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May 18 2009

Letter from Terminator showrunner, Josh Friedman. The man behind Summer Glau as a killer-robot-from-the-future (praise he, by the way) gives his final word on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-05-19 00:08 ]

Aww, that was great. Maybe they can spin off a movie like they did with Serenity....oh wait. damn.
That was a really nice send-off. Also, he has good, diverse taste in television. Missing the shows you've lost but embracing the many examples of quality that're out there is a healthy way to enable yourself to continue enjoying TV (although of his examples, at least The Wire ended where it was supposed to. David Simon was fine with ending at five seasons, wasn't he? HBO stuck by that series like nothing else, despite its low ratings. I really need to blind-buy the Complete set and finally watch it).

Of his examples, I still miss Deadwood too, though as much as I loved Arrested Development, I was kinda happy to see it go out on a major high after 3 seasons (two and a half seasons, more accurately).

The Office is still excellent (benefitting from a surge in creativity and hilarity due to a shake-up late in this fifth season just-concluded) and I really enjoyed the first season of Rescue Me and will get around to it finally when it's all said and done. A lot of folks describe it as the epitome of a "guy's show", some talked about The Shield in the same way, but I know women who've greatly enjoyed both and they're prime examples of the best of their mold (and although gender-biased labelling is easy for a soundbite or describing a show among friends, it's not very helpful. Women can just as easily enjoy Rescue Me as men can enjoy Sex & The City). The Shield is possibly the best cop dramas ever, though it helps that it's not a procedural in the traditional sense and is sort of a mish-mash between heavy arc-ness (continuing across multiple seasons in some storylines' cases) and case-of-the-week-or-two-weeks.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-05-19 00:00 ]
A very dignified response. I'll be really sad to see it go; Lena Headey and Summer were amazing, and it was great to see a show on TV with Summer in a starring role.

It's a shame, but there really is a lot of anger on the Internet at the TSCC cancellation at the moment, with some of it being the "Why'd Dollhouse get renewed and TSCC didn't?" variety (which makes people unfairly bitter towards Dollhouse, in a way). And now, whenever I read criticism of Fox, I want to scream "but they renewed Dollhouse!" from the rooftops. It doesn't forgive their mistakes, but I just can't be angry with them now. In any case, I hope this letter goes a little way towards helping the fans.

[ edited by MattK on 2009-05-19 00:01 ]
I loved the show, but the mid season slump, where Summer was reduced to a couple of lines per episode for four episodes in a row, sealed its fate.

After the first Cameron-Lite episode I thought "Ahah, she must be really central to the next episode and they've had to cut her time in this one to fit her shooting schedule" but then the next episode came along and....

Did she go off to shoot a cameo for Terminator Salvation?
Did she go off to shoot a cameo for Terminator Salvation?

A 4-week long cameo? I imagine we'd have heard about it if that was the case. However, if it did happen, and it ultimately caused TSCC to be cancelled... well, that's a rather unpleasant irony.

I always got the impression that the people behind the movie weren't really into TSCC, in that they were happy to let it do its own thing, but they weren't actively trying to tie it in with the movie in any real way. I'd be happy to be proven wrong about that.

[ edited by MattK on 2009-05-19 00:09 ]
MattK, agreed on the unfortunate anger and fandoms eating eachother.

Keep in mind that when we say stuff like, "forgive their mistakes", they haven't actually made any business mistakes that they would've had the pretend psychic foresight to avoid. And that viewpoint is sorta condescending as well. Maybe Firefly could've grown into something that made them money, maybe it would've done okay on a better night with more promotion and smarter marketing, but the execs in charge at the time gave the show the axe based on the numbers and the info they had at the time. It sucks that television is almost purely business and not a perfect vehicle for artists to show their work, but what can we do ? (aside from encourage more stuff like Dr. Horrible, heh) Whoever was in charge of scheduling definitely shoulders some blame for the out-of-order, no-pilot-airing decisions of Firefly, not to mention letting the show be a victim of pre-emptions for an Adam Sandler movie and baseball during a few weeks in October/November 2002, but...the current folks in charge at Fox are not all the same folks from 2002/2003, they don't deserve the negative sentiment. Even if they did cancel Dollhouse, they'd just be doing their jobs and, in the current economic climate, we could definitely rise above our usual fan hyperbole and nuttyness by making the effort to be understanding about their decisions.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-05-19 00:10 ]
What a great guy. He's a Whedon fan, you know. I'm sad his baby got canceled, but he has the right perspective on it.

