TerminatorSite: The San Diego Chronicles, Part 1: Josh Friedman Interview

Following the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles panel at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego (where some spoilers were revealed to a packed crowd!), many members of the cast and crew took some time to speak with the press.

We'll be rolling out the interviews within this coming week, but first we'll sit down with executive producer Josh Friedman, who will share with us a little about what to expect from Season Two. Be warned, some spoilers may follow.

Friedman began the junket by discussing a revelation that came out at the convention's panel, which was held preceding the Q&A. "I think one thing that we revealed at the panel that was quite shocking to the panel was that one of the people on the panel was going to die this season, and then since they don't know which one, it was a little unnerving for them, and they seemed distracted for the rest of the day," Friedman teases. He wouldn't reveal who would be on the way out, however. "You could narrow it down a little bit, but why do that? Lena, literally, was like 'I'll show up on time, I promise!'," he laughs.

Although the second season doesn't have the challenge of the writers' strike, other challenges of production are a bit more difficult in Season Two - even though the show will have a higher budget. "Ironically, we were given more money this year than we had last year, so we decided that we needed to make an even bigger show than we made last year. It's quite challenging. We're doing a lot more days on location; bigger stunts, and car chases, stuff like that we did some of last year, but there were certainly episodes that were smaller, and this year, there are episodes that are quite large. It's interesting," he says, also revealing that there will be some really big stunts, including a car flip in the season premiere.

Being on a network like FOX, which has cancelled many genre shows before they really would get a chance, provides no concern for Friedman. "It's a different group," Friedman says. "Kevin Reilly [and crew] were not there when the Firefly thing went down."

Friedman seems happy with the show's placement on the FOX network. "What I like about FOX is that they are a more disruptive network in terms of their taste. They will do things in order to make noise," he says. "A lot of the other networks, they want people to watch their show, but maybe they're a little more polite about it, and I think FOX will embrace the things that we need to have on our show. No one ever says, is that a little too dark, or is that a little violent, or is that too edgy, or whatever. The Terminator franchise needs to live out on that edge, and I think that's FOX's reputation. I think that they're the closest to cable in some ways, in terms of what they're willing to push."

Another concern or question about The Sarah Connor Chronicles is whether or not Season 2 will have self-contained episodes or if it will have an ongoing storyline. "I'm not a big fan of standalone storytelling. I think the best science fiction is inherently serialized and I am a serialized storyteller. It's what I like. I really only want to be doing serialized television," Friedman reveals. "I think that what we found last year is that there were people that were trying to access the show some episodes in, and they were frustrated by that. I felt like I was trying to tell some very complicated stories and do a very seralized version of those complicated stories, and I wasn't allowing for any standalone elements. There were very few access points for people, if they missed a few episodes." However, Friedman would like to make the show accessible for new viewers. "I would love for somebody to be able to jump in on episode 2 or 3 and at least have an experience where they understood 70 percent of it. It's never going to be CSI or Law & Order; it's always going to be seralized. It's a saga, and it'll never not be serialized. It will never be 'Terminator of the Week'," he says.

However, a story device in Season 2 will help stories along. "There is something that happens in the first couple of episodes, where they discover something that allows them to have a particular engine to go on missions, so that there are missions, but they're also sort of tied in to the larger mythology. There is a little teaser in the [season 2 preview] clip that if you saw something and froze it, that perhaps it would indicate how they might go on missions and have standalone episodes, but it's going to go. I get bored."

Changes are in store for John Connor as the show approaches its second season. "He's got a tougher haircut, for example. I hated Thomas's hair last year. He used to come to me on the set, and I'd be looking at him and all I'd be doing is looking up at his hair, and he was like 'You hate my hair?' And I go, 'Yeah I do! Let's shave it off!' We couldn't, because we were shooting a lot of episodes out of order, so we were stuck in this weird continuity loop, so I couldn't change his look, because we were shooting Episode 4, but it was airing episode 8, or whatever. It was a mess. But we always talked about it. And then this year, I had an idea for the first episode that involved some significant changes between John and Sarah, and that sort of propelled them forward, and then as it happened, he did a movie within the break where he had to shave his head," Friedman reveals. He has nothing but good things to say about Thomas Dekker, the young actor who plays John. "Thomas is one of the smartest actors I know, and he's very, very brave, and he's very aware of the franchise," he says.

As far as John's interaction with Derek Reese, played by new series regular Brian Austin Green, Friedman reveals that Derek and John don't always have the same agenda. "Part of what Thomas and I have talked about is [that] John is getting kind of tougher and he's coming into his own, [but] it doesn't necessarily mean he's becoming more mature all the time. He can make a lot of poor choices, and I think that he's still a kid." Fans looking for interaction between Derek and John shouldn't have to wait for very long. "There's one episode we've already shot that's entirely a Derek and John episode, in terms of the big story, and you get to see a lot of the contrasts in terms of how they approach things. He's not where he needs to be yet, and he hasn't seen what Derek has seen, so I think that there's still a lot of interplay that still needs to take place."

Season Two will also bring a love interest for John, played by Leven Rambin of All My Children fame. The introduction of the character, Riley, will bring forth some conflict between John and Sarah. "In a mother-son relationship, there's always another woman involved," Friedman says. "Last year, that other woman was Cameron; this character Riley serves that purpose. I also think that she'll serve the purpose in challenging the bonds that are between John and Cameron."

When asked if Cameron would possibly be jealous of the John and Riley relationship, Friedman reveals that it is in her program to at least be affected by it strategically. "In the way that she thinks it's not in the best interest of the future, that John be away from her, then yeah. Absolutely," he says.

Expect more conflict between John and Sarah as the second season continues, as well. "One of the big things I've done with Sarah is take John away from her, sort of, as a dependable son. I think that last year, that character could really take for granted his love and his approval, and I think one of the things when you're writing these things, is that you want to try to find challenges for the character. What is the most valuable thing to her? Well, John Connor is the most valuable thing to her. He's not going to die, but that doesn't mean their relationship can't die. No one has ever said in the franchise that at the end of the day they didn't go separate ways strategically. You have to examine it and you have to try to find things to do with [the relationship], because that's the stuff that I'm interested in, so you have to challenge it. Lena, as an actress, loves to run around and kick ass. Put a gun in her hands and let her get punched or punch somebody, and she's the happiest girl around, but she also really loves the real nitty-gritty emotional stuff. She really loves digging into that kind of stuff, and I think she's so good at it, and she's so intense," Friedman says.

Season Two of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles comes at a time when a new Terminator film, Terminator: Salvation, is on the way. Friedman says that this does not add pressure to his work. "I don't feel the pressure because I'm ignorant, I guess," Friedman says. McG and I have talked a few times, but I've never read the script for it; James Middleton who is one of our other EP's is one of the people who developed the script, but I've never asked him what happens in it, and I don't really wnat to know. McG and I have just sort of decided that it was best if I did my thing and he did his thing. But, you know, it's a 200 million dollar movie. Their trailers cost as much as our shows do. But, I mean, we've done a lot of hours now on the show, and I feel like what TV does bet is character. At the end of the day, that's what we do best." However, Friedman does seem optimistic that both projects can co-exist. "I hope that the two of them actually help each other. There's no problem," he says.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles returns in September on FOX!

Read more coverage from Comic Con '08: Thomas Dekker & Summer Glau

Season 2 Image Gallery - Spoilers

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