For the next month and a half starting today, television will be treating science fiction fans fraktastically well on Friday nights. Battlestar Galactica goes into its final run of episodes (only six to go), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles moves to a Friday slot and into the season two back nine, and Joss Whedon‘s Dollhouse finally sees the light of day with the series premiere, “Ghost.”
First up is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox at 8 PM/7 PMc), back from the winter break with some big mysteries left to resolve: what kind of Skynet will project Babylon grow into, what kind of resistance leader John Connor will be if the resistance is sending people back to save him from his friendly robot, is Sarah going crazy or is she on the trail of the very first present-day hunter-killers, and does Skynet have different factions too in the future, to only mention the major ones.
In the first half of the season, the show has done an excellent job playing off of James Cameron‘s films and leaving few stones of the Terminator foundation unturned. A direct offshoot of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Sarah Connor Chronicles is just as interested in tackling the notion of programming in humans (mothers, dehumanized soldiers) as it is in possibilities of authentic experience in machines, which are thankfully emancipated from the old reductive labels rooted in human psychology (computers developing a superiority complex, androids trying to develop emotions, robots trying to become ‘real’) and explored in proper “what if” fashion simply as themselves. At the same time, the show also expands on the religious metaphor from the movies (“Judgment Day”) by throwing the cautionary tale of Babel – an act of creation intended to bring people closer to God – into the mix in a very big way. In more respects than one, season two has gone from being simply a spin-off to being an in-depth analysis of the first two movies, as well as their piece-by-piece translation into a purer form of the science fiction genre.
After a two-month break, The Sarah Connor Chronicles returns with another big T2 reference – Sarah getting some guidance from the image of none other than Kyle Reese – in “The Good Wound,” airing at 8 PM. Here is the teaser:
Next stop, Dollhouse (Fox at 9 PM). Joss Whedon is back on television and this time he is using a pretty controversial premise: characters with no memories and little self-knowledge who are programmed to go on different missions for insanely rich clients, only to get their minds wiped afterwards. If Whedon’s previous work is anything to go by – in particular, the way he wrestled the horror genre away from its traditional anti-feminist streak on Buffy – he will probably do something as sneaky as use the seemingly exploitation premise to repeatedly kick consumerism in the shins (see: Jean Kilbourne) or possibly even promote a healthier female image – right there on national television.
Here is the preview:
Finally, there is Battlestar Galactica (SCI FI Channel at 10 PM). There is little new that needs to be said about the show at this point. Existentialist science fiction drama, amazingly layered characters and storylines, all delivered in an unapologetic present tense. The new episode, “No Exit,” brings major clues to the entire series’ premise (see preview below), so make sure you don’t miss it.