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 ($30) comes to DVD 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 DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. These shows really look great on DVD and compare very favorably to their Blu-ray Disc counterparts. As I mentioned above, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES has excellent production values, which make for a truly fine standard definition release. The image is rendered with very good levels of sharpness and detail. Colors are nicely saturated and have produce appealing flesh tones. Both the blacks and the whites appear accurate. Contrast and shadow detail donít succumb to sitcom lighting are beyond typical fare, but are not as cleanly rendered as they appear on Blu-ray. There are no flaws in the source materials. Digital compression artifacts are not an issue.
All of the episodes that constitute TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON are presented on DVD with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The sound mixes are a bit thinner than they are on Blu-ray, but hold up well enough. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, while the rears provide some active effects, as well as ambient sounds, and some musical fill. The bass channel does a pretty good job, but lacks the theatrical level punch. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. Portuguese language tracks are also provided for the episodes, as are English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese and Thai subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which 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.
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 DVD release is impressive for standard definition and compares favorably to its Blu-ray Disc counterpart. Highly recommended.
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