The time: today. The stakes: all our tomorrows. A nascent AI, assisted by droids, continues to edge toward world domination and the ruin of humankind. It accepts no limits. It fears no one. Except John Connor. The machines know John, now 16, is the future head of the resistance. They know he is growing in abilities. They must find and terminate him. But Sarah Connor is there, protecting and instructing her son as he becomes the man he?s destined to be. The hunt is on in a season of powerful revelations, breathless pursuits and bravura effects. A mysterious 3-dot symbol (do UFOs provide a clue?), a girlfriend for John (is Cameron jealous?), ZeiraCorp (can it master the renegade software called Turk?) Season 2’s 5-disc action arsenal is locked, loaded, ready to amaze.
Head on over the jump to check out my review of the five-disc DVD set.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: The Complete Second Season
Official Site Link: www.terminatorondvd.com
Release Date: September 22, 2009
Writing this review for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chonicles: The Complete Second Season is bittersweet for me. You see, on the one hand I got to relive what I thought were some of the finest hours of sci-fi drama on television last season. But at the same time we all know that this will be the last we see of this group and this iteration of the ‘Terminator’ franchise due to its cancellation by Fox. But this isn’t the time nor place to rehash what may have been, instead I’ll just choose to remember what was.
The second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles began where the first left off. Thankfully while the first season ended on a somewhat lackluster note — a lot of which was probably due to the writers strike — I had very few issues with the second season. First off, just to recap, the first season ended with Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) and her son John Connor (Thomas Dekker) looking for The Turk — a super advanced computer that while was built to play chess, was believed to be the catacylst to advance AI to dangerous levels. The Connors have help from the future with Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) and a Terminator that John sent back to help him (Cameron, played by Summer Glau). That was basically the key plot point of the first season. Season two builds off that aspect and we come to learn that The Turk is actually a separate entity from Skynet.
Several new elements were introduced into the show for season two, keyed in by the inclusion of new characters. The season explored John Connor’s relationship with Riley (Leven Rambin) who actually turned out to be a sort of spy working for another new character introduced in the second season Jesse Flores (Stephanie Jacobson) who we learn had a relationship with Derek Reese (Brian Austin Greene). What at first seemed to be just an innocent relationship between John and Riley quickly evolved into something much more signficant, via Jesse’s character. That entire segment plays perfectly into the evolving relationship between John and Cameron. Additionally there was an expansion of the Terminator Cromartie who was sent back in time to kill John in the pilot episode. Without spoiling it, his character becomes another called John Henry and he interacts with James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) and Catherine Weaver (Shirley Manson).
And that’s just a bit of the experience, as there are countless sub-plots with the main characters Sarah, John, Cameron and Derek. I’m leaving a lot out of what happened during the season, but rest assured, there are more than enough threads to follow.
Also new to the second season was Shirley Manson who played Catherine Weaver, a shape-shifting Terminator. She’s the head of a high-tech company called ZeiraCorp and the characters motives are mostly masked (is she with Skynet, or against?) throughout most of the season, although by the end there are revelations of where her allegiances lie.
Another key character expanded in the second season is James Ellison (Richard T. Jones). Ellison, an FBI Special Agent tasked with pursuing Sarah Connor, eventually comes around to the realization that Sarah’s stories may not be so out of whack as he initially suspected. That leads him to investigate more and ultimately become aligned with Catherine Weaver (whom he doesn’t know is a Terminator herself).
While the action is certainly there week-to-week, the key element of the series is its characters. Season two did a wonderful job delving into not just Sarah and John, but in the secondary characters as well. Every character gets a good deal of background information and their story arcs continually criss-cross between each other and the sub-plots are just as enjoyable as the main course. To put it simply, the character development is outstanding.
And while the show ends somewhat of a cliffhanger note (I guess that mostly depends on your perspective of the event), there’s also a bit of closure in the way it ends. It’s done in a way that I’m sure is mostly satisfying to fans.
“Commentary Tracks” – Commentary tracks are present on four episodes (“Samson and Deliah”, “Allison From Palmdale”, “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Born to Run”). The commentaries feature executive producer Josh Friedman and various cast and crew.
“The Continuing Chronicles: Terminator – 8-Part Featurette Gallery” – By far the best special feature on the set, this roughly 45-minute featurette is divided into 8 featurettes delving into various aspects of the show including it’s music, writing and characters. One of my favorites was the featurette from the writers room. It’s a really nice behind-the-scenes look into the process of writers breaking in key stories for the season
“Terminator Scenes: Unaired moments (deleted scenes)” – Several episodes contain deleted scenes from the series. I didn’t find anything that particularly stuck out, but nonetheless, it’s always interesting to see what was left off.
“The Storyboard Process: Cameron Goes Bad Illustrates How Key Sequences Are Mapped” – Included in the set is this short three-minute featurette going into detail on how one scene from the series is storyboarded.
“Cameron Vs. Rosie Fight Rehearsal” – The story boarding process is expanded upon in this featurette which as the title implies looks at a fight scene between Cameron and Rosie pre-special effects.
“Gag Reel” – Your standard gag reel rounds out the extras package of this DVD set.
Blu-ray Exclusives? – There is one extra that is exclusive to the Blu-ray set: “Collision with the Future: Deconstructing the Hunter-Killer Attack”. Because I did not review the Blu-ray release, here is what the press release says about this extra: “Interactive exploration of the climactic Hunter Killer attack featured in the Season Two finale. Four simultaneous points of view show all elements of the filmmaking of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles from Production, Direction, Visual Effects, and Special Effects. Additional focus points allow the viewer to explore even more elements of what it took to create this dramatic stunt sequence.”
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a series that plays absolutely perfectly on DVD. It has all the things you look for in a series; an interesting premise, a great cast of characters, excellent writing and an engaging storyline. To top it all off, WB has assembled a solid and varied set of supplements. I highly recommend this DVD set (and Blu-ray) and give the show and DVD a score of 4.5/5.