TV Review: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Desert Cantos

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

The Sarah Connor Chronicles, FOX, Airs Friday 8/7c

Episode: “Desert Cantos” (Season Two, Episode 15)

Synopsis: Sarah and Company attend funeral services for the families who had loved ones that died in the mysterious warehouse explosion. With the segments of the show broken into the parts of the funeral (e.g., Vigil, Processional, etc.), John follows the lead of a father who has disappeared after the explosion while Sarah befriends the widow of the man she killed. Meanwhile, the Garbage Terminator forgets about her hand in the explosion and tries to strike up a relationship with her human counterpart’s daughter… again.

Review: I’d like to think that, like ABC’s Lost, The Sarah Connor Chronicles is using all this chit-chat as a set up for something really, really cool in seasons five and six. After all, for what is supposed to be an action series, there’s a lot of scenes with people simply talking to each other. Even the pretty cool villain that is the Garbage Terminator (Shirley Manson) does an awful lot of flapping her jaw instead of skewering people.

Sure, last week, we had an explosion of violence when the Garbage Terminator tore through the warehouse, but this week, she’s back with her terrified daughter, chatting her up and trying to be more human. And Agent Ellison (Richard T. Jones) is just walking the halls of pre-SkyNet this week.

Sarah, Derek and John seem to be taking it slow as they sift through the lives of the deceased families. Even when they uncover something interesting, like surveillance equipment that has the entire neighborhood under the watchful eyes of the machines, there’s no action whatsoever. Sarah and John threaten the families, but even when they discover some pretty damning evidence, they just stand around looking at it instead of following up.

This episode is indicative of the problems with this series. The background of the universe has already been set up in the films. Then, the television show had to rewrite some of this and spend time building its own off-shoot of the reality. Now, it’s getting lost in its own plotline entanglements. And, being a weekly television series rather than a summer tent-pole release, the promise of action that we had from the movies either gets too silly and expensive (like it did with the weekly Terminator coming through time in the first half of the season), or it becomes too talking and full of exposition (like this episode).

The Sarah Connor Chronicles works against itself. A final battle would end the show, so it doesn’t serve a television series. A revelation of the real villains would also break apart the show, so the Garbage Terminator can only have a brief moment of her real self. And any spectacular action sequence would bankrupt the series. Ultimately, we’re left having to watch the characters mope around and sort-of engage the machines… but not really.

Up Next: Sarah has nightmares for the man she killed in the warehouse, checks into a sleep clinic, then freaks out when she suspects SkyNet is mapping her brain. Call Art Bell!

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Did you watch The Sarah Connor Chroniclesthis week? If so, feel free to discuss below.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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