I watched the show again not too long ago... in the back of my mind I was trying to figure out why the show didn't catch on.
Unfortunately, I think I know an
answer (don't know if it's the
answer or not). The writing and plot structure of the show was, to sum it up, inconsistent
It was a little shaky in Season 1, but then it really started to fall apart in Season 2. It was if the show never really knew what it was supposed to be about, what its central A-Story "core" was and because of it the characters were wasted, and sometimes were standing around with little to do or no motivation for being there in the story. And the "three dots" as a plot line to drive Season 2 with? Gimme a break!
Another few problems that would bug the crap out of those ardent fans who watched the two classic James Cameron films (the "official" stories) were the total disregard and abuse of the use of time travel and the rules set up by Cameron in those films, the fact that in 1997 John Connor would have been 12 years old
(not 15), they gave Sarah cancer again (like in the much loathed T3) and that they couldn't even put Sarah's shoulder wound from the T-1000 on the correct shoulder (it was the right, not the left). They could have easily fixed these problems.
For one, set it in 2007 at the outset and make him the correct 22 years old and just finishing community college or something like that under an assumed ID (he's a computer wiz, it wouldn't be that difficult to do). He wouldn't have to be still living with Sarah, just in the same vicinity to keep tabs on each other. Cameron could have been posing as another college student he bumps into.
That would have dropped the stupid reasoning for jumping from 1997 to 2007 for no apparent reason except, apparently, to have a time travel sequence to set up Sarah and the cancer plot. It would have eliminated Chromartie's metal head traveling through the vortex, which it shouldn't have been able to do. (Besides, how did no one from the bank demolition crew not have spotted an intact endoskeleton in the rubble??) They could have just given him the slip for a little while.
The tension would have been with John having to get back in close quarters with his less than perfect mother who thought of his upbringing more as a duty or task to perform than just a normal son to raise, and having his future plans and aspirations for a normal life cut short yet again because Skynet and JD were still in the picture. They'd have had plenty of opportunities for sexual tension between Cameron and John without adding the creepy Freudian element of her posing as his sister and getting between him and his "mommy." And yes, they did add to the Freud and Oedipal stuff in Season 2 (it was really not needed or wanted IMHO).
And they could have just dropped the cancer issue as it wasn't even handled very well (again, inconsistent) or with tact, delicacy, and compassion for such a heavy and personal subject. Similar to the writers' poor handling of the serious and real issues of teen suicide and underage sex with an adult in a position of trust, early in Season 1. It could have been used to raise awareness of the subject and as a "teaching moment" for Cameron, of all people, and to show she was taking some surprising yet tentative baby steps towards feelings of compassion for someone in pain and in need and helped
the situation come to a better conclusion (in a very awkward Cameron-like way, of course). That would have been a very un-Terminator thing of her to do. After all, Cameron did say she was "different." And you could then begin to see why John could fall for a Terminator even if she did look like Summer Glau.
The other issues had to do with the over all character chemistry. It was getting good towards the end of Season 1 and then they went and shattered it with Season 2. By that time it was "game over, man, game over" for the show IMHO.
Cameron, the fan favorite, was not developed well at all (nor she and John's blooming feelings for each other... in an insane world, she
was the sanest choice for John). She could have been an iconic character in the Terminator-verse, but half the time they didn't seem to know what to do with her. When she seemed to be growing and evolving and learning the art of being a decent enough "human-like" being (like "Uncle Bob" in T2 finding his heart, his curiosity, and his compassion for humans under John's prodding and guidance... not to mention John switching his chip to "learn" mode... James Cameron said it was like an act of love in setting the T-800's mind free), they'd pull the rug out from under her and make her a stone cold psycho killer. Like she was more of a pretty prop rather than a 3 dimensional character. She only got two
decent episodes to shine in (which Summer seemed to voice in public in her very sweet and gentile sort of way).
Anyway, the show really frustrated me. It was very good in some parts, the actors were good, but then at other times it was all over the map.
In other words... inconsistent.