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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series picks up right where the first two Terminator movies left off, centering on the never-ending conflict between Sarah Connor and her son and the indestructible robotic assassins that want to kill them. There's plenty of action, including car chases, explosions, fistfights, and gunfights. But it's not just mindless violence; because the show focuses on Sarah's efforts to protect her son at all costs (so he can grow up to lead the human resistance), it has a strong narrative framework to support all the smash-'em-up scenes. Plus, with her take-no-prisoners attitude, Sarah is one of Hollywood's most interesting female characters; here, she's joined by Cameron, a tough female terminator. By contrast, teenage John is still unformed, and, though earnest, he can also be rash and immature. This series, as the name says, is all about the women.
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What's the story?
TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES picks up the Terminator story a few years after the events of the second movie. In the show, Sarah (Lena Headey) and her now-teenage son John (Thomas Dekker) are on the run from both the authorities -- who think the Connors are responsible for several deaths -- and from the Terminators, which have never stopped hunting them. With the help of Cameron, a Terminator sent back by the future John to protect them, they decide to stop running to prevent the creation of Skynet, which launched the war on mankind in the first place.
Is it any good?
One of the most fascinating mysteries of the Terminator stories has always been how Sarah Connor raised son John, who is destined to lead the human resistance in the future after humanity loses its war with the murderous machines. The show fills in that gap, showing how she taught him the skills necessary to fight back and win against a seemingly unbeatable enemy. This chapter of the Connors' life is much better fodder for a TV series than a simple rehash of the films' standard chase format would have been -- the result is smart, nuanced, and very satisfying.
That said, this is a Terminator show, so there's still plenty of action and excitement. Cameron (yes, her moniker is a shout-out to James Cameron, who created the franchise) regularly ends up duking it out with her robotic counterparts. The interactions between Sarah and Cameron (Firefly's Summer Glau) are especially fun; these two powerful women dominate the show. By contrast, John is young and unformed, and though he's the focus of the storyline, he's the least interesting part of the show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the media's fascination with time travel. What other movies and TV shows can you think of that revolve around time travel? How is this one similar or different? Also, this series takes place after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Why do you think the show's producers have chosen to ignore the events that occurred in the third film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Does it help the series better fit into the overall Terminator storyline?