Maybe you're feeling too scarred right now to ever trust a TV series again (understandable). But that's a great pity because there IS a show, doing it all right.
Ten ways in which Sarah Connor Chronicles and Battlestar Galactica are similar
1. The central premise involves an apocalypse in which most of humanity dies. The remainder of humanity struggle to survive and form a resistance against the machines.
2. It has kickass and complex female characters.
3. Both shows have male characters that aren't just a stereotype of alpha masculinity.
4. Hot (killer) robot chicks.
5. Both shows are about trying to break out of a cycle of violence and destruction.
6. In both shows humanity is forced into compromise with machines in order to survive.
7. The degree to which machines can become human is explored on both shows.
8. Family loyalty, the value of human life and the natural nihilism that comes from facing death on a daily basis are at the heart of both shows.
9. Both are action-based, but contain extensive philosophical or political material as well.
10. Both have 'destiny' couples, whose love outlasts/overcomes the tragic world in which they exist.
ETA: They also both have scores by Bear McCreary.
Ten ways in which Sarah Connor Chronicles does it better than Battlestar Galactica
1. The female characters remain central to the narrative, remain complex, are not all killed, raped or reduced to stereotypical gender roles, or given the 'love/a baby fulfils them' plot. Also, they don't just mimic male 'strength'. While Sarah is an action hero in the traditional sense, there is also a well explored theme of the female 'heroic' strengths of self-sacrifice and enduring great physical suffering.
2. Likewise the male characters show a range of behaviours and strengths, including the capacity to express emotion and, indeed, to shoulder the emotional burdens of others (perhaps considered primarily a female strength). The male leader of the resistance is not a cranky bigoted old man, but an emotional teenage boy who is both incredibly strong and incredibly fragile.
3. The compromise with machines is well explored. There are those that think it is the wrong idea and who think that the leadership is blinkered, self-interested and arrogant. The resolution of that plot does not reduce it to 'leadership right, naysayers bad' and it respects the audience's intelligence by showing both sides of the equation fairly. Also the leaders are continually questioning themselves--not just doing so once and then assuming that that theme is done and dusted.
4. The religious elements are handled as a matter of personal belief, though in no way dismissed. Ellison is a believer and his religious struggles form a strong narrative thread. His religion is alive to him, but NOT LITERAL. Sorry: my own prejudices show here, but I do feel that there's a far more subtle exploration of religious issues on Sarah Connor. The fact that one human character continues to believe in God despite the apocalypse is a fascinating aspect of the show and far more interesting to me than 'angels are real!'
5. Cameron is the best exploration I can EVER imagine of a robot that is becoming human. Even more so because the show never definitively shows that she is. The question 'at what point will machines have become us?' is raised but both arguments are explored. Cameron appears to be displaying emotion of a sort at times... but is the appearance of emotion the same as 'real' emotion? Is the mimicry of beauty the same as beauty? She questions her own identity: does that mean she has a 'self'? And that's before we even consider her origins as a 'real' human. It's all so fascinating. Also, she's played by the amazing Summer Glau and is both stunning and sexy and an AWESOME action hero. Really, what more could anyone want? Cameron > all the Cylons on BSG.
6. The action ... well, I do love space battles so this is hard for me, but the action in Sarah Connor is really well done. In fact I'd say it's the best true 'action' series on television. It cops some crit sometimes for not having enough action in some eps--that's because the writers believe you can't just revel in violence, you have to also show the consequences and the complexities that come from human life being destroyed. Does that not sound BRILLIANT?
7. BSG often gets admiration for its nihilism and 'epic tragedy'. Well I think Sarah Connor is the show that does true nihilism and tragedy. BSG's was so often just superficial 'shock value' stuff sugarcoated with some very traditional heroism. In Sarah Connor the characters can never escape from their destinies, even as they fight to change time. It doesn't wallow in this but rather shows the struggle to fight (and hope) in the face of all that. The nihilism is more a cumulative experience for the audience as they think through all the complexities and try to work out for themselves what the 'right' way is... and realise there isn't one.
8. The pigeon metaphor in SCC is much creepier and much more interesting. *snerk* (How much did I wish Cameron would show up and snap that BSG pigeons neck?!)
9. The 'destiny' couples really do have a tragic ending--if you've got a tragedy kink, this will appeal to you--and yet they're also very fulfilling as 'ships'. Kyle and Sarah had only a short time together, but their love imbues the whole show through the writers respect for that original canonical relationship. Cameron and John are the machine/human couple, and even though I don't ship them the tension between them is amazing. And maybe it's just me, but I find in Jesse/Derek many things that I wished Kara/Lee had been but wasn't in the end--essentially they're both soldiers, with different but complementary skillsets, they work together and love each other, they 'have each others' backs'. Yet they are caught up in something so much bigger than themselves and they therefore find themselves on opposing sides of a political debate. Yes, they're a tragic couple but tragic in a meaningful sense, not with stupid alternaships and orchestrated angst.
10. Most of all, SCC is written by people that respect both their audience and the source material. They strive so hard to do justice to the concepts and they never, ever dumb things down for the audience. They often pull out surprising moments (as they did this week) but not in order to shock the audience--rather, they've been plotted in advance and prove to be a satisfying culmination of many threads coming together. The writers clearly have a plan (even when the first season got aborted!) and are steadily working towards it. Some episodes are more interesting than others, but overall the series has got better and better rather than worse and worse. And it remembers its own canon (the Andy Good reference this week was so poignant!) and doesn't just retcon. As a viewer you have the sense that the writers have a clear understanding of where each character is 'at' emotionally--they're not just randomly playing with them like puppets. They respect their characters.
Obviously Terminator's not everyone's taste, I wasn't really sure it was mine to begin with--to be honest I started watching for Cameron to begin with but have grown to love all the characters. I've found the show really rewards rewatching. And I do honestly believe it tells a similar story to BSG's but in a more sophisticated way--its control of its own metaphors, narrative and characters is, I believe, objectively more successful even in its 'unfinished' (and possibly to receive early termination!) state. Do check it out if you think it sounds interesting. :)
ETA ((((((HUGS))))))) to BSG fandom
ETA2 Yes, I am going to review SCC 2.19 (but not the BSG finale because it doesn't deserve thought). I just needed to get this post out of my system first! ;)