The Sarah Connor Chronicles Review

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The rage against the machines hits TV...


You could be forgiven for initially dismissing this spin-off as a cheap cash-in with dodgy logic (how come, if a Terminator’s head contains its chip, its bonceless body can still move around?). But James Cameron’s name on the writing credits and the sight of a newly rebuilt T unit sitting in a bath of blood go a long way towards making up for certain technological flaws and Lena Headey’s eyebrow acting.

Set two years after the events of T2, Sarah Connor (Headey) and her future leader son John (Heroes’ Thomas Dekker) time-jump from 1998 to 2007 to discover who really originated Skynet. While a Terminator (The 4400’s Garret Dillahunt) is programmed to hunt them down, a new machine (Firefly’s Summer Glau - deliciously named Cameron) is on hand to protect them.

Sympathetic in a way that the similarly apocalyptic Heroes has never really quite managed, this balances mammoth action sequences with wit and characterisation, while providing enough background for newbies and nods for fans of the films. Dekker fits John well, though it’s a shame that Glau doesn’t get to develop much beyond her blank-faced roles in Firefly and The 4400, despite being a foil for many of the better lines. But Lena Headey is the real star here. Despite playing the harried hero card a little too often, she juggles Sarah’s harsh side with the motherly concern for John that gives Chronicles its emotional backbone.

The writers’ strike meant Chronicles’ original run of 13 episodes was cut short to these nine, which shows in the hastily tied-up ending. But, with critic and fan praise leading to season two being greenlit, and the interesting prospect of Garbarge’s Shirley Manson cutting her teeth as a new regular, this should pick up next time round.