You have to love the stripped-down dialogue of the Fox action-adventure series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
"If you die, they win," Sarah (Lena Headey) screams at her 16-year-old son, John (Thomas Dekker), at the start of tonight's Season 2 premiere. That is just in case - with the writers' strike interrupting last year - anyone forgot the premise of a 16-year-old kid as the savior of the human race against an army of cyborgs.
I liked the series last year primarily because of the frenetic pace and the muscular energy of Headey as heroine. But watching tonight's episode I actually smacked myself in the forehead when I understood for the first time the real appeal of this series: It's about single moms and their sons. Sarah is the single mom on steroids, and it really is her and the kid against the world without a shred of help. Very smart stuff at this level. And I welcome its return. (8 p.m., Fox) ***
NOT SO WELCOME Prison Break returned last week, and maybe it's the strike again, but, boy, it seemed confusing - and so far removed from the original premise and energy. (9 p.m., Fox) * 1/2
MORE WELCOME THAN WORDS CAN SAY Z on TV launches as a blog today. For TV news, commentary, analysis and full-length previews, go to weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/
LATE-NIGHT GUESTS The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: Michael Phelps. Late Show With David Letterman: actress Keira Knightley.