Saturday, April 11, 2009

Terminator Ends, Probably For Good

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles wraps up the season. The numbers suggest it was the series finale.

The show consistently exceeded my expectations. The writers constantly included little moments to prove they were one step ahead of the audience. A character might say something odd, or make a mistake, another character would inevitably call them on it just as the snarky comment was coming out of your mouth. In this final season, the writers did an excellent job of building to a few surprises, and making you feel like you should have put it all together long ago.

While there were some action sequences, the most notable thing about the show is how grimly it painted the life of John Connor. It stayed near the tone of the first film, not the latter two. In one episode, a psychologist compares John Connor's behavior to that of a combat vet, someone with PTSD. In another, John gets in a fight with another kid and nearly snaps his neck, to the horror of all onlookers. John Connor is not a Christ figure, he is this side of an anti-hero built to fight a coming terror, and you never forget how awful his life is.

The dream episode and the UFO bit were a bit of fluff, but it all tied together rather nicely; at the end of the show, everything fit. Compare with Battlestar Galactica, hailed as a triumph even while so many plotlines (Lee's prostitute, the little kid following Starbuck around in season one) were simply dropped as soon as they got in the way.

The finale of Battlestar Galactica swung 2.364 million viewers. The Terminator numbers for the final episode: 3.6 million. I understand that our expectations for network and cable are different, but it's a sad world where we consider the former a smash success and the latter a failure.

Of course, every time I read the Nielsen blogs, I get depressed. The Wire will never be seen by as many people as NCIS. Moreover, almost all television pales next to the unstoppable power of WWE RAW.