While we don't normally cover TV at ReelzChannel, this weekend's debut of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles directly connects to one of the most popular franchises in the history of cinema. And right now is a good time to be a Terminator fan. The series debuts this Sunday and the early critical word is that it's actually pretty good. On the movie front, Christian Bale was recently cast as John Connor in the forthcoming fourth Terminator film, tentatively titled Terminator: Salvation. The Terminator Universe is heading into full swing on the big and small screens.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles picks up just after the events of Terminator 2. Sarah (Lena Headey, 300) and her son John (Thomas Dekker) are fugitives running from a never-ending stream of Terminator machines sent from the future to kill John Connor. When John takes on a new classmate named Cameron (a nod to series creator James Cameron) as a confidante, he soon learns that Cameron is actually a cyborg assigned to protect Sarah and John from future Terminators sent from the future by the machines. James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) is an F.B.I. agent on the trail of the future saviors of mankind who will soon become an important ally.
But don't worry, you only need to see the first two Terminator films to be ready for The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Or better yet, read through this very handy guide for anything and everything you could ever want to know about the Terminator universe leading up to the show. (note: this guide will not include Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines since the events of that film take place after the events of the new show).
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, T1, T2) - The mother of the John Connor, leader of the future human resistance. After learning of the grim future brought on by Judgment Day, Connor led a crusade with the help of her son and a re-programmed T-800 to destroy Cyberdyne and thus prevent Judgement Day entirely. But since the future is being rewritten every day thanks to the aid of time travel, Sarah and John are forever on the alert.
The Three Faces of Sarah Connor:
(From left to right: Linda Hamilton transitioned from the easy 80s party girl Sarah of Terminator to the stoic, badass Sarah of T2. Lena Headey's Chronicles version, with the T1's big hair and T2's muscles, looks like something in between.)
John Connor (Edward Furlong, T2) – Leader of the human resistance against the machines. In 2029, Connor would successfully lead a team to destroy the defense grid and win the war against the machines. Although this first appeared to be the final victory of the humans over the machines, the forward-thinking machines decided to send a series of Terminator units into the past to either prevent John's existence entirely or kill him before he could lead the resistence.
Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn, T1) – Sergeant, Tech-Com DN 38416 for the human resistance serving under John Connor in the 132nd Division. He was sent back from 2029 A.D. to the year 1984 and assigned to protect Sarah Connor from a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 unit sent back from 2027 to kill Sarah before the birth of her son John. Did you get all that? And oh yeah, Reese would also become the father of John Connor by impregnating Sarah while on his trip, though it's unclear if this had always been the case. If so, then Reese was serving for his son in the future...
Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen, T1, T2) – Dr. Silberman is the police station shrink who first meets Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in 1984 when they are picked up by police after a car chase. Sarah would later be placed in his care after trying to blow up a computer company. Silberman generally considered Sarah to be insane.
Miles Dyson (Joe Morton, T2) – Working from the CPU of the T-800 found at the factory in 1984, Dyson created a neural net processor that would lead to the development of Skynet. He would be approached by Sarah, John and a T-800 unit in the 90's and told his work was destined to destroy mankind. He would give his own life fighting to destroy Cyberdyne.
Lieutenant Ed Traxler (Paul Winfield, T1) – The officer who is trying to track down Sarah in 1984 upon the realization that two Sarah Connor’s have been killed in the exact order they are listing in the phonebook. In the deleted scenes from T1, Traxler is shown to be the only officer who might believe in Reese’s story of the future. Also in the deleted scenes, Traxler gives Reese a gun after he has been shot by the Terminator and tells him that he to keep Sarah alive. He dies at the station that night.
Detective Hal Vukovich (Lance Henriksen, T1) – Officer tracking Sarah and Kyle. He is killed by the T-800 when it comes to the station for Sarah.
Ginger Ventura (Bess Motta, T1) – Sarah Connor’s permiscuous roommate perenially seen bopping around to cheesy 80's music on her Walkman. She was brutally gunned down by the T-800 while in the midst of a post-coitus midnight snack.
Face-licking Orderly – Coke-bottle glasses-wearing pervert orderly at mental hospital who licks Sarah’s face while she lies still. This helps to make the scene in which Sarah brutally beats him to death with a nightstick seem more justified.
