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Well, it looks like Judgement Day has taken its toll and the robot apocalypse is well and truly upon us. Despite the best laid plans by James Cameron, Jonathan Mostow, McG, and Alan Taylor, the #Terminator franchise has finally powered down after five films and 33 years. The news comes that the reported sequel to Terminator Genisys has found itself on the Skynet scrapheap alongside the titular Terminator #ArnoldSchwarzenegger. Given his recent departure from The New Celebrity Apprentice, at least we know Arnie isn't leaving his role in robotics to continue his reality television aspirations.
One part of the Terminator world that has failed to rust over all these years is the short-lived #TheSarahConnorChronicles, lasting just two seasons and 31 episodes, it starred Game of Thrones superstar Lena Headey and a not-so-superstar Thomas Dekker, rounded off by Joss Whedon favorite Summer Glau. A faithful homage that picked up the story after Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Chronicles did possibly the best move ever and completely retconned Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and therefore all that came after it — I'm looking at you Genisys.
So, while the Genisys trilogy may be canned and it is Hasta la vista Arnie, The Sarah Connor Chronicles offers the blinking red light just next to a reset button, and a reminder that the small-screen could be Terminator's next big adventure to reignite the spark in the robotic rampage.
It may be an odd comparison, but think of Chronicles as a precursor to Bryan Fuller's Hannibal. Sure, battling cyborgs may not be as artistic as Mads Mikkelsen sewing someone inside a horse, however, at times, both shows were too clever for their own good. The emotional backdrop of John and his immediate friends and family was what set Chronicles apart from the two-hour snippets of his world we had seen in the feature-film outings. Sadly, networks will only ever look at ratings, and with Chronicles swapping out pyrotechnics with family dinners, it was never going to survive on a big-bang network like Fox.
The two ideas seemed to grate, while the showrunners preferred the show's Tarantino-esque talk scenes and developing a new tangent for John and Sarah, Fox would rather Chronicles blew a hole in the side of a building. Creator Josh Friedman wasn't willing to change his vision for the show, so like NBC did with Hannibal, Chronicles was granted a mercy stay to see how it did. As Season 2 wrapped, all went quiet, and the show shuffled off into the night. With crowdsourcing, petitions, and YouTube recreations, the Chronicles cult is still alive and kicking, and with a gap in the Terminator market, it could be now or never!
Skynetflix and Chill
#Netflix's original shows (on the whole) are a runaway success, while even the weaker ones *cough Iron Fist *cough* receive so much backing and marketing, it is hard for them to fail. Just look at From Dusk Till Dawn, which took a dried out film franchise and reinvented it for the VOD culture we currently find ourselves in. We have seen the Terminator franchise rise from the molten metal before to live another day, while Chronicles offers not only a way to appease diehard fans, but to bring in a new fanbase too.
You could argue that television viewers are actually more loyal than those who head to cinemas. Investing hours in a show rather than 120 minutes and a box of popcorn is no small feat, so those who watched every episode of Chronicles are actually more of an aficionado than those who have (somehow) made it through all five Terminator feature-films.
Secondly, the streaming giant is particularly great with #scifi. Tune in for one episode of Stranger Things or Sense8 and find yourself instantly hooked. Even AMC's The Walking Dead can get called out for its dodgy CGI deers, but watching a Netflix show, it is easy to forget you aren't watching a sprawling sci-fi epic, while the effects are wonderful. Now you have your outlet, but who is the man or woman to helm this mighty behemoth?
While Robert Rodriguez may have returned for From Dusk Till Dawn, as Arnie shows us, bringing back the original talent may not always be the right path to take. Fanboys are too quick to gush over the possibility of James Cameron picking up the reigns once more after the critically acclaimed T2, but I say no, give it back to Josh Friedman. Up until now, the Chronicles creator has kept his vow to never reveal how the show would've continued, so, does this mean he is keeping it a secret for a reason? With Friedman's secrecy, and a cliffhanger ending, fans are still chomping at the bit.
Chronicles showed how the mastery of what Cameron created can be continued, and although I hate to say it, at times was actually better. Chronicles already retconned the world after Judgement Day, so do we really want to see another "new" new imagining?
You only have to look at the cinematic version to see that clearly there is something wrong in the circuitry. A big-budget Terminator film has now failed with its last two outings, while the ratings have been in decline since Cameron's 1991 sequel. Judgement Day scored a whopping 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while T3 still ruled with 70 percent, followed by a massive slump for Salvation at 33 percent, and an abysmal 25 percent for Genisys. Even the power of a name like James Cameron can't save a franchise that is beyond repair, so how about we save a couple of hundred million and risk it on the small screen, what's the worst that could happen?
Ditch the Label
The Sarah Connor Chronicles wasn't perfect though, with many rightfully citing that the Terminator affiliation may actually have been its downfall. The relationship between the Connor clan actually became one of the more mundane parts of the proceedings. The problem is that Sarah Connor will always be an angry survivor trying to protect her son, which is a story you can only tell so many times. Elsewhere, John represents something much more interesting: a boy who we have seen grow into a troubled man and forced into something he doesn't want.
Where the show always strived was with Summer Glau's Cameron, a complex character who became the show's unofficial Arnie and a poster girl for the series. The Terminator name also brought with it big expectations and again the James Cameron curse struck. For those who tuned in expecting to see a wild stunt with a HGV, or a high-speed car chase, you would have to wait a good few episodes. Friedman didn't want to emulate Cameron's work, he wanted to move the story on!
Many complained that Ridley Scott's Prometheus desecrated his original Alien, swapping out the atmospheric bowels of a spaceship for sprawling settings and big-name cast members. However, at its core, Prometheus took a story that was already 38 years old and reinvented it for people that might not even have heard of a Xenomorph. In fact, most weren't even able to tell that Prometheus had any connection to Alien. The Prometheus sequel (Covenant) may have adopted the Alien prefix, but maybe a Terminator continuation could work in reverse?
Time to terminate Sarah Connor?
We don't need the name Terminator stamped all over something to know what it means. Just look at Whedon's Serenity, a continuation of #TV series Firefly without branding Firefly: The Serenity Chronicles all over it. It was a clever move that didn't do the feature-film or the series any harm at all. The Season 2 finale of Chronicles was a terrific twist that took the show in a bold new direction, sadly, a direction that was stopped short. It also offered a simple solution to the Terminator problem: The finale jumped forward to see John in a future where no one knew him and indeed it seemed possible that Sarah Connor was dead. Of course it would be open to a Connor return, which could perfectly tie into Headey's release from Game of Thrones, but controversially, I say leave her out.
In a similar way to the departure of Arnie, what would happen if Sarah didn't return to The Sarah Connor Chronicles? If the Alien franchise can survive without its hardened heroine, why can't Terminator? Arguably, Sarah isn't really worthy of chronicling, and has had more than her fair share of screen time thanks to Linda Hamilton's stellar performance. A TV continuation of the Terminator lore should chart John's rise to reluctant leader against Skynet, while still combining parts of the Terminator franchise and elements of The Sarah Chronicles; let's call it The Connor Chronicles, which works for me. Whatever happens next, no one can truly terminate the Terminator. In the words of Arnie himself, "I'll be back," it just depends how!