nine episodes, January through March, 2008. It was the highest-rated new scripted series of the 2007-08 television season and was renewed for a second season, which began on September 8, 2008.

Plot

Back story

At the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor, her son John and the Terminator successfully destroy the T-1000, the arm and the computer chip from the first Terminator. The Terminator, at its own request, is then destroyed in order to eliminate any future technology that could be used to create Skynet. Sarah and John, now wanted fugitives, must also face the reality that other enemies from the future could be after them. Apparently, they were only able to delay "Judgment Day" from 1997 to 2011.

Summary

The pilot episode is set in 1999 and introduces Sarah, her son John, and Cameron, a Terminator that has been re-programmed to protect John. They are being pursued by a Terminator (Cromartie) sent back through time to assassinate John and also by FBI Special Agent James Ellison, who believes Sarah is a deranged criminal (based on the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day). Sarah is romantically involved with a paramedic named Charley Dixon, but ends her relationship with him to stay on the run. During the pilot, Sarah, John, and Cameron make a temporal leap to the year 2007. Cromartie suffers extensive damage while trying to kill them, begins to effect repairs to his endoskeleton and artificial flesh, and continues his search for John in 2007. Seeing how John is frustrated with their life of running, Sarah resolves to go on the offensive against Skynet. But the world in 2007 proves complex: they find Skynet has sent additional Terminators back in time to support its own creation, and the resistance movement has sent back its own fighters to interfere. As they seek out an intuitive chess computer called The Turk, which may be a precursor to Skynet, they forge an alliance with Derek Reese, resistance fighter and John's uncle.

Cast and characters

  • Lena Headey as Sarah Connor: Sarah is a major character in the Terminator series. She is the mother of John Connor, who will one day become the leader of the human resistance. She is seen as a deranged fugitive by the authorities. Series creator Josh Friedman saw over 300 actresses for the role and described the actress he was looking for was someone "who embodied that spirit and who was believable in that role and not just some glammed up, Hollywood, actressy thing." After a friend recommended English actress Lena Headey for the role, Friedman watched her audition tape, and thought she was "a tough, tough woman." Headey was aware of the iconic status of the character and in regards to Linda Hamilton's portrayal of the role in the film series, she remarked, Having seen The Terminator when she was a teenager, which "scared the hell out of [her]", "Linda Hamilton will always be the original Sarah Connor and it's a very strong print that she's left, but hopefully people will embrace what I bring to Sarah and see it with fresh eyes." Headey's Sarah Connor has been criticized for not being as muscular as Linda Hamilton in T2.
  • Thomas Dekker as John Connor: John is Sarah's son and the future leader of the human resistance. He is only 15 years old at the beginning of the show, turning sixteen in the season one finale. As the series progresses, John struggles with his feelings for Cameron, who is a Terminator. Dekker was cast after Headey secured the role of Sarah Connor. His management threatened to pull him from the NBC series Heroes to ensure that his character Zach would not be gay, believing that it would threaten his chances of getting the role of John. Regarding the Terminator films, Dekker says, "They are like my favorite films when I was younger. So it's very ironic that I'm getting to do this. And I know for the younger generation and for myself, John was equally important to me as Sarah was, and I know a lot of the people that I hear from really, really care about John." Dekker describes his character as "a continuation of Eddie Furlong's character" but "he's in a darker, more mature place now".
  • Summer Glau as Cameron Phillips: Cameron is a Terminator sent back from the year 2027 to protect John Connor by General John Connor. Her model and exact capabilities are not known, but she can mimic human mannerisms better than the T-800 model, and consume food, a first for terminators. Her name is a homage to Terminator film franchise creator James Cameron. Glau had not seen the Terminator films prior to being cast as Cameron Phillips, whose role in the series was initially kept concealed but was later revealed to be a Terminator sent from the future to protect John. Friedman had previously wanted to cast Glau in a pilot he wrote four years prior to The Sarah Connor Chronicles but she was already committed to Serenity. Glau almost did not audition for the role because of her preconceptions of the character and she felt that she did not have "that Terminator look". On playing Cameron, Glau said she was "intimidated" by the role because it was a challenge for her to balance the human and robot characteristics of the character.
  • Richard T. Jones as James Ellison: Ellison was an FBI Special Agent pursuing Sarah Connor. At first bemused by Sarah's outlandish story, as he pursues her he collects inexplicable evidence left by Terminators, and gradually realizes the truth. Jones describes his character as a "man of faith and likens him to that of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. Moreover, he is allowed to improvise a few lines to provide "a little bit of comic relief" to the show. In the second season Ellison pursues employment on ZeiraCorp.
  • Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese: Derek is a Resistance fighter sent to the past by the future John Connor. He is the older brother of Kyle Reese and biological uncle of John. He knows Cameron in the future, but still does not trust her. He is recurring in the first season but becomes a regular in the second season.
  • Garret Dillahunt as Cromartie: Cromartie is a T-888 sent back in time to kill John Connor in the pilot episode, in which he was portrayed by Owain Yeoman. He takes damage to his biological covering, revealing his metal endoskeleton. After he finds a new biological covering in the episode "The Turk", he continues his search for John. He is recurring in the first season, but becomes a regular in the second season.
  • Shirley Manson as Catherine Weaver: Weaver is a shape-shifting Terminator disguised as the CEO of a high-tech corporation called ZeiraCorp. A model T-1001, her liquid metal form as she changes shape resembles that of the T-1000 seen in Terminator 2, but it is not yet known how her model differs from that one. She is focused on developing artificial intelligence using The Turk, the intuitive computer believed to be a precursor to Skynet, and targets her fellow cyborgs in order to reverse engineer Skynet technology in the present.
  • Dean Winters as Charley Dixon: Charley, a paramedic, was Sarah's fiancé until she left him in the pilot episode and traveled eight years forward in time. Although he married _The_Sarah_Connor_Chronicles_minor_characters#Michelle_Dixon in the interim, during subsequent episodes he builds a friendship with the Connors and renders medical assistance when needed.
  • Leven Rambin as Riley: John's new friend from his English class.

