The Terminator saga has been an interesting one, to say the very least. The general consensus among critics is that the first two installments can be counted among some of the best sci-fi movies ever made. Once James Cameron left though, things took a turn. Both Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation proved to be duds, in 2003 and 2009 respectively, forever tainting our memories of a once-proud franchise. Between those two movies, a TV show rose (and then quickly fell) in 2007 in the shape of The Sarah Connor Chronicles on FOX.
Keeping in mind that this is the same network that canceled Firefly after just one season four years prior, it should come as no surprise that The Sarah Connor Chronicles had a similar fate befall its short-lived run. For its time though, it was actually a solid show that told a compelling story. Its only real sin was that it debuted right before the era of the full-on franchise had kicked into full gear, with Iron Man in 2008 getting things started.
Nowadays, a TV show accompanying a storied film franchise is a slam dunk, evidenced by the massive success of ABC’s Agents of SHIELD. Back in 2007, that wasn’t quite the case. Sci-fi shows like Sarah Connor and Firefly were beloved only in a cult-following capacity, with few options for survival on streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu yet made available. Fast forward to today, and the climate may very well be perfect for the planned Terminator series that’s been in development for the last two years. They even have the same writers from The Sarah Connor Chronicles on board, demonstrating a clear attempt to leverage the same idea in a much different (and eminently friendlier) time period for sci-fi television.
All this news is arriving directly before the release of the newest addition to the series in theaters, Terminator: Genisys. In what’s been one of the biggest years for franchise blockbusters, you can bet Paramount is hoping to capitalize on that trend. If Genisys finds itself on the level of movies like Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron, odds are the accompanying TV show will be rushed into production. The studio (Paramount in this case) will be keeping a close eye on the box office this coming weekend, knowing full well that it faces either a Marvel-esque franchise explosion or another disappointing Sarah Connor Chronicles situation.
Early reviews for Genisys are far from positive, despite their relative scarcity leading up to the release (Rotten Tomatoes currently has just 12 reviews that make up a 33% positive rating). Variety calls it a “time-shuffling reboot of a series whose best days are long behind it,” while Hollywood Reporter notes its “rote and unimaginative” plotline. If this translates into a less-than-stellar opening weekend, we could very well find the planned television show dead in the water before it even airs. The other more successful result could find us with a companion universe on TV a la Agents of SHIELD. To say the very least, the stakes here are high.
In terms of the timing, it feels right for a second try at a full-on Terminator television series. Never has science fiction been a more lucrative proposition in entertainment, and slowly but surely both movie studios and TV networks are realizing the massive earning potential for the genre. The only question that remains is whether or not Genisys will act as a harbinger of future success for the franchise, or the final nail in the coffin for Terminator.
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