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TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
Enjoyable television music should be a treat for fans of the show
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
A surprisingly good television continuation of the Terminator story (which largely ignores the fact that the third film took place), The Sarah Connor Chronicles follows Connor (played by the gorgeous Lena Headey) and her son John, with their robotic protector Cameron (another babe-o-rama) as they attempt to keep him alive and thus save mankind's future. All a bit silly, but good fun, with some memorable rogues cropping up along the way. I must admit that I'm pleased that we're in an age of the long story on television, rather than the old way of having a series of self-contained stories - it's been a good development and has produced several shows of high quality.
The music is from Bear McCreary, most famous of course for his work on another excellent modern show, the Battlestar Galactica reimagining. I feel almost guilty for saying it, given the comments of various people in the booklet, but Brad Fiedel's awful music has always seemed to me to be easily the weakest part of the first two Terminator films. Fortunately McCreary has gone well beyond anything Fiedel attempted - for sure, there's no iconic theme here (brief quotes of the famous Fiedel theme apart) but there's considerably more depth and dramatic instinct. After Shirley Manson's cover of "Samson and Delilah" (arranged by McCreary for the second season's opener) and the brief main title comes the best cue, "Sarah Connor's Theme", heard in the pilot episode and then adapted by McCreary into lots of cues in later episodes. With a touch of warmth, it adds a much-needed human dimension at times when otherwise the show may become that little bit too cold and mechanistic.
This soundtrack album features a large number of similar warm cues, and these are generally all done well, but (inevitably) there is also a pretty large focus on action. The results here are slightly more mixed - the action music is mostly electronic, which is fine, but when the heavy techno (or whatever it's called) is added on it becomes far too much for an old fart like me. "Motorcycle Robot Chase" starts brilliantly, but descends into this awful unlistenable mess which you probably can't possibly enjoy if you were alive at the same time as Elvis, no matter how briefly. A track like "Prisoners of War" (which is still very dark) is rather more appealing.
This is decent television music and makes for a good album. Perhaps it's not quite as distinctive as McCreary's work on Galactica, but it certainly succeeds in giving this show its own musical identity, with a slight tip of the hat to Brad Fiedel but otherwise going its own way. There are some surprisingly moving moments, and the album is sequenced well to keep the interest going throughout. It doesn't quite approach the quality of the finest television music of the current time (step forward, Mr Giacchino) but is a long way ahead of most.