“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” isn’t the best sci-fi action series ever made. But given today’s Writers Guild strike-mandated slate of reality shows and reruns, it’s enough to rate as a desperately welcome addition to the midseason TV schedule.
The show picks up where the classic Terminator 2: Judgment Day left off, largely (and wisely) ignoring the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Instead of running off to the Mexican desert to train her son John Connor in the ways of warfare like she said she was going to at the end of T2, it seems Sarah (now well-embodied by 300’s Lena Headey) has moved to small-town New Mexico to spend her days praying the Terminators never return to bedevil her family.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, from a plot point of view), those pesky robots from the future do return in yet another attempt to off future resistance leader John Connor (played here by Thomas Dekker, who spent last season hanging out with the super-powered cheerleader on “Heroes”). Seems to me, the Terminators’ time and resources would be better spent, at this point, just fighting John Connor in the future. But no.
As things get started in TV Land, another Terminator has been dispatched to shoot up the real estate around John Connor. Amusingly, this new Terminator first shows up as a substitute teacher in John’s high school homeroom. (So much for a normal childhood.) Lucky for Connor, the hot new girl in school, Cameron (Summer Glau, a sci-fi fave thanks to “Firefly” and “The 4400”), is yet another good Terminator sent to protect John from lead poisoning.
If you get the impression that “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” isn’t particularly innovative, you’re right. It’s basically a less expensive rehash of Terminator 2. (Yup, we’re still running around trying to stop the building of SkyNet.) Aside from the addition of a female Terminator (which we got in T3 anyway), “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” looks like mighty familiar territory. (It should--the pilot was shot in Albuquerque.)
The pilot storyline boils down to one big chase scene, basically, with little in the way of storytelling subtlety. Still, the action is dispensed at a quick clip, and the special effects are better than your average TV series. Fingers crossed the producers are keeping character and plot development in the bag for future episodes.
The cast has got spunk and the setup boasts plenty of possibilities. The dynamic between reluctant hero John and nubile, frequently nude Terminator gal Cameron could be fun. A studly FBI agent/former lover (Richard T. Jones from “Judging Amy”) hot on Sarah’s trail speaks of future sparks as well. Even if this sci-fi actioner turns out to be all flash powder and no substance, it’s already 10 times better than “The Bionic Woman.”