In his review of the upcoming Fox series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (premiering Sunday), Brian Lowry of Variety alludes to a violent shooting scene in the pilot that takes place at the school attended by John Connor (Thomas Dekker). “After toying with excising the scene last summer because of the Virginia Tech shootings, cooler heads prevailed, and it’s back mostly intact,” Lowry says.
While I don’t want to argue that the scene should have been cut, I’ve watched it twice now, months apart, and each time found it shocking and unsettling.
There’s a lot of gunfire. A lot. More than I think I’ve seen on a TV show in some time.
Though it might be unreasonable to expect the pilot storyline of “Terminator” to stop and think about the psychological and emotional consequences of such violence, it felt disturbingly cavalier to me that the show cared so little about it. It was all I could think about during the scene and in its aftermath. I realize that ultimately, the fate of the universe is at stake in the story of Sarah and John Connor, but it was hard to escape the immediate feeling that their lives were a sideshow compared to the bullets whizzing past schoolkids.
Episode two brought less unmitigated violence to the screen, easing my concerns that I would be waging these internal battles each time I watched “Terminator,” which (as much as it has failed to make me feel passionately about the lead characters) has provisionally hooked me as a viewer. Nevertheless, I’m still more uneasy about the treatment of those teenagers than I am about the fate of “Save the Young Leader, Save the World.”
Maybe that says more about me than the show. Even in an escapist fantasy, I’m drawn to the blunt reality. When you see the scene, let me know if you think — no pun intended — that the violence was or wasn’t overkill.
— Jon Weisman