Production

Development

On November 9, 2005, Variety reported that a television series based on the Terminator franchise was being produced by C2 Pictures, which produced Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The Fox Broadcasting Company also joined the project by making a commitment to the pilot with Josh Friedman set to write the pilot and to serve as an executive producer for the series. Among the executive producers were C2 Pictures' Andy Vajna, Mario Kassar and James Middleton.

The series, initially titled The Sarah Connor Chronicles, focuses on the character Sarah Connor who is on the run with her son after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Regarding the character Middleton said, "She has the weight of the world on her shoulders and also has to raise a teenage son who may be the salvation of humanity." Friedman commented that the series would contain fewer action sequences due to the smaller budget of television in contrast to feature films.

Fox Broadcasting greenlit production on August 28, 2006, after Warner Bros. Television hired David Nutter to direct the pilot. The series was among seven new TV shows picked up by Fox on May 13, 2007 for its 2007-08 television season. In regards to the plot of the series, Friedman said the show would avoid the "Terminator of the Week" plot device and that Sarah, John, and Cameron will have other threats than just Terminators. Skynet would also come into play as the series progresses. Furthermore, Friedman stated that the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines occur in an alternate timeline from that of the TV series. In addition to having planned the entire story arc for the first season, Friedman has a rough idea for the plot of the following three seasons.

At the 2008 press tour, the show's cast and crew promised season two would be less serialized than the first. Producer Josh Friedman has said his plans are to incorporate the unfilmed storylines from the remaining four episodes of season 1 into the start of season 2.

It has been suggested in article on the SyFi Portal that Fox sources have said production of season 2 of Terminator:TSCC may be stopped following poor ratings and in an effort by Fox executives to save Prison Break.

Filming

The pilot episode was primarily filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The principal photography started on January 24, 2007 and took approximately one month to complete. Subsequent episodes in the series were filmed in the backlot of Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California, on a set previously used by Gilmore Girls to depict their fictional town, Stars Hollow.

Music

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles features incidental music composed by Bear McCreary. For financial reasons, the main theme of the Terminator film series, composed by Brad Fiedel, is featured briefly in the TV series - mainly during the title sequence. McCreary has stated that his score is inspired by the tone of Fiedel's score in the first two Terminator films and since Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, he felt that the tone of the music should be consistent with that of the film as much as possible. He began working on the score by recording metallic sounds, using "oil cans, whale drums, chains, anvils, brake drums, garbage cans, thundersheets, tin cans...", after which he edited the samples and created his own custom library of metallic drums. For every episode thereafter, live metal percussion elements were recorded on top of the electronics. While Fiedel's scores were performed using synthesizers, McCreary chose to use an ensemble of electric string instruments instead.

