The River Tam Chronicles

River Tam Chronicles

Last night was sort of a perfect geek television night. The listings had “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” which shall hence forth be referred to as The River Tam Chronicles, opposite “Gladiators” but it turned out that Chronicles was on after Gladiators. After watching our first contestant injury courtesy of Meyham, we settled in to watch River Tam kick the shit out of Terminators.

I was sort of iffy on this series when I first heard about it, but I must say that “The River Tam Chronicles” was much better than I thought it would be. The cast is great, the action is decent, and aside from a few nerdy details that just don’t add up at all, it’s overall quite enjoyable.

Lena Headey’s Sarah Connor brings a lot of reflection and softness that was missing from Linda Hamilton’s militant bitch goddess from Terminator 2 which is exactly what we need for a television series. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Linda completely dominate and whup ass is quite awesome. But Sarah Connor needs a little more depth if we’re going to be staying with her season after season and Lena brings both the whup ass and the depth we need. Awesome choice.

Thomas Dekker is far less annoying than Edward Furlong as John Connor. That’s pretty much all I wanted.

Though Richard T. Jones as agent James Ellison gets a full bio on the website, he didn’t get much screen time. He brings much needed diversity to the cast, but since I’ve yet to see him do much of anything, the jury is still out on what role he’ll play. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him join the fight once he learns the truth about the Terminators. You could easily predict that he’ll eventually catch Sarah and get the shit kicked out of him by a Terminator or something along those lines to convert him to a believer. Still, the show rates very low on the Jam Scale.

The break out star is of course Summer Glau as the Terminator Cameron Phillips, clearly a tribute to James Cameron. Her stunt work is quite good. She can really sell a punch. You can see shades of River Tam in her portrayal as the good Terminator attempting to learn more about mankind while kicking major ass. Her character almost has a Data or Spock like quality, the outsider looking in defining humanity for us by pointing out its trivialities and inconsistencies.

Already we’ve seen about four or five Terminators which makes one wonder why Skynet never sent more back in time to take care of business. I predict that the faceless Terminator that shows up in this episode will be a long time series antagonist. You also kind of wonder why the resistance never sent more people back to help protect the Connor line. Also, this show seems to completely ignore the third movie which is probably for the best.

There was a nice little nod to 9/11 in this episode that I thought was done well. Sarah Conner, who has traveled forward in time from 1999, missed the attacks of September 2001. She’s told about the attacks by the man she’s buying new IDs from and upon reflection, she says something to the effect of “Had I been here for the attacks, I would have thought, ‘We failed.'”

It’s still too early to decide if “The River Tam Chronicles” is a worthy successor to the franchise but I like what I’ve seen thus far. I’ll stick with it for a while.

[Via FOX]