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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Monday, January 14, 2008

Even without Ah-nold, they're back

Skepticism aside - seriously, how can you make a "Terminator" series without Ah-nold in the title role - Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" could be the one non sucky thing to come out of mid-season television.

Last night's premiere (part one of two) was a brilliant example of how the pace of movies can be translated to the small screen format without being lame (anyone remember the TV version of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"? Didn't think so). Taut, action-packed and with an impressive amount of destruction rarely seen on television, "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" plays up the chapter-a-week attraction of shows like "Heroes" and "24."

Quick refresher course on the "Terminator" mythology: The world ends in a nuclear holocaust when an artificially intellegent computer system (Skynet) becomes self-aware and allows the takeover by machines bent on destroying humanity. In the first two movies, cyborg assassins (terminators) are sent back to the past to kill John Connor, who is slated to become the leader of the human resistance against the machines.

Although the series ignores the storyline of 2003's "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines" in which an older John Connor attempts to destroy Skynet with the help of a reprogrammed terminator, it picks up where 1991's "T2: Judgement Day" ended. After destroying the assassin sent to kill her son, Sarah Connor (Lena Headey in Linda Hamilton's role from the films) and her son (Thomas Dekker) live as fugitives, running from town to town until coming to face yet another future assassin. Once they hook up with a guardian-angel cyborg, sent back from the future disguised as a teenage girl, they go on the offensive to destroy Skynet before it can wreck havoc on the world.

A lot has happened since 1984 - when the original "The Terminator" was released - both in the real world and the mythic timeline the movies operated on. What's nice is that "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" revises the world created in the movies without completely rewriting it, even though it's got 24 years on the first movie. It also channels a lot of the goofiness that made the "Terminator" movies standout from the average sci-fi-action flick - even if it is missing the Governator's ridiculous one-liners. Best of all, we're finally getting a closer and more intimate look at the shotgun-wielding single mom whose son is the future leader of mankind. Score one for feminists everywhere.

Part 2 of the premiere for "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" airs tonight on Fox at 8 p.m., which will be its regular time slot. Check out a recap of the first episode at Entertainment Weekly.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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