A musical theme was created for each of the principal characters. The theme for Sarah Connor is the most frequently used theme in addition to being the longest and the most developed theme in the series as opposed to that which was created for the character in the films. There are two main sections to Sarah's theme with one presenting her "bad-ass, stoic warrior" side and the other as "a loving mother". John's theme was originally composed for a specific scene in the pilot episode and performed with a solo clarinet to convey his loneliness and awkwardness. McCreary stated that the "musical ambiguity in the melody" is used to show John's transformation in the series. Although themes were also written for other characters such as Derek Reese, James Ellison and the "evil terminator[s]", no themes were written for Cameron during the first season because McCreary felt that "her character was defined by her relationship with John, Sarah and the others around her" so Sarah's or John's theme was used in most of her scenes.

The series mainly features McCreary's original score. Songs and instrumental music from other sources are used sparingly. Alter Bridge's single "Rise Today" were used for the promotion of the first season. Three songs have been used in the series so far: "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash was used in the first season finale and a cover of "Samson and Delilah" by Shirley Manson was used in the second season premiere. Both songs were used as background music for an action sequence in their respective episode. The second season episode, "The Mousetrap", features "Safe Within Your Arms" by Greg Garing. "Nocturne in C-sharp minor" by Frédéric Chopin was used in the first season episode "The Demon Hand".

The record label La-La Land Records is expected to release the original television soundtrack for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on November 18, 2008.

Release

Pre-broadcast marketing

Prior to its broadcast on television, Fox undertook a large marketing effort to promote the show, which was described by Joe Earley, Fox Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, as the "biggest campaign for a new mid-season show in years." The advertising campaign began months prior to the premiere date to make sure that it would attract existing Terminator fans as well as welcome in new fans. After 24 was postponed to the 2008-09 TV season, more time was devoted to the show by Fox's marketing team and more on-air promotional spots were available for the show that would otherwise have gone to 24.

Fox began their advertising campaign for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on September 27, 2007, with a brief teaser which ran during primetime programs, consisting of an image of two red dots that lasted for a few seconds on screen before disappearing. The two red dots were revealed to be the eyes of the Terminators from the show in the second phase of the advertising campaign, which began two weeks later. The final phase of the campaign commenced in November 2007 with more broadcast information being added to the advertisements.

In addition to on-air teasers, Fox heavily promoted the show during the World Series by releasing the first 45-second preview for the show on October 27, 2007. Other forms of advertisements used included: mobile tours on "Terminator" buses sponsored by Verizon Wireless; a interactive cell phone game based on the series offered by Verizon's V CAST, which rewarded the players with ring tones, wallpapers and behind-the-scenes footage; cable tie-ins; online outreach via the official website and wiki; online sneak peeks; and a poster design contest run by Fox. Advance screenings of the pilot episode were also held at the 2007 Comic-Con International convention and at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles on January 4, 2008.

Billboard advertisements, which was described by Variety to have "blanketed New York and L.A.", contained images of Summer Glau's Terminator in a "Lady Godiva-esque pose" used to target the young-male demographic, while the key art emphasized on Sarah Connor being at the core of the show to attract the "mom demo". Fox originally planned for more outdoor marketing in other cities but the marketing budget was reduced because of the Writers' Strike.

Broadcast information

An extended cut of the pilot was publicly screened for the first time on July 28, 2007, at the 2007 Comic-Con International convention. Originally scheduled to premiere on January 14, 2008, the television broadcast of the show was rescheduled to commence on January 13, 2008, after Fox reorganized their broadcast timetable due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. As such, Fox's original intention to air Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in the Monday 8:00 p.m. ET timeslot as a lead-in program for 24 was also changed. The show was moved to the Monday 9:00 p.m. ET timeslot with Prison Break as its lead-in program.

Following the resolution of the WGA Strike, the Los Angeles Times printed a chart indicating the status of American network television series. The chart, reprinted by a number of other websites, categorized the series as "on the bubble", a term used to describe series in danger of cancellation. The Hollywood Reporter stated that the show would likely return. TV Guide then reported that "Fox has given producers the green light to start booking directors for next season's first three episodes". Fox later confirmed that the series would indeed receive a second season, which began on September 8, 2008 in the Monday 8:00 p.m. ET timeslot.

