Terminator 2 — Judgment Day came out in 1991. Now, thirty one years later, we have Peacemaker. One thing they have in common is that they both star Robert Patrick, player of bad guys par excellence.

Another thing they have in common is their use of synthetic characters. But in fascinatingly opposite ways.

In T2 Patrick was a real person playing a synthetic person. For the time, the effects that brought this about were strikingly good. I still get chills when I think back on the scenes where Patrick melted effortlessly into liquid metal.

Peacemaker, on the other hand, has a character that you are supposed to think of as entirely real. I’m speaking of Eagly, the protagonist’s pet bird — played by an entirely synthetic actor.

Eagly is 100% CGI, but you would never know it from watching the show. Unless, that is, you took the time to think about how difficult it would be to get a real eagle to act on command in so many different situations.

So here we have a complete reversal of real and synthetic. Three decades ago you faked a character who is supposed to be synthetic by using a real actor. Nowadays, you fake a character who is supposed to be real by using a synthetic actor.

Times have changed.

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