It’s Probably the Time travel, That Always Screws Things Up

This is indeed a funny cartoon, but if it were me being forced to choose between offing Dollhouse or Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles, there’d be no choice. Terminator would be terminated.

Perhaps someone can explain to me the appeal of the show,* but honestly, I’ve never really understood the draw of Terminator at all. Yeah sure, killer cyborgs have Rule of Cool written all over them, but so what? I need more than just RoC to enjoy a movie or a TV show. There has to be a story there, and no incarnation of terminator has ever had a compelling one, probably because the premise breaks my willing suspension of disbelief. I do not, for one second, believe that a super advanced AI who wants to destroy all humans would decide that the best way to take out the last frayed thread of human resistance is to invent time travel and commit a grandfather paradox. Unless the AI’s creator was Rube Goldberg, that just doesn’t make sense.

An AI would quickly calculate that the machines will win because of superior numbers, so it’s a war of attrition. But we’re to believe that Skynet is simply impatient. Despite having all of eternity, it wants to rid the world of humanity right now, and can’t be bothered to wait it out for even a few decades. So, instead of relocating to the moon and setting off a global nuclear bombardment, or unleashing a super-ebola virus, or a hundred other ways to speed up humanity’s demise, Skynet invents time travel. But instead of sending an army of machines back in time a thousand years and just conquering humanity while they are in the dark ages (or a million years and exterminating a few thousand cave men) Skynet chooses to commit resources to a pinpoint operation with a hundred variables that could go wrong. And whose to say that even if you prevented John Connor from being born, someone else wouldn’t just take his place? What, Skynet is a follower of Carlyle?

And I’ll admit, Dollhouse has some holes, and got off to a shaky start. No argument there. But the ethical and philosophical ideas put into play on Dollhouse are what sci-fi TV shows (and books) are all about. The longer format gives the writers and creators elbow room to discuss what makes us human and show us cool stuff at the same time, or at least over a longer period. Terminator never was about the human condition, it just uses a simulacra of tht trope as a touchstone for cool robots blowing shit up and traveling through time. Which is fine. But save the cool robots and explodey stuff for your popcorn movies, where we don’t really care about plot holes and just want to watch time traveling robots shoot it out with fated heroes of mankind.

* Please tell me it’s not just Summer Glau playing with guns, because that is just sad on so many levels.