Friday, September 28, 2007

FanBoyWonder TV: Bionic Woman Needs More Tuning While Viewers Should Do Life

The Upshot from NBC: When a devastating car accident leaves Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) at death's door, her only hope of survival is a cutting-edge, top-secret technology performed by her boyfriend, Dr. Will Anthros (Chris Bowers), and with her new bionics come a covert life that she is not sure she is ready to lead. Meanwhile, the first bionic woman Sarah Corvus (Katee Sackhoff), has her own agenda as she tracks Jaime and Will down - which leads to a showdown between the two bionic women. Also, Will's father, Dr. Anthony Anthros (Mark Sheppard) escapes from a maximum security prison.

After months of waiting and seeing bits and clips of the show here and there, it was nice to finally see the finished product. Yet we felt like we were watching those two-minute replays that NBC offers viewers who missed an episode rather than the full hour-long drama.

The Bionic Woman premiere should have been a two-part/two-hour episode as the storytellers were in such a hurry to establish the status quo of the show’s premise that they gave us only the most fleeting introduction to the characters.

British actress Michelle Ryan plays our All-American Girl Jaime Summers, which she pulls off with a flawless American accent. Not so flawless is the show’s attempt to fool viewers into thinking they’re in San Francisco instead of Vancouver—but we digress.

Ryan brings a girl next-door quality with an understated but real passive toughness to her character—yet given the choppiness of the episode the viewer sees her all over the emotional map during a very short hour episode.

Jaime’s surgeon/professor boyfriend Will (Chris Bowers), while pivotal to the plot, