Wednesday, June 20, 2007

FanBoyWonder’s TV Spotlight: The New ‘Bionic Woman’ On NBC This Fall

FanBoyWonder has been hearing serious buzz and we find ourselves becoming seriously excited about one of the new television offerings for the Fall season on NBC—Bionic Woman.

Here’s the Upshot from NBC: “Struggling as a bartender and surrogate mom to her teen-aged sister Becca (Mae Whitman), Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) didn't think life could get much harder. But when a devastating car accident leaves her at death's door, Jaime's only hope of survival is through a cutting-edge, top-secret technology that comes at a hefty price.

“With a whole new existence and a debt to repay, Jaime must figure out how to use her extraordinary abilities for good, while weighing the personal sacrifices she will have to make. Ultimately, it's Jaime's journey of self-discovery and inner strength that will help her embrace her new life as...
The Bionic Woman.”

Check out preview clips from NBC here

This “re-imagined” Bionic Woman looks to be an amalgam of the Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-off series the original Bionic Woman staring Lee Majors and Lindsey Wagner respectively.

We have fond memories of the Bionic Duo, specifically of Col. Steve Austin (Majors), the Six Million Dollar Man

We were but Brianna The Girl Wonder’s age when the SMDM first aired in the mid ‘70s and we thought that Steve Austin was wicked cool (all the kids in the 1970s said “wicked”).

“Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first Bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster."

In other words…..Steve Austin ….was The Balls (with apologies to Ron Burgundy).

During the mid-1990s, Sci-Fi Channel aired all the Six Million Dollar Man episodes in sequence and it was through grown up eyes that we viewed FanBoyWonder’s very first childhood hero. We really enjoyed the early season episodes as they played it straight and took the premise seriously.

It wasn’t until later seasons during Lee Majors’ leisure suit/cheesy mustache phase where he ran with Bigfoot and married Farah that the show slowly but sadly became a parody of itself.

Unfortunately even the name of the show is hopelessly dated—six million dollars back in the day was quite a princely sum. Today, $6 million would barely cover a government defense contractor’s monthly expense account (and that’s if you exclude client “meetings” at the local gentlemen’s club).

Flash forward three decades to David Eick, co-producer of the current sci-fi classic, the new and improved Battlestar Galactica. Like Galactica, Eick has taken what works from the SMDM and the original Bionic Woman and from that basic foundation, has built something new—and perhaps “better, stronger, faster.”

Eick has the technology to rebuild Bionic Woman as a first-class action show with superb special effects—no super slow-mo “bionic running.” This post-millennial model can run as fast as a speeding car, leap tall buildings, kick arse and take names.

However, given Eick's work on Galactica and what we’ve seen from the previews, Bionic Woman will be a character driven drama punctuated by cyborg-action.

English actress Michelle Ryan has been tapped to play the show’s All-American Girl Jaime Sommers in an inspired bit of casting. Ryan’s brings a girl-next-door quality with an understated but very real toughness to Bionic Woman.

But even tougher is the“first bionic woman” and all around bionic bad girl Sarah Corvus played by Galactica’s Katie Sackhoff in what’s promised to be a recurring role around her time as Starbuck on BSG. From the clips we’ve seen, Sackhoff’s Bionic Woman is one piece of work—think BSG Season 3 Starbuck but meaner and with super-strength.

Two words: "Bionic babe-fight"—There we said it.

The show’s other formidable character is Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer), the apparent head of the top-secret bionics program. From what little we’ve seen, Jonas is no Oscar Goldman (played by the immortal, if leathery, Richard Anderson). Whether he turns out to be a friend or a foe to Jaime, this is one heavy dude.

We are very excited from what we’ve seen so far and while nobody asked us, here are some tips from FanBoyWonder to help make this new Bionic Woman work:

* Remember the SCIENCE in sci-fi. Don’t overdose on the science fiction aspect of bionics but at the same time please keep it plausible, if extremely speculative.

* Minimize the “black helicopters” conspiracy theory elements that inherently come in television with a top-secret project such as this. In the original SMDM and BW, the Bionic Duo worked for a government agency—the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) as secret agents on covert, but legitimate operations.

Sure now it’s fashionable to portray the government as the boogeyman (especially in Hollywood) and often not without good reason but why be like every other show that’s chock-full of rogue government agencies and/or all-powerful secret societies? Screw the “Truth is out there” X-Files hooey—it’s boring and it drives us to distraction.

* Jaime’s kid sister Becca already annoys us but we understand the dramatic need for friction among characters. But what we don’t want is to see are regular installments of “Becca the girl hostage.” This is a card that should be played once, if at all, and then either kill the kid or at least giver her an attitude adjustment but make it good.

All in all, we’re excited about Bionic Woman but it’s an off beat show with a potential for greatness but also a reputation from the original shows to overcome. It’s going to need viewer support from the start in order to survive.

Bionic Woman is scheduled to air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. with a September 26 premier. We’re going to check it out.


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