The producer talks re-shooting the opening scene for the pilot and the status of T4.
James Middleton, Consulting Producer for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, took the time to answer questions about the new series which airs on FOX. An unprecedented sneak preview of the pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles will air on AFNprime (the American Forces Network) Monday, Jan. 14 (9:00 PM viewer time), within hours after the network premiere Sunday, Jan. 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX so servicemen and women overseas will be able to see this new series.
You changed the shooting scene from the initial pilot. The new pilot that the viewers will see is a bit different.
James Middleton: Yes, we are very sensitive in the show in general to the ramifications of violence, and to this actual event. We did make quite a few edits in the school shooting to cut down the number of shots, and to remove any implication that those students had been shot. We really focused on the chase.
We also changed the location of the gunfight in the opening dream sequence to a public library from a school, so those are the changes we made to the pilot.
Is there a concern of wearing the audience out over time, and do you have to be wary of that.
James Middleton: Well, one of the things we felt we had by doing a television show based on the Terminator franchise, was an opportunity to explore character, to explore Sarah Connor's character, and the problems this mother would encounter raising a 15-year old son, and trying to teach him to be a good man, while being in extreme danger.
That's something we feel we can do better in a television show, than in a two-hour movie. The other thing the show allows us to do is change the narrative dynamic. The movies are a chase dynamic, and in our show, Sarah Connor is on the attack. She is the one that is searching, and trying to root out Skynet, and Skynet being this pernicious evil force from the future. What she finds, is there's a vast conspiracy in L.A., it's not just one terminator, or two, there are many aspects of this technology, and how it's formed, and she has bitten off a little bit more than she can chew. The difference is she is proactive.
What would you say to people who haven't seen The Terminator, to assure them they can get in, and what have they missed?
James Middleton: Well, we go to great lengths to try to help viewers along that have not seen The Terminator films, or don't know specific mythology. I think most people do know about The Terminator lore, if only because of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We do go to great lengths to explain the back-story of our terminator mythology as the series progresses.
What were you concerned about when you thought of translating the show from a movie to a TV series?
James Middleton: Okay, in terms of the first part of your question, I always looked at doing Terminator, the Sarah Connor Chronicles as a great opportunity to bring back a character who I loved in the mythology, Sarah Connor. I felt in the first two movies, she was the heart and soul of those films.
I worked on Terminator 3, and it was a very big financial success, however, I missed Sarah.
At any rate, getting back to the opportunities of the television show, I felt actually that a television show would be a better way to explore this character I loved so much.
Has Arnold Schwarzenegger said anything at all about the show?
James Middleton: No, he hasn't really weighed in to the extent that as governor, he's incredibly occupied. I work with a producer named Andy Vajna, who is very close to Arnold, and they speak frequently about various Terminator projects, but Arnold has really made a turn in his life to politics, and he has not weighed in on the show.
Would you like him to do a cameo or a guest shot?
James Middleton: Yes, of course we would, we would love that. Arnold is an icon of the franchise, and an amazing personality, and sure, we would, but it just has not been feasible.
Is there an overall choice to make this show a little bit more female centered?
James Middleton: Well, yes, absolutely. As I said before, I love, as a fan of The Terminator movies, and as a general sci-fi and action fan, I love Sarah Connor. We had done a movie with Arnold, I had studied all three to work on Terminator 3, and I really felt it was time to explore Sarah.
Sarah was always the emotion, and the depth of those previous movies, and I felt a television show would be the perfect place to really get into what her history is. What were her likes and dislikes? What did she lose by being impacted by this war from the future?
What about the choice to add another female terminator this time? What that a conscious choice or was it something that just kind of came up?
James Middleton: Yes, it was absolutely a conscious choice. It comes from the idea that the terminators, and this is from Jim Cameron's vision of the mythology, that the terminators are actually infiltrators, and if that is the case, then what better infiltrator than a beautiful, petite teenaged girl.
Is it easier to get away with robot violence than human violence? And do you think about that when you create the show?
James Middleton: Well, here's the thing, I think what happens is, in the series, you start to, as a viewer, have an emotional connection to Cameron, and certainly, the characters she interacts with, Sarah Connor, and John Connor, have an emotional connection to her. When she gets into a fight, a terminator fight, or a gunfight, I think we are worried about her in a way that we would not be worried about a robot, so there is an emotional connection.
If you have two terminators fighting, the physics of it are going to be a lot more explosive, so that's the fun part about having those kinds of sequences.
What's the status of T4? Is Christian Bale in the thing, and when do you start shooting?
James Middleton: Christian Bale is in the picture, McG is the director, it will shoot in Budapest, and we hope to be in production on April 21, 2008.
What about the timeline of that film?
James Middleton: It is after Judgment Day, and it shows the formation of the resistance.