Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has all the ingredients for an awesome ride: Lena Headey's angry commando mom, widescreen action sequences — and naked Summer Glau kicking ass, in this clip. We won't know for a while if the show can sustain this level of excitement every week. For now, though, we're psyched — and we've done a comparison for you between the unaired pilot and the one that did air. You'll discover that Sarah Connor's character was seriously wimpified.
One reason the pilot moves so fast is to haul us from the status quo at the end of Terminator 2 to the show's new status. At the start, Sarah and John Connor are still hiding out, but they think they've averted the creation of Skynet and the war against the machines. They find out differently when a Terminator shows up to kill John, and a nice Terminator (Glau) comes to the rescue. The Connors decide to try once again to prevent Skynet from ever happening. Several bad-ass action sequences later, they find a time machine and jump forward to 2007, the new start date for Skynet. (And that's why Glau ends up naked and kick-boxing.)
We also meet some new supporting cast members: the FBI agent who's chasing Sarah Connor, Tommy Lee Jones style, and the fiance she ran out on. So the Terminators, the Feds and the fiance will all be on her ass every week. The searching-for-Skynet plot is the show's best hope of not feeling like a weekly cat-and-mouse game.
There are a few bad signs: Summer Glau is great as a killing machine, but not so great when she's pretending to be a normal girl at first. So if it's true that future episodes will feature her character going to school with John and trying to act normal, that could be an issue. Thomas Dekker, as John Connor, has a bit of a mouth-breathing issue.
And then there's the wimpifying of Sarah Connor's character. It seems to be pretty deliberate, and is a major bad sign for the show. The original pilot which circulated nine months ago showed her character as a non-stop hardass. Her only weakness was an excess of paranoia and rage, which threatened to drive her son away. The televised pilot adds a new scene, where Summer Glau is stitching up Sarah Connor's wounds. Lena Headey, as Connor, whimpers and says that she can't keep running or she'll lose her mind. And her son will leave her. It feels as though the network wrote saying, "Have her show more weakness." And you can bet those moments of weakness will be written into future episodes as well.
And then there's the final monologue. Here's the original version. Note also the original actor playing Sarah's fiance:And then here's the televised version, with a nice outdoor swingset scene instead of the indoor gun-flexing: