"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Pilot

I have to admit; from the beginning it seemed to me that a "Terminator" series was a bad idea. Then I heard the name "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" – and things seemed to be going downhill quickly. Very few times does the word "chronicles" bode well for anyone. After all, what could the show be but one of two things – either a prolonged flight from a single Terminator, or even less interesting – a "Terminator of the week" show where I am treated to pale imitations of all the elements that made the movies so exciting.

The awkwardly named Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles isn't just better than I may have thought, it's damn good. Whether it's the well chosen cast, the deep integration with the mythology of the movies, or the direction – this is a show that deserves my attention.

While the differences aren't monumental, the show's strength is in the details. Lena Heady takes on what seemed the thankless role of replacing Linda Hamilton as iconic Sarah Connor. She's certainly taking a page from Hamilton's work, but Heady (who's a bit softer than the hardcore physique Hamilton displayed) is quickly making the character her own.

The John Connor that Thomas Dekker is playing is on the cusp of becoming a leader – but isn't quite there yet. Dekker (who last played "Zach" on Heroes) fits the mold of the outcast and watching Connor come into his own might be one of the best parts of the series.

The pilot falls a bit short since it doesn't introduce anything I haven't seen before. While there's nothing too original here, it's fun to watch these characters react to something that should no longer exist - and I get a sense of how things work in the reality of the show.

Sarah Connor has plenty of action to satisfy action fans. It can't outdo the spectacle and over the top effects of the movies. Sarah Connor has always been resourceful, and that's the side of the character brought to the foreground in the series. The show never looks cheap (and considering the amount Fox has invested in promoting it, there's plenty of money on screen), but it will have to be consistently inventive to provide the "wow!" factor so closely associated with the films. It's smart, well acted, exciting and some of the best entertainment on the air.

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