will ‘Sarah Connor Chronicles’ rock like we hope?

When last we saw John Connor, savior of humanity, in the totally kick-ass Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, he was an adult, his mother had been dead for years, and he’d just hunkered down for a long war with the machines after Skynet launched all of humanity’s nuclear weapons at, well, humanity itself. Things were looking grim for the lad, not to mention for humanity.

But what’s this? John Connor’s a kid again, Sarah Connor is very much alive, Skynet hasn’t even been activated yet, and all of humanity is still busy maxing out their credit cards and obsessing over Paris Hilton? It seems so, from the pretty darn exciting trailer for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:

The series looks cool, and I can’t wait to see it — I’ve been a fan of the films since forever — but what’s the deal?

Well, a quick look around at the IMDB, Fox’s official site, the fan site Sarah Connor Chronicles, and a couple of early reviews of the pilot clued me in: it’s a reboot. T3 hasn’t happened yet — apparently a lot of fans don’t like that flick, which shocks me — and it’s after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day that this new show starts. In the year 1999, Sarah and John are on the run from everyone, from contemporary law enforcement to robot assassins from the future, and have to learn how Skynet gets started even though T2 was all about stopping Joe Morton from creating it.

“You changed the future,” this new John says in the above-linked trailer. “You just didn’t change it enough.” That’s pretty funny: one of the things I really, really like about T3 is that it’s a riff on the clichés of time travel movies (as well as those of action movies), and Chronicles is from the same guys who made that movie, so I hope they have a little bit of fun with the idea and don’t let themselves take it too seriously.

I’m also hoping that the tough-chick aspect of the show is satisfying. The Bionic Woman turned out to be such a dud this fall that it would be nice if this could make up for it with its double-barreled mondo-estrogen kung-fu. I love the idea of two strong women — the awesome Lena Headley (from 300) as Sarah and the even more awesome Summer Glau (from Firefly) as a protective Terminator — protecting a dude, even if he does look like, in this iteration, a foppish O.C. castoff. (John is played by Thomas Dekker, “Zach” from Heroes? Do you remember a Zach?)

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles debuts Sunday, January 13, at 8pm Eastern, and again on Monday, January 14, at 9pm Eastern. The official site is deliberately mum on whether this means the pilot will air on both nights, or if it’ll be two different episodes. Set your TiVos.

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