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When I first heard the commercials for the television series, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, I thought to myself- hadnít that particular franchise cash cow already been milked dry? Fortunately for TERMINATOR fans (including yours truly), the television series is well conceived, written and acted, not to mention have terrific production values, which certainly dispelled all my fears of it being just a cheap knockoff to fill a weekly timeslot. TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES is set in between the events depicted in the second and third films, but the premise of the television series plays with the notion that the future is always in motion and that time travel has reshuffled the deck, postponing Judgement Day from 1997 to 2011. As the episodes progress, we see that both the machines and John Connor are trying to ensure favorable future outcomes by manipulating the past- Connor sending agents to protect his past self, while the machines have sent terminators to kill the teenage John Connor, thus insuring the creation of Skynet and the annihilation of mankind.

As TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES opens, we find that Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) and her son John (Thomas Dekker) are wanted fugitives, living under assumed identities, and hiding from both the law and potential threats from the future. Walking away from the identities they lived under for the last two years, Sarah and John resurface in a small New Mexico community, where there encounter a new Terminator threat. Fortunately, John has sent himself a new protector back through time- a terminator named Cameron Phillips (Summer Glau), who has the inconspicuous appearance of a really hot teenage girl. As a means of throwing other terminators off their trail, and bringing the trio closer to the objective of preventing Skynet from ever going online, Cameron uses specially built time displacement equipment to propel John, Sarah and herself from 1999 to 2007, where they begin looking for those individuals that will create the machines that will ultimately bring about Judgement Day.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($40) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a thee-disc set that features the following nine episodes that were aired during its freshman year: Pilot, Gnothi Seauton, The Turk, Heavy Metal, Queen's Gambit, Dungeons & Dragons, The Demon Hand, Vick's Chip, What He Beheld. Across season one, we encounter a determined FBI Agent named James Ellison (Richard T. Jones), who has been pursuing Sarah and John since the incident at Cyberdyne Systems, as well as Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green), Johnís biological uncle who was also sent back in time to help prevent Skynet from going online. While our heroes seek to complete their objectives, in the background remains the threat of Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt), a Terminator that has been hunting John since he was deployed into the past in 1999.

Warner Home Video has made all nine episodes from TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. While I thought the show looked great on DVD, the 1080p presentations on Blu-ray are truly outstanding for a television level production. As I mentioned above, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES has excellent production values, which shine through on the Blu-ray release. Image sharpness and clarity, as well as fine detail and depth are all impressive for a weekly television sci-fi action series. Colors are rendered with a nice level of saturation, plus appealing flesh tones. Black and whites are on the money. Additionally, contrast and shadow detail are very strong- obviously, hi-def broadcasting has raised the bar for television production technique. There are no flaws in the source materials, plus neither grain nor video noise seems excessive. Additionally, the image never appears over-processed or artificial.

All of the episodes that constitute TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtracks. These sound mixes are generally pretty darn sweet, but the sound design does seem somewhat constrained by the necessities of over the air broadcasting. Not surprisingly, the forward soundstage remains dominant, with the rear channels providing some nice active effects, as well as ambient sounds, and some musical fill. The bass channel packs neither a theatrical level of rumple nor punch, but it does a pretty good job for a television series. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are included. Again, let me state that somebody really should start mixing genre TV shows like TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES for home theater enthusiasts- perhaps creating a separate aftermarket mix, in addition to one that conforms to broadcast necessities.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Three episodes, Pilot, The Turk and What He Beheld, feature running Audio Commentaries with various cast and production team members. Episode seven, The Demon Hand, is presented in both its Broadcast Version and Extended Cut form. Creating The Chronicles is a three-part look at the series from its conception to arrival on television. A series of Terminated Scenes from Pilot, The Turk and The Demon Hand are also provided, as are Cast Audition Tapes. A Summer Glau Dance Rehearsal, a Storyboard Animatic and a Gag Reel close out the supplements. On a side note, the three-disc Blu-ray packaging needs work- the hubs that are supposed to hold the discs in place do not do a very good job, and really need to be revised.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES is a kick ass television series that exceeded all of my expectations. This is a truly outstanding genre television series that I hope will maintain its high level of quality, thus ensuring that it remains on the air for a very long time. The Blu-ray release is quite excellent for a television production and comes very highly recommended.



Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles - The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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