Did she go off to shoot a cameo for Terminator Salvation?

I'm hoping/wishing she did or we'll someday see her in a Terminator movie. Seriously. She should star in her own Terminator movie, she's such a star.
Loved the show, but it never found a great way to use its ensemble. Weeks go by without seeing Sarah, and then all of a sudden Cameron disappears. I also enjoyed the almost Whedon-esque deaths.

The Office's fanbase seems to be split at the moment, with it apparently losing touch of its main focus, which is apparently not-developing. Whatever. I'm still enjoying that and I really need to get through The Wire at some point.

Good Read. :P
Kris, I'd agree that the Firefly cancellation made sound business sense considering its ratings and its really high costs, but the mistakes I was referring to were more of the "air it out of order" kind, and the fact that it was poorly marketed. I don't think you need psychic foresight to see that nothing good's going to come of that.

I'm hoping/wishing she did or we'll someday see her in a Terminator movie. Seriously.

Definitely! They could easily do a great spin-off (X-Men Origins has proven that you can spin off a character profitably, at least), and seeing Summer star in a movie would be brilliant.

[ edited by MattK on 2009-05-19 00:14 ]
Summer should star in an Internet movie. I'd watch.

I don't think she's in the Terminator movie. It's screened to people now - if she was in it, word would be out there.
That is a lovely note. I was one of those who fell off the TSCC wagon, and I am sorry I did. But, unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, and TSCC met its fate (as did, incidentally, Heroes.)
Wait. Are you telling me Hereos has been cancelled?
brinderwalt: No, Heroes has not been canceled. You wish!

I didn't saw it, nor liked it, but the man has kind words for his fans.
What a classy guy. I've always wanted to see the show, and now I really, really wanna see it.
brinderwalt: No, Heroes has not been canceled. You wish!

Yeah, you got me all hopeful there for a second (not a very fair mindset to have since I've avoided ever even seeing Heroes, but hey.)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2009-05-19 00:59 ]
I wonder how long it took him to the write that letter - and how many times he had to revise it. It must have been extremely hard for him.

Personally, I liked T:SCC. While it's true I didn't agree with a lot of the decisions Mr. Freedman made, he still created something well worth watching. And God, I will miss seeing Cameron in action!
Sorry, I meant that I stopped watching Heroes at about the same time I gave up on TSCC. Sorry for the confusion!
Thank you, Josh Friedman (why do I feel like I'm misspelling more than once?), for giving Summer Glau the opportunity to be a second icon! I loved more than one episode.
Aw man, that was tough to read. Still can't believe it's over for good. At least we'll have two amazing seasons on DVD.
brinderwalt, then you should see the first season on DVD. It's amazing. The others... not so much.
I'm sorry TSCC got cancelled - I think it had its ups and downs, but I thought overall it was pretty good, had picked up again at about 206 or 207 - and had some interesting writing and ace acting. Plus, who among us did not appreciate getting to see Our Summer as a Terminator? Seriousfully, she was the Best Kickass Ballet Dancing Robot Ever, and I'll miss her in that role.

And Josh Friedman is indeed a class act.

Reading the comments on Josh's post, something occurred to me - something I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't really thought about before... Though attitudes like, "We're gonna fight, fight, fight until our show gets un-cancelled" seem a little misplaced or sad or something - especially in the light of its creator saying definitively that it is over, it's possible that for some of these folks, it's may be one of the first times they've fought in community for something they care about and believe in.

