New on DVD
'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles -- The Complete First Season'
'Terminator' spin-off began finding itself at the end of the season... Find out when
Branching off from one of cinema's most successful action franchises, the show seemed constantly to be justifying its own existence. How would it avoid violating the mythology established in James Cameron's first two films? How would it deliver big screen sci-fi and thrillers on a TV budget? How would stars Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker tackle their iconic characters? How would "T: TSCC" exist within the "Terminator" universe and respect the universe's rules, but still stand alone?
The writers strike did "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" few favors and in its first nine episodes, as the show stumbled and crawled more than a little bit, figuring out how to follow the lives of Sarah Connor (Headey), future Savior of Humanity John Connor (Dekker) and friendly and sexy cyborg Cameron (Summer Glau) without resorting to a chase-per-week or the sort of mass Terminator-generated carnage that would raise attention and costs. To some degree, "T: TSCC" found itself with the introduction of Brian Austin Green's Derek Reese, who produced drama in the present and continuity to the future and the past (time is funny in the "Terminator" universe).
The truncated run ended on an interesting enough note that the DVD for the first season (available on Tuesday, Aug. 19) is worth catching up on just in case "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" has finally find its voice.
DVD Bonus Features:
The Good: The package is slim and economical, packing the nine episodes onto three discs each including three episodes and a scattering of bonus features. It's priced to match. Three commentary tracks -- on the pilot, finale and "The Turk" -- by series developer Josh Friedman and a scattering of actors and writers aren't wildly entertaining, but they cover the team's reverence for the original property and their thoughts on moving things forward. The general respect for the franchise is a running theme in the three-part "Creating the Chronicles" behind-the-scenes featurette as well. A number of deleted scenes are standouts, including the extended version of the shooting that opens the pilot and had to be trimmed after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I enjoyed seeing Headey's audition tape, which appears to have been done via satellite, while completists will be interested in the 52-minute cut of "The Demon Hand," the season's mythology-rich seventh episode.
The Bad: I'm a fan of logic and flow in my DVD packages and "T: TSCC" fails dismally, with the featurette focusing on the future episode, "Dungeons and Dragons" on the first disc (the episode on the second), the animatic of the school attack from the pilot is on the second disc and the dance rehearsal from Glau's "The Demon Hand" episode is on the second disc (the ep is on the third). It shouldn't have been so hard to make those things line up, should it? The aforementioned dance rehearsal footage -- advertised prominently on the DVD box because, well, Glau is hot -- amounts to little more than 90 seconds of video, while the gag reel is mighty lackluster.
The Price: $29.98