International distribution

Country TV Network Air date
Australia Nine Network
Belgium VT4 (nl) and La Deux (fr) Sundays at 8:25pm (fr) Mondays at 11 pm (nl)
Brazil Warner Channel Tuesdays at 10pm
Bulgaria Nova Television
Canada A and Space Mondays at 8pm and Saturdays at 9:00pm
Croatia RTL Wednesdays at 9:05pm
Czech Republic TV Prima
Greece Star Channel
France TF1
Hong Kong TVB Pearl Mondays at 10:35pm
India Zee Café Tuesdays
Italy Mediaset Premium
Ireland TV3
Latin America Warner Channel
Malaysia 8TV
New Zealand TV2 Wednesdays 9:30pm(Season 1 & 2) Season 2 to Premiere October 8, 2008
Norway TV Norge
Philippines AXN and Crime/Suspense
Poland AXN
Portugal RTP1
Romania Pro TV
Russia RenTV Fridays at 08:00 pm
United Kingdom Virgin1 Thursdays at 9pm, Season 2 to premiere October 23, 2008
Singapore AXN Asia and MediaCorp TV Channel 5
South Africa M-Net
Spain Canal Sur and TV3
Sweden TV3
Denmark TV-2 Series purchased, broadcast pending
Turkey CNBC-e Sundays 09:00 pm
Ukraine ICTV_(Ukraine)

DVD and Blu-ray

The first season was distributed under the title "Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete First Season" on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc by Warner Home Video. The three-disc DVD set was released on August 11, 2008 in the United Kingdom, on August 13, 2008 in Australia, and on August 19, 2008 in North America. The Region 1 DVD set contains all nine episodes aired from the first season, commentary on select episodes, audition tapes for select actors, video of Summer Glau practicing for her ballet scenes, making of features, and deleted scenes for certain episodes. The Region 2 and 4 versions have all nine episodes but has excluded all the special features apart from one deleted scene. On the other hand, both the three-disc Blu-ray sets released in North America and Europe contain the same bonus features offered by the Region 1 DVD set. On the Blu-ray set, each episode is encoded in 1080p, VC-1 compression with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio track.

Response

Ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on a weighted average total viewers per episode) for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in the United States:

Season Timeslot Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 Sunday 8:00 p.m. ET (January 13) January 13, 2008 March 3, 2008 2007-2008 #30 11.4
Monday 9:00 p.m. ET (January 14 - March 3)
2 Monday 8:00 p.m. ET September 8, 2008 2008-2009

The series premiere in the United States was watched by 18.6 million viewers during its premiere time on January 13, 2008.

Critical reception of the pilot episode

The pilot episode received a rating of 11.1 from Nielsen Media Research on January 13, 2008. The mainstream press reviews were generally positive. USA Today gave the premiere episode 3 and a half stars out of four, calling the series, "smart, tough and entertaining. The New York Times referred to it as "one of the more humanizing adventures in science fiction to arrive in quite a while", while the Los Angeles Times declared the show "has heart and feeling" and "an almost Shakespearean exploration of fate vs. character" that features "plenty of really great fight scenes, and explosions, as well as neato devices developed in the future and jury-rigged in the present. In addition, film industry journal Daily Variety declared the series pilot "a slick brand extension off this profitable assembly line" that showcases "impressive and abundant action with realistic visual effects and, frankly, plenty of eye candy between Glau and Headey. At the start of the second season, Variety praised "Headey's gritty performance as Sarah -- managing to be smart, resourceful and tough, yet melancholy and vulnerable as well" and that the Chronicles "continue to deliver", getting "considerable mileage out of the constant peril" facing the characters.

Not all response has been positive, however. The Futon Critic, in a June 14, 2007 review of the pilot episode, declared that "it's actually far more ingrained into the Terminator mythology than you'd expect," but stated that "this installment feels less like a 'pilot' and more like an excuse to rearrange the deck chairs on the 'Terminator' franchise to potentially have a TV show." One negative report from La Lámina Corredora reported that "the pilot feels too much like a cheap remake of T2.

Awards

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles won the following awards:

The series was also nominated for the following awards:

  • Saturn Award: Best Actress on Television, 2007 (Lena Headey)
  • Saturn Award: Best Network Television Series, 2007
  • Teen Choice Awards: Choice TV Actress: Action Adventure, 2008 (Summer Glau)
  • Teen Choice Awards: Choice TV Breakout Show, 2008
  • Teen Choice Awards: Choice TV Breakout Star Female, 2008 (Summer Glau)
  • Teen Choice Awards: Choice TV Breakout Star Male, 2008 (Thomas Dekker)
  • Teen Choice Awards: Choice TV Show: Action Adventure, 2008
  • Primetime Emmy Award: Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series, 2008 (Paul Karasick for "Pilot")
  • Primetime Emmy Award: Outstanding Special Visual Effects, 2008 (James Lima, Chris Zapara, Lane Jolly, Steve Graves, Rick Schick, Jeff West and Bradley Mullennix for "Pilot")
  • Primetime Emmy Award: Outstanding Stunt Coordination, 2008 (Joel Kramer for "Gnothi Seauton")

References

External links

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