Prepare To Be Regurgitated

13-Feb-07 1:42 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; 10 comments.

Terminator 2, added this week to the iTunes Store, is one of the three best films ever made. Intense action sequences, gut-wrenchingly authentic emotions, and surprising, jaw-dropping special effects (for 1991) warrant T2 being the only film I've purchased on DVD more than twice.

I made a point of watching the film on August 29th, 1997, the supposed Judgment Day. If only the franchise had ended there: Terminator 3 is best summed up in the final words of my review. "A great movie? Yes. A great Terminator film? No."

Now, the blasphemy continues: the tenth anniversary of the war against the machines will be commemorated with The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a television series detailing the years between the second and third films. (News courtesy of StarTrek.com)

I question Terminator's capacity to exist in this medium. Are we looking at an Incredible Hulk-type "wandering hero" format, with Sarah and John Connor, on the lam from the future, doing good deeds until a robotic Mr. McGee catches up with them? Will it have the budget for action sequences that made the first two films so legendary? How will the show tie into next year's supposed Terminator 4 film? Never mind that this show will be the first incarnation of the series to omit Arnold Schwarzenegger. But hey, it worked for Predator, right? Err…

I can't think of any movie that has successfully spun off into a television series: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Uncle Buck… well, okay, there's Buffy. So maybe the rule of thumb is that, between a movie and a TV show, at least one will bite. If so, Terminator passed that threshold long ago.

Though I'm thrilled at (and jealous of) the opportunity of an actress from my hometown to attach her name to as geeky a franchise as this, I'd rather the series had been terminated gracefully sixteen years ago.

10 Responses to “Prepare To Be Regurgitated”

  1. peterw adds:

    I'd say M*A*S*H qualifies as another successful movie-to-TV migration!

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  2. Dayton Ward adds:

    If it's like most TV shows, Sarah won't embrace the continuity of its movie origins and will instead strike out on its own using the general theme as its starting point. Worked for M*A*S*H in spades, and to a lesser extent in shows like Highlander, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, etc. (The fact that I had to think for another example pretty much supports the point that TV shows spun from movies rarely do well.)

    As for Sarah's premise, I imagine the Fugitive format will play a large role, but then again, maybe the producers have found a way to keep that tried-n-true approach fresh.

    I know, pull on this leg and it plays "Jingle Bells."

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  3. Ken Gagne adds:

    And who can forget the resounding success of Starman?

    You're right that Chronicles will probably be very different in style from the movie. But won't people who like the movie be expecting something similar? If so, seems more like an attempt to cash in on name recognition.

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  4. Dayton Ward adds:

    I wonder if they'll take a Smallville approach to things, sort of straddling a line between established continuity and putting their own spin on things, as well as just outright creating stuff that's at odds with the other source material but which works within the "universe" established for their show.

    If my recollection of the backstory from T2 and T3 is right, they didn't spend all those intervening years dodging terminators and other crap sent from the future. They essentially laid low, trained, and waited. Essential for survival, but pretty boring for a weekly series if viewers tune in looking for cyborgs and whatnot. Being a slave to the film continuity doesn't serve them here.

    So, do they do the Fugitive/Incredible Hulk/Nowhere Man/etc. thing and go from place to place dodging trouble from corrupt cops/vengeful rednecks/aggrieved road ragers/whatever in an attempt to stay true to what's known about the characters from the films, or pull a Smallville/Highlander and pretty much re-invent the mythos for their own purposes?

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  5. Dayton Ward adds:

    It took a comment to another entry to make me realize that I'd forgotten a prime example of a successful TV show spun from a movie: Stargate SG-1. How in the world could I have forgotten that one?

    It remains to be seen if Stargate Atlantis has the same kind of longevity, but I know its fans are as supportive and passionate as any other fandom you'd care to name. :)

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  6. Ken Gagne adds:

    Now playing on RiffTrax: Terminator 3!

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  7. Ken Gagne adds:

    According to StarTrek.com, this show will "materialize in midseason [and] is slated for Sunday nights at 9:00 — the slot that worked so well for The X-Files — right after Family Guy, and will air without repeats."

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  8. Dayton Ward adds:

    I saw that last week when the networks announced their 07-08 lineups. I'm willing to give it a go and see what happens.

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  9. Ken Gagne adds:

    There's a great article over at ComingSoon.net that looks at the setting, atmosphere, characters, and actors of this series. Great news is that Summer Glau, who played River Tam on Firefly, will be a central character.

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  10. Ken Gagne adds:

    According to ComingSoon.net, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles premier[es] Monday, Jan. 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on Fox." There's a two-minute trailer available. Looks like it stars the kid who plays Zach on Heroes.

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