Terminator Model T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger, T1, T2) – Cyberdyne Infiltration Unit. Part-Man/Part-Machine Cyborg. Underneath the skin the 800 model has a hyper-alloyed combat chassis that is microprocessor-controlled. It is fully armored. On the outside it has living tissue – flesh, skin, hair, blood, etc. specially grown for the cyborgs. They are made to look and act human. They even sweat and have bad breath.
Key Quote: “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead.” – Kyle Reese
Terminator 600 Series (never actually seen on screen) – Cyberdyne’s first Cyborg unit. Generally easily distinguished by their rubber skin.
Terminator Model T-1000 (Robert Patrick, T2) - An advanced prototype unit made of a special Mimetic Poly-Alloy (Liquid Metal). It can morph into objects equal in size, but cannot form complex machines like guns or vehicles. It generally morphs into humans and various stabbing weapons. This unit was sent back in time to kill John Conner in his early teens.
Hunter Killers (HK’s) – patrol machines built in automated factories. Their general purpose is to hunt down and terminate survivors of the nuclear war. They use infrared for night hunting.
Key Quote: “They’re not too bright.” – Kyle Reese
May 12, 1984 – A Cyberdyne Systems model T-800 Unit is sent back from 2029 to terminate Sarah Connor. Kyle Reese is a human soldier fighting the machines sent back in time to protect Connor from the T-800. In 2029, the human resistance has just smashed the defense grid and won the war against the machines. The only hope for the machines is to travel back and prevent John Connor’s entire existence.
February 28, 1985 – John Connor is born.
Somewhere between 1985 and 1992 - Cyberdyne Systems, a manufacturing company out of Sunnyvale, CA. would grow to become a major tech company using the technology from the CPU parts of the T-800 found at the factory where Sarah crushed the Terminator at the end of T1. They would ultimately develop a series of advanced military technology, including the catastrophic Skynet.
1992 – 1995 – Sarah Connor tries to blow up a computer factory but fails. She is arrested and John is sent to live with foster parents. The prototype T-1000 is sent back to Terminate John Connor, but the resistance has re-programmed a T-800 unit to travel back and serve as John's protector.
May 12, 1995 – Terminator artifacts and Cyberdyne backups destroyed.
August 29, 1997 – A network of supercomputers that employ artificial intelligence in order to replace human beings as commercial and military aircraft pilots, and for the control of other military systems, including nuclear weapons (source: Wikipedia). When Skynet launched, it became self-aware. Three billion human lives ended on this day when Skynet launched a nuclear attack against Russia in order to trigger a counterattack that would destroy the humans. This would come to be referred to as “Judgment Day.”
2029 A.D. – A devastating blow is dealt to Skynet when their defense grid is smashed. Skynet sends a T-800 back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor before John Connor is born. A second prototype model, the T-1000, is sent to 1995 to kill the child John Connor. This rotation of time-traveling killers and protectors continues throughout the world of The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Fun Terminator Trivia
Lance Henricksen, who portrays Detective Hal Vukovich in the first Terminator film, was initially cast to play the T-800.
O.J. Simpson was considered to play the T-800 as well, but Cameron did not think that "such a nice guy could be a ruthless killer."
Schwarzenegger and Biehn nearly ended up on the other side of the coin. Biehn was initially considered for the T-800 role, which Schwarzenegger was offered the role of Reese. And if that had been the case, I probably wouldn't be writing this guide right now.
Bill Paxton plays one of the punks that the T-800 steals clothes from in the beginning of the first film. Paxton sports a purple spiked mohawk and tire treads across his face. Although the T-800 punches a hole through one of the punks, he only flings Paxton and the other guy through the air. Paxton is never shown being killed by the Terminator, making him readily available for a return in T4.
In the deleted scenes from T1, Sarah tears a listing out of the phonebook for Cyberdyne Systems. She suggests to Reese that they destroy the company and prevent the war (This would become the plotline of T2). Reese tells her it is too risky and that it is not his mission.
In a deleted scene from T1, a guy at the factory finds a microchip from the T-800. He gives it to a worker to take to the Research and Development Department.
In T2, John Connor wears a Public Enemy T-shirt. Public Enemy’s DJ was nicknamed “Terminator X” after the first film.
The date of the fictional Judgment Day - 29 August 1997 - is the anniversary of the Soviet Union's first detonation of an atomic bomb in 1949.
Did our guide miss any key Terminator factoids you'd like to see included? Drop us a line and we will do our best to make this the definitive guide for the new series.