The series based on the hit action films picks where T2 left off. It's actually August 1999, two years after the time-altering events of T2: Judgment Day. Sarah Connor and her teenage son John are hiding out under aliases in Nevada.
To refresh your movie memories, the premise is this: advanced cyborgs, robots in human skin, wage war against all humans in the future, triggering a nuclear explosion, which wipes out most of the Earth's population. The survivors form a rebellion that actually manages to defeat the robots. The leader of that rebellion is John Connor, but the robots don't give up.
The cyborgs use a time machine to go back to before John was born and kill his mother Sarah, which they believe will quell the rebellion permanently. The rebellion catches wind of this and also uses the time machine to send back a protector, to keep John alive. In the original 1984 film, bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger played the murderous cyborg and Linda Hamilton played Sarah Connor. The plot of the 1991 sequel was selfsame as was the plot of the 2003 sequel.
However, T2 boasted Schwarzenegger in the protector role and had some amazing special effects, which still fascinate me to this day, but what's being ignored is that Terminator 3 explains and in some ways solidifies the fate of John Connor, and from the looks of the first episode of this new TV series, it seems as if there's not much they can do to make this story new and fresh. It seems as if it's going to be a repeat of the movies, but just crammed with commercials, which might not necessarily be a bad thing.
The only problem is that the makers of the series have yet to up the ante. In the first movie, we saw an advanced cyborg. In the second, we saw a more advanced cyborg with better technology and powers, one that could shape shift. In the third, we saw the most advanced cyborg that could shape shift and even form complex weapons. Sadly, in this TV series, we're treated to the older model robots from the first film, deadly but ones you know can be defeated. It's only the first episode, but still I'm a little disappointed.
Thankfully, the ending of this episode offers a twist that might prove to change the game and possibly up the ante, so that it's not just a replay of the Schwarzenegger films week after week. The ending of this first episode does throw a curveball, which is genuinely a curiosity maker, enticing viewers to tune in for the next installment.
Until those installments, the only basis of comparison is to the feature films, and quite frankly the TV show doesn't measure up. Like I said, so far the producers of this show have yet to up the ante. Lena Hedley who plays Sarah Connor isn't as physically tough and hardened as Linda Hamilton in T2. Hedley's character here is as highly paranoid as Hamilton's was but in the show even after an intense battle and car chase, resulting in Sarah getting shot, Hedley's hair is still perfectly coiffed. Her beauty and sex appeal is played up too much.
Meanwhile, Thomas Dekker plays John Connor who seems way wimpier and certainly whinier than Edward Furlong's John Connor in T2. A kid having experienced what's already been established, you'd think he wouldn't act as much as a brat as he does. His need for normalcy does play off Sarah's paranoia, but at moments it's almost too much. Hopefully, it will be better handled in future episodes.
Writer Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds) and director David Nutter (The X-Files) both do provide an amazing and exciting start for the most part. A genuine mystery is proposed. The gunfights are just as blatant and as violent as the movies, which might be appealing to fans, and might prove a good escapism even with its themes of gung ho subversives trying to stop a war and the heartless automatons who want to destroy our way of life. Just substitute cyborgs for terrorists and you could have yourself a fairly decent allegory!
Four Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14 for violence.
Mondays on FOX at 9 p.m.
Replays on FOX.com.