I watched Bionicle zombies terrify humans on TV the other day. Hell, the sight shocked me near to death, and I was sitting in the safety of my house in Birmingham, Alabama. Maybe you all knew there were metal skeletors on television, but I didn’t. The TV was off limits for the boys for ages. Now that they can watch Nick, Discovery and the History channel they know plenty about pyramids and smelting, but I haven’t heard anyone mention the other-worldly scenes I witnessed while I was watching an entire show, which is a rarity for me.
Sure, I could have turned off the show, but I wasn’t just channel surfing. I sat down to watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on purpose after I learned that my idol, Shirley Manson, was going to be appearing on the second season of the show.
Because I am both a devoted fan and anal-retentive, I Tivoed the first season so I’d be ready for Shirley’s debut.
Wow. It didn’t take two seconds for me to realize that I’m not Terminator’s target audience. It’s fortunate that I’m not the newspaper’s television critic because I would be at a loss as to how to describe it, except maybe I’d be close if I said it’s a sci-fi action adventure show with a mother-son relationship thrown in. And the main characters have fabulous hair.
This is the son, and his hair looks even better on the show.
Apparently some Bionicle looking machines have been sent from the future to attack Sarah Connor’s son, John, because if he lives he will be the leader of the humans and fight the machines. In the future. So there’s some time travel involved, but it’s not the dainty kind like in The Time Traveler’s Wife where you might pop back in time and nibble on scones and freshly-squeezed orange juice with the child who in twenty years will be your beloved.
Instead this is jarring time-travel, without refreshments. The future has Star Wars type scenery, but updated. Unlike me, the producers have seen a few science fiction films since 1977 and they understand that there are many things scarier than Darth Vader, and they tossed them all into Terminator and I am still having nightmares. The boys will not be watching Terminator.
I must admit that one episode was particularly enthralling, and a bit humorous. A multitude of skeletors had been destroyed by the humans, but a small piece of metal remained. That piece of metal regenerated himself into a whole Bionicle looking figure. Doing so required him to go retrieve his head from some old dude in a shack, but I don’t think that was important to the plot line.
What caught my attention was that Mr. Bionicle had a number of errands to run, and he found a pair of sweat pants, a sweat shirt and a diving mask to wear while he walked around downtown in a midsized city in America, as if a skeletor dressed like the Unabomber wearing a scuba mask was somehow less noticeable than a naked Bionicle hanging out. I guess he just didn’t want people to know he was a pile of metal walking to obscure places without ever asking for directions.
Mr. Bionicle wore his sweats to the hospital where he stole a bunch of blood, and then he went to visit a scientist. He commanded the scientist to mix up a bathtub full of blood and growth hormone and God knows what else, and then he took off his sweats and submerged himself into the liquid. When he came out, he looked like the inside of a jellybean, but pinker, and I gathered that he had successfully gotten some flesh on his bones in a manner that did not involve eating.
Then he put his Unabomber outfit back on, and that was a wise fashion choice. Plain metal can be sleek, but looking like a naked newborn bunny is not so sexy. He walked to a plastic surgeon’s office and demanded that the doctor make him look like a certain human man, and the doctor did so in a five hour operation. The doctor did it late at night without anesthetizing the patient, and without nursing assistance. I feel sure he was acting outside the parameters of his malpractice insurance in performing this particular surgery. It didn’t matter in the long run, as the Bionicle killed him after he was finished.
So now there’s a Bionicle who looks like real man, hanging out in sweats, (unless he buys some new clothes) and I suppose he’ll be coming after the mother and son soon.
Actually, apart from the whole saving the world/monster part of the show, I found myself responding to the mother-son relationship, and so maybe I could be Terminator’s target audience. The son is around 14 or 15, not so much older than Finn, and his mom has to struggle with letting him do what he wants (“Let me drive the armored truck into this concrete wall– I must fulfill my destiny!”) while still protecting him, not only because that’s her job as a mother, but also because if he dies the whole human race will be taken over by Skylab or something. I can relate to the push and pull of allowing your children the freedom to make mistakes, yet wanting to protect them from the real world. Where there are no Bionicles in Unabomber clothes, so help me, God.
Sarah Connor’s job makes my mothering duties look like a cinch. If Finn screws up he’ll get an F, or learn a lesson, but it won’t affect the entire human race. But Sarah – talk about some parenting pressure. I wouldn’t trade places in a second– not even for the fabulous hair.
Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Getting Back Up
(This was the post I wrote after Hurricane Katrina, and ironically, it’s equally timely now)