Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sarah Connor Chronicles: 1 and 2

Well, I wasn't going to watch and review it. I didn't want to disrupt my recollection and appreciation of Terminator 1 and 2, which I thought were superb, or even Terminator 3, which I also enjoyed. That, and I don't think movies shrink very well to the television screen. For every Stargate and Buffy, in which the television was far better than the movie, you have tens of Alien Nation, Blade, Animal House, Dirty Dancings.

On the other hand, the Terminator stories are about time travel. And that, as readers here know, is a pretty big hand, for me. And I heard some good things about The Chronicles...

So I saw the first two episodes on Fox's On Demand online website last night.

And I thought they were excellent. The pilot, in fact, is one of the best hours of television I've seen in the past few months - meaning, it's right up there with the best of Journeyman and The Wire. And the second episode was powerful and appealing, too.

The story in The Chronicles starts after T2. Sarah, played by Lena Headey (of 300 fame), is living quietly with her fiancé and son John in the midwest. One of the problems with any remake is new acting talent playing a character whose face and mannerisms belong to another. It's still hard to imagine anyone other than Linda Hamilton as Sarah, but Lena Headey's performance is strong and convincing.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles also has lots of nice attention to detail. Sarah's fiancé - Charley Dixon - is played by Dean Winters, who looks a lot like Kyle Reese/Michael Biehn. Makes sense that Sarah would be attracted to the same kind of man.

There are some fine jolts in the plot, which I won't give away in this review, except to say think more Terminator models and, of course, time travel - but done with surprise and panache.

And Lost fans - Penny (Sonya Walger) has a continuing role in the Chronicles! I hope she hasn't given up searching for Desmond, but she's certainly better off without that cold fish she was married to in Tell Me You Love Me.

I'll be watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox, reviewing them right here on Infinite Regress, and after giving you a chance to see the first two episodes (which play nicely on Fox's web site), I'll start discussing significant plot elements with spoilers in the reviews - that will be later tonight, after I see Episode 3 at 9pm.

It's good to have The Terminator story back on the screen. It always had a unique blend of mostly breathtaking action and a sprinkle of winning humor. The Chronicles has that, too.

In one telling scene, a bad Terminator is about to smash into a bank. He notices lots of police, bristling with weapons, out front. His screen quickly sizes them up, and we see a brief advisory - "no threat".

The police are no threat - that's the kind of thing I like to see in a story...

See also The Sarah Connor Chronicles 3 ... 4: A Robot Primer ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... 8-9: Terminate with Puzzles, Surprises, and Soul

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