PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

January 13, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

If it wasn’t for the lead time involved in these things, and the fact that they were announced (at least the first two) quite a while ago, you could blame the writers’ strike, but a couple of the tv shows that premiered this past week are trying to prove the old adage that there are no new ideas in Hollywood any more.

The first, which debuted last Sunday on NBC before settling into its regular Monday night slot, is American Gladiators. A revival of the late 80’s late night classic, Gladiators pits athletic challengers against a cadre of overly pneumatic, musclebound Gladiators with names like Stealth, Fury, and Hellga (and those are just the women). They compete in faux sporting events such as the Gauntlet (in which a challenger tries to get past three Gladiators in what amounts to a narrow half-pipe, or the Joust, in which a challenger and a Gladiator use giant padded toothpicks to knock one another off a platform. There’s something oddly fascinating about the whole thing, though it didn’t feel right watching it in prime time rather than after Saturday Night Live. It’s closer to Daisy Duke than Daisy Miller, but there’s a place for that in today’s tv landscape.

Debuting tonight and continuing tomorrow, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles bridges the span between the movies Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, telling the story of John Connor’s teenage years. It stars Lena Headey (300‘s Queen Gorgo) as the title character, Thomas Dekker (cheerleader Claire’s season-one boyfriend on Heroes) as savior-to-be John Connor, and Summer Glau (Firefly) as an android sent back in time to aid them.

The first episode, which I have literally just finished watching, promises “one hell of a dogfight”, and it certainly delivers. Pilot episodes of action shows are often not good examples of what a series will be like, so it’s wise to reserve final judgment for an episode or two further down the line, since the larger budget for the pilot usually allows bigger and better effects and action sequences, but Sarah Connor sets up a number of conflicts and dilemmas in the premiere that will not necessary require lots of explosions. But it’s a good guess that there will be plenty of those, at least by television standards.

On the human (or humanoid) level, Headey is not as ripped as Linda Hamilton was in the second movie, but she’s no slouch, radiating the strength and determination of a mother lion. Dekker hasn’t shown a lot quite yet, but Glau is every bit as adorably intense as she was as killing machine River Tam in Firefly and Serenity. Here she’s even allowed to talk a bit. It will take a few more episodes to be sure, but Sarah Connor is worth looking for.

And they had some really great posters.

The 300 Project: 10/10

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