Is it sacrilege to say that “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” packed a more pleasing punch than either of the last two “Terminator” movies? Because it’s true. With its second “ and, sadly, final “ season now out on DVD, you can judge for yourself.
The show continues to serve as a prequel to all four of the films, focusing on Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) keeping her son, John (Thomas Dekker) safe, because one day, he’s going to save Earth from a killer robot uprising. Several of these “Terminators” travel back to our time to execute him before he has the chance to age enough to fulfill his destiny, but at least he has a good model, Cameron (Summer Glau), on his side. And I do mean “model!”
Season two grows out of the first year’s “run and hide” template, expanding the plot lines beyond the mere chase. Cameron goes bad for a bit after damaging her chip, and grows to show “ or at least emulate “ more human emotions. John gets fed up with his mother, and gains a girlfriend (Leven Rambin), whom he realizes he can’t have without putting her life in danger, too.
Recurring players from season one get their roles expanded, specifically good guy Derek Reese (Brian Austin Greene) and bad guy John Henry (Garret Dillahunt). Joining the cast as another Terminator is Garbage singer Shirley Manson, disguised as an icy corporate executive, but obviously Very Evil.
Unlike “Heroes,” the show plays for keeps, meaning events have lasting repercussions, however tragic. Action abounds, as the series provides excellent special effects, at a level beyond what one normally gets from prime-time television, science fiction or otherwise. Story arcs introduce a UFO-centric mystery and a futuristic nuclear submarine, all of which expand the show’s mythology, which unfortunately, it will never be able to complete.
A full 22 episodes are included among six discs, all in glorious widescreen. Commentaries dot select episodes, but the real heavy metal is found in the behind-the-scenes featurettes, each devoted to a specific creative element. Don’t miss the gag reel, which showcases a testy Dekker and a couple of choice effects shots that didn’t go as planned.