Imagine a lounge, an old lounge, classy, with dancers and that big band playing like no tomorrow. It is nineteen twenty something. The lights dim. A new band has taken the stage. The spotlight centers on the striking woman in front of the microphone; she is revealed as the curtains pull away.
The music begins to thrum and our singer opens up with a sultry voice. “If I had my way,” she sings, trailing the last syllable like smoke from a cigarette. A man in a white tuxedo (an impossibly large man with a flower in his lapel that glows red like his eyes) enters the lounge scans the room and settles on a woman sitting alone at a table. “I’d burn this whole building down.” The tuxedoes in the band vanish in a flash and the sultry voice sings like a feral chainsaw. The man in the white tuxedo stops at the table, and violently pulls her to her feet. He dances ferociously with the woman that has more hardware than Home Depot (only in bullet form) strapped to her. They dance as if the fate of the world would be decided at the end of the song. Maybe it does.
This is the beginning song of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles soundtrack Sampson and Delilah. Arranged and written by the leading sci-fi composer Bear Mcreary, the soundtrack covers a whopping sixty three minutes of music (almost as long as the whole of Season One thanks to the writer strike).
In listening to the soundtrack I am relieved to hear the music follow form with the movie franchise. Fresh, original, inventive, and merciful. Why merciful? Merciful because the Sarah Connor Chronicles makes no bones about writing its own storyline in a valiant effort to avoid what T-3 did with its catastrophic storyline and woeful ending. Under the watchful and visionary hands of Bear Mcreary, Sarah Connor galvanizes the jarring thunder from the original soundtrack written by Brad Fiedel from the first two movies and presents a fresh course for the television series to follow.
Mcreary, no stranger to sci-fi having written and arranged the scores for Battlestar Galactica , Eureka, and Caprica, offers more talent than should be allowed in a young body. Mcreary clearly understands the need for a strong musical score and showcases this admirably by developing intelligent theme songs for each major character. Mcreary is cautious not to stray too far from the series, though, yet somehow strikes the balance between bold originality and thoughtful acknowledgment of the series origins. This is not instinctive rather due to a long partnership with Elmer Bernstein, the masterful conductor of films such as the Magnificent Seven and the Ten Commandments.
Listening to the soundtrack I am relieved not to hear a copy of Bernstein. Bernstein was an amazing composer, the music for the Magnificent Seven standing out as one of the most iconic themes to grace a western. In the Sarah Connor Chronicles Mcreary not only offers his talent he delivers. Masterful, intelligent, calculating. Listening to the soundtrack one feels the weight Connor feels trying to protect her son. One feels the mystery that is the terminator Cameron. What is her agenda? Why is she here. One feels the almost feral snarl that is Derek Reese as he offers the Resistance’s version of change the future.
In the end, after sixty three long minutes I can say this: it is sixty three minutes well spent. The music is raw and incredible, almost iconic. The spirit of the show is captured in each and every song, a rarity in today’s mundane recycled world.
The music has died down and our sultry singer draws on her cigarette voice. With a movement that defies explanation the whole building burns down. The last twinkle we see is the red that shines from behind our singer’s eye.