My first reaction was along the lines of, "Um - but it's over, guys. You read the letter, right?" But then I started thinking about that feeling you get when something seems unfair or unappreciated, and then you realize that other people feel the same way, and then you've got a barn, and someone else has some costumes, and why don't we all get together and put on a show and raise money and write letters and do something about it? ; >

I mean - it's a doomed effort, absolutely, and there are other un-doomed efforts that could surely use that energy - but that whole lost cause thing can be so attractive and romantic, and it's always good to realize that something can feel worth caring about enough to fight for... you know?

So while I think it's pointless and doomed and already-over-before-it's-started, and definitely existing in a State of Denial - I no longer want to make fun of it. It's kinda dear.
Very nice letter. Must be a classy guy.
QuoterGal, I know exactly what you mean. I was trying to think of a way of putting that into words, but couldn't come up with a way of explaining it, and then you posted and managed to say it a lot more eloquently than I could.
The open letter was a lovely way to address the fans, not lay blame and move forward with dignity and grace. He is a class act.
Definitely have to agreed with the mob re: Josh Friedman's letter to the fans...the man is a class act and I can only imagine the number of drafts/versions/edits he went through before coming to what got posted on the Fox blog. Truly, it's a sign of grace and maturity in an industry where all kinds of judgment calls get made that Josh was able to be encouraging but firm about how things have come to an end based on a decision by both the distributor and the producing studio.

On the topic of the letter's feedback comments? Well, as BOTH one of those fans who is extremely frustrated with the decision AND a Firefly fan, the emotions being felt right now are understandable and familiar. Though the fact that the show's based off licenced property and FX heavy makes the decision by Warner Bros. Television and Fox a bit more fathomable IMO. A similar decision was made a few years go with the Batman spinoff Birds of Prey that faced the same uphill battle of being an AU of an established film series, and which struggled at times with episode quality and character usage.
Now that Steve DeKnight and Jane Espenson have their own projects, how about adding Josh Friedman to the "Dollhouse" writing staff?
How about adding Summer to the Dollhouse cast?
I second (or third, or tenth) the "He is a class act."
That was really a wonderful way to finish that off, as bummed as he must be, considering how bummed we are.
Is Josh contracted to Fox? I'm looking forward to his next project and hoping it's another series. Between the strike-shortened first season and the doom hovering over the second season, I think he's a learned a lot about both showrunning and network political dealings.
Studios put writers under contract and TSCC wasn't a 20th C Fox show. It was from Warner Brothers.
i think the fact that it was from warner, and not fox was part of the reason why it wasn't renewed.
I didn't see it myself, but apparently there was a video interview with Summer in the subscriber's section of EW around mid-season where she mentioned that she was hardly in season two. I can only imagine she was frustrated. And given how little Lena Headey was given to do, in terms of range, I imagine the cast is relieved the show is gone. If the showrunner could have been advised to use his lead cast's talent sensibly, and to up the pace rather than have the show stall-out so frequently, then I'd have loved a third season. But it sounded like a miserable experience. Now please bring Lena to Dollhouse!
I've been hanging in some forums and chats with hardcore tscc fans, and it's kinda heartbreaking, reminds me of firefly, I really wish they have some sort of closure in the upcoming years, like we had with Serenity :(
I think the show would have done a lot better if it was just called "Terminator".
The title of a show has a massive impact on how the show is pre-judged by potential viewers.
Terminator is the big all action franchise. Bring people in and then surprise them with the relationship development after they're hooked.
Calling it "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" took the focus off the action and made it sound like a soap opera.

Calling it Terminator would also have made it easier to give more focus and screen time to Cameron, who was the most interesting character in the show. We all know what happens to John, it's what happens to Cameron that we want to find out!
Unfortunately, you will notice that if you look at the plots of every Terminator franchise installment to date, they are never actually about the characters who are the most interesting and unique (as exhibited by the fact that they always feature on all the advertising and are even the source of the franchise's name itself) - the terminators. I'm sad to say that it just seems to be a built-in defect of the franchise at large.

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