TV Lookout: highlights (and lowlights) for the week ahead, Jan. 13-19

"We're safe," insists the restless 15-year-old lad.

"Don't you EVER think that, John!" his mother scolds. "No one is ever safe."

A sense of constant foreboding permeates "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." And good reason. Sarah knows the son she is raising will, in adulthood, be a sci-fi messiah, the hope for mankind's survival against a vicious artificial intelligence bent on human extinction.

Based on the "Terminator" films, this new Fox series quickly settles John and Sarah in the present day. Here, they will attempt to stay alive and prepare for the battles to come " while warding off fearsome enemies, including a particularly pesky Terminator cyborg invading from the future.

Adding to their troubles is FBI agent James Ellison, who, for his own reasons, is on Sarah's trail.

Fortunately, help is available in the form of Cameron, a reprogrammed, high-performance Terminator assigned to watch over John. She's also lovely: At first, she poses as a flirtatious fellow student at John's high school.

"Terminator" has an engaging tale to tell, and rich special effects to put it across. You may find the level of violence off-putting (or maybe you won't). But the message resonates: The future is something to dread, if you're not prepared to whip it. You can't help hoping that, when the time comes, John will be.

The series (which stars Thomas Dekker, Lena Headey, Summer Glau and Richard T. Jones) airs 8 p.m. EST Sunday, and 9 p.m. Monday.

Other shows to look out for:

- They're a pair of gritty Texas Rangers, as well as loyal, often bickering comrades. Augustus "Gus" McCrae and Woodrow F. Call, the zesty heroes of Larry McMurtry's award-winning novel and miniseries "Lonesome Dove," are back in action in CBS' new, six-hour saga "Comanche Moon." The prequel to "Lonesome Dove," it finds McCrae and Call in their younger years and in pursuit of three colorful outlaws: Buffalo Hump, Kicking Wolf and Ahumado. McCrae (played by Steve Zahn) and Call (Karl Urban) also must deal with personal matters, such as Gus' sweetheart Clara (Linda Cardellini), and Maggie Tilton (Elizabeth Banks), the young prostitute who loves Call and bears his son. Val Kilmer plays Capt. Inish Scull. Rachel Griffiths plays Inez Scull, his sexy wife. This rollicking adventure airs Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 each night.

- Maybe it won't tell you much you don't already know. But "Oswald's Ghost" is a haunting documentary that not only deconstructs the events surrounding President Kennedy's assassination but also helps explain the spell it has cast on America for four decades and counting. Directed by Oliver Stone ("JFK," "Platoon"), the film includes interviews with author Edward J. Epstein, politician Gary Hart, news anchor Dan Rather, activist Tom Hayden and attorney Mark Lane, among others. Even now, 70 percent of Americans believe that the 46-year-old president's murder was the result of a conspiracy. "How could someone as inconsequential as Lee Harvey Oswald have killed someone as consequential as John F. Kennedy?" asks historian Robert Dallek, framing the unanswerable question that helps account for the public's obsession. "Oswald's Ghost" isn't so much a film about what happened in Dallas in November 1963, as much as what has happened to America since. An "American Experience" production, it airs 9 p.m. Monday on PBS (check local listings).

- DIY Network introduces its "Nailed At Nine" programming block with "Under Construction," a new reality series that explores the world of big-city construction from the perspective of a small construction firm. Featuring Brooklyn native sons John DeSilvia and John Palanca, the series follows their daily dramas at Design Tech as they build, demolish, renovate and refurbish projects all over New York. It premieres with back-to-back episodes Wednesday at 9 and 9:30 p.m.

- Lola Dia is about to hit her 25th birthday and she's got just one day to find a husband " or, according to her late mother's will, she'll lose her share of the family business. So Lola hires Bo, a local workman, to join her in matrimony. The results prove "A Good Man Is Hard to Buy," a romantic comedy starring Nadine Velazquez as the bride-under-pressure and Mark Consuelos as her instant fiance. Assisted by best friend Nina (Tempestt Bledsoe), Lola makes Bo over to fit squarely into the expectations of her demanding, traditional father (Erik Estrada), and gain his requisite approval. But the couple hasn't reached the altar yet, forced to stay one step ahead of Lola's former fiance Marco (Mario Lopez), who is scheming to win Lola back. The film premieres 8 p.m. Saturday on Oxygen.


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