The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I can’t watch a movie or television show without analyzing for story. Occupational hazard. I wonder if dentists find themselves examining teeth when someone smiles at them, or if dermatologists inspect complexions of faces, however innocently, turned toward them. Somehow when your profession becomes deeply grafted into your identity, the profession becomes the lens through which you experience the world, people, events, and relationships. Writers are terminally infected with this. We’re always looking for raw material, for primary life experience, with which to create, and creation is the ultimate imperative.

Years of laboriously re-inventing the wheel have taught me that story reduces to three things:
1. What does your character want?
2. What keeps your character from getting it?
and 3. How does your character solve that problem?
Out of these three questions arise character and plot.
So it was with pleasure that I watched “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” last night. I readily confess to being a long-time “Terminator” fan. The first “Terminator” was a perfect movie that observed all of the unities of time, place, and action, and in which every detail was exquisitely honed to reflect the theme of the evil of machines taking on intelligence. The message of Sarah’s answering machine: “Even machines have feelings….” Well, no, they don’t, that’s why they were out to annihilate the human race. The bar into which a desperate Sarah fled when she thought Kyle Reese was stalking her: “Tech Noir.” It’s a virtuoso performance: the streamlined perfection of detail in this movie.
Television never shows the same level of craftsmanship, but it can entertain with flair and drama, and “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” do that. Sarah’s introductory voiceover was intriguing: “What if the only dream you can share with your child is a nightmare?” Sarah wants to save humanity with an apocalyptic intensity, and the show wastes no time getting into danger, conflict, struggle, issues of trust and fear and hope. Enjoyable, watchable. I hope the show makes it, that it survives all the obstacles new shows face: trigger-happy executives who yank a show before it can build a core audience, finding it’s voice and perfect time spot, and right now, the writer’s strike. I want this show to live.

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