Terminate me, Summer!

2008-05-12 11:00
This is why I found myself, a few weeks ago, on duty at the local launch of the new series on M-Net, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (T:TSCC), and wow, those guys laid it on thick. There were gifts, free booze, fantastic food and a special effects-filled live show that made me suspect they’d decided to just blow the entire budget for the proposed second season of The Coconuts rather than subject us to that shit again. And if so, good for them! Now if they’d just do the same with Carte Blanche, I’d be a happy guy. Come on M-Net! Who cares what DA voters think anyway?

Before the party I was told the theme was a Terminator-style post-apocalyptic world, and I wondered if we had to dress the part. No problem for me, since I usually dress like a homeless goth anyway. But as a gesture, I took as my date a girl called Sarah, who showed up at my house this one time. It seemed the least I could do.

We’re herded into a grimy warehouse filled with junk, and right away I feel at home. Actors dressed as hobos mingle with the guests, which make them difficult to spot because most of the guests are entertainment journalists. After a few quick drinks, the live show begins. Resistance fighters burst into the warehouse, shooting behind them with very real-sounding guns. They take up hiding spaces behind bits of furniture. There’s a tense silence. Then suddenly a terminator guy kicks and smashes his way through a wooden wall, and starts acting like Steve Hofmeyr in an editor’s office. Stunts include a woman being thrown, back-first, onto a table filled with bottles which collapses under her. Sma-Crash! A guy goes flying through a window. Ca-Smash! Another, standing on a high ledge, gets shot and falls forward, cowboy style, onto strategically placed boxes below. Crunch-a-Thud! And of course, fiery explosions everywhere. Kablooie!

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” I tell Sarah casually. “My family’s Irish, and we have weddings all the time.”

But I’m secretly impressed. These stunt actors are really good. I don’t recognize any of them, though. Maybe they’re Ukrainians who were lured to the country on the pretext that they would have jobs as prostitutes, but when they got here they were forced into a life of corporate product launches. Poor bastards.

Eventually the resistance force’s firepower is too much for the single terminator and he retreats to a back room, where I hope his pimp will reward his excellent performance with an extra ladle of gruel. We are herded through the war zone and into another huge room filled with wide screen TVs where they screen the show - which you probably want to hear about.

It’s pretty good, actually. If you missed the first one (on Tuesday, 6 May), the series is set after the events of T2: Judgement Day, and to its credit, pretends that T3: Rise of the Machines doesn’t exist. If, like me, you’re a Terminator fan who’s been trying to do the same thing, T:TSCC is here to help you.

Lena Headey plays the total MILF Sarah Connor, who is on the run from, well, everyone, with her teenage son, John (Thomas Dekker). Cameron Phillips is the “good” terminator, sent to protect Sarah and John. She’s played by the immaculate Summer Glau, starring Summer Glau’s enormous forehead. Seriously, that woman, gorgeous as she is, could rent out her head as an IMAX screen.

It’s fairly high budget, even for an American production’s first season, so there’s lots of cool action sequences. It’s been popular enough for Fox to agree to a second season, so at least you know it won’t be disappearing anytime soon. It’s much like any slick action series, only with time travel, killer robots, sexy robots and a sexy killer robot who can time travel. But just to keep you grounded, it’s got the usual crop of bad guys whose aim is so terrible they couldn’t hit the ground if you threw them out of a plane. In a crap TV show, that would be unforgivable. For now, with T:TSCC, I’m prepared to look the other way.

But that might just be the freebies talking.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicales, is on M-Net on Tuesdays at 20h30. Watch it, minions.

- Chris McEvoy

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