TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
8 p.m. Monday, Fox
8 p.m. Tuesday, Fox
It's been a good couple of years to be a geek. On television, science-fiction plotlines have made a real comeback in recent years, with shows like “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica” changing the way we think about sci-fi on the small screen.
These days, two of my favorites are on Fox: “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Fringe.” Both have been slow to build audience, and Fox is notorious for axing anything that doesn't immediately rocket to the top of the ratings. Given that, it's time for sci-fi fans to kick in and get behind these two smart and interesting shows before they go the way of Napster.
First in my heart is the older of the two, “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (Mondays at 8 p.m.) Set in the years after “T2,” the show features Sarah (Lena Headey) and her son, John (Thomas Dekker), trying to stay one step ahead of cyborgs sent back from the future by the murderous supercomputer Skynet. Though the robots' primary goal is to kill off John Connor, they've also got a number of other interesting missions, including getting their metal paws on the grandfather of Skynet — a garage-built chess-playing computer called The Turk.
Helping John and Sarah stave off that possibility are two protectors: Derek Reese (Brian Austin Greene) a fighter from the future who happens to be John's uncle, and a foxy female Terminator named Cameron (Summer Glau) who has been reprogrammed. It's smart, clever and action packed, especially for a fan of the Terminator series.
The second Fox series I like — but which, I must admit, I'm not sure I'm completely in love with yet — is “Fringe” (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.) from “Lost” creator J.J. Abrams. The underlying plot of the show will seem familiar to any fan of “The X-Files” — FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Australian actress Anna Torv) discovers that strange events happening all over the world are somehow connected to a giant multi-national corporation called Massive Dynamic. With the help of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) — a former mental patient who might be the greatest scientist alive — and his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), Dunham seeks to gather the threads of the conspiracy from a lab at Harvard University. In a nutshell, it's Mulder and Scully without all the aliens and government conspiracy (so far, anyway), with week-to-week episodes dealing with everything from flesh-eating viruses to communication with the dead (scientists have already been griping on-line about the show's shaky grasp on actual science, but that's why they call it science FICTION, right?). Though I love Noble's Dr. Bishop, I'm not quite sold on Agent Dunham yet — especially when it comes to her chemistry with co-star Joshua Jackson. Too, as a former fan of “Lost” who finally just got so damned confused that I quit watching, I hope that Abrams and Co. will remember not to let the show's Evil Incorporated mythology get in the way of the Fun Factor.