Alright it's Terminator's time in the spot light. Terminator is one of only two shows to premiere in 2008 which I thought were actually decent. Okay Mentalist and Fringe are getting there (actually I'm still quite disappointed in Fringe despite an amazing last episode before hiatus). So Breaking Bad and Terminator are the only shows to make it onto this list. Breaking Bad might end up being the better overall show but Terminator has shown some stunning episodes (although recently it's become far too bogged down in just an odd storyline). However I will say that Terminator has had some of the best episodes I've seen in 2008. Season 2 is definitely better than Season 1. I will also say that the first eight episodes of Season 2 are quite possibly one of the strongest strings of episodes I've seen of any show ever. I'll go into that later.
The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the movie that Terminator 3 should have been. For starters we actually have Sarah Connor. Also it isn't uniformly shit. Yes I hate Terminator 3, it is an appalling movie and completely sullies Terminator and Terminator 2, just like Alien 3 and Resurrection sully Alien and Aliens. I have no completely stricken Terminator 3 from the continuity and am happy to believe that this is where the Terminator series will go (although Terminator Salvation has already confirmed that there will not be a cross-over with Sarah Connor Chronicles).
So the story of Sarah Connor Chronicles is that John (Thomas Dekker) and Sarah (Lena Heady) are still trying to take down Skynet. However in the future, Skynet sends a Terminator called Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt) to kill John. However the resistance also sends back a Terminator named Cameron Phillips (Summer Glau) to protect John and Sarah. So really this is exactly the same as all the other Terminator films except that this one has a lack of Arnold Schwarzenegger, however don't fret Summer Glau and Garret Dillahunt make up for him with some amazing performances as their respective Terminators.
Sarah Connor Chronicles adds some new layers to the Terminator mythos. For starters the Terminators aren't just sent back to kill John, instead they're sent back to kill all sorts of people involved in the resistance against the machines in the future. There is also the computer which would seem to be what will become Skynet in the future which is no being taught the difference between right and wrong by the Agent Ellision (Richard T. Jones) and T-1001 Catherine Weaver (Shirely Manson). There's the introduction of Kyle Reese's brother Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) who plays an important role in the story. Plus there is the romance between John and Cameron. There's also an unauthorised team sent back in time to stop them. Oh and the exceedingly annoying three dots.
Whilst a lot of these are really interesting (the whole story involving the future Skynet is awesome) but other stuff like the three dots have become annoying. However the show is still fantastic. I can let the show off for all of the storylines in the last two or three episodes because it was amazingly strong up until this point and was also going to be potentially canceled which meant that they needed some way to wrap so many questions that had been asked, admittedly by making the story a lot more confusing (and not confusing in the Lost way where it still sort of makes sense). The show was amazingly strong for most of this year and I can't wait for it to come back in February (even if it will probably be it's last ever episode).
The show also doesn't really suffer from "Terminator of the week". Whilst that would seemingly be the only way that a show called Terminator would work, it doesn't. In fact four my favourite episodes: Samson and Delilah, The Mousetrap, Allison from Palmdale and Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today. All are heavily to do with the mythos and all of them deal with one or two of the three characters in the main cast who are Terminators. So I'm just going to go into all three briefly.
Samson and Delilah - One of the strongest premieres of the season. Takes place literally moments after Season 1 finishes and plays amazingly on the concept of "what happens if Cameron goes bad?" The entire 40 minutes is probably the closest to the actually Terminator movies in that it is a massive chase scene. It also has one of the best opening scenes to any season premiere ever (not quite Lost season but still fucking amazing).
The Mousetrap - The last episode to feature Charley (Dean Winters). In it we get the culmination of that story with Charley's wife being kidnapped (played wonderfully by Sonya Walger or Penny in Lost). The entire episode is just a cool little story about the Terminator taking an active stance in trying to kill John Connor by taking his protectors out of the picture. It's a fun episode that ends on a very bum note in that a character dies.
Allison from Palmdale - The long awaited episode that delves into Cameron's past. Cameron goes crazy in a supermarket and ends up wandering off with some random girl who likes to steal things. Interspersed with flashforwards to the future we find out who exactly Allison is and how she is related to Cameron (trust me it's a great twist to the story).
Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today - This is the episode that made Terminator one of my must see shows. Told through non-linear progression from the point of view of almost all the series regulars we got this stunningly told story that culminates in the death in one of the coolest characters that the show had given us.
Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles is everything that made Terminator rock. It is far better than Terminator 3. It is a great sci-fi TV series which is being treated horribly by Fox. Here's hoping that the show continues to be awesome in 2009 and also that if it is awesome that it gets a third season.