Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 1

Movie •••½ Picture •••• Sound •••• Extras •••½
Can a great TV drama have an endoskeleton as one of its stars? The foundation for future excellence has been poured for this high-concept series, where the lead characters of the movie franchise fight to stave off the Judgment Day made famous in Terminator 2, the still-awesome 1991 James Cameron/Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic.

The storyline of Man vs. Machine truly gels in Episode 6. Saved for shooting at the end of the production schedule for this nine-episode, writers'-strike-shortened inaugural season, it was given the biggest individual budget. While not quite up to feature-film standards, the look of the debris-strewn battlefield and the ravaged engine turbine dragged by shiny, blue-hued, skinless CG'ed Terminators comes across relatively crisp in 1080p on Blu-ray Disc. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gets a real workout here, as your subwoofer should rumble ominously during the centaur patrol, and all channels should assault accordingly throughout the aircraft attacks. You'll also dig the subtle rear fill of the playful but creepy piano music that emanates from the basement of the house where the resistance fighters are shackled. In all episodes, the iconic industrial/metallic score is a welcome presence, especially when it comes to delivering a consistently impactful low end.

The extras on this triple-disc set get it mostly right. A three-part high-def look at the production process goes deep, as we see the development of the "bipedal tanks" and find out how actress Summer Glau lost her "human habits" to play a Terminator. Three commentaries with tag-teaming creators and actors veer from the informative to the innocuous, while a number of Terminated Scenes fill in some key plot holes.

It's heartening that the Chronicles are back for another season, as this set is an encouraging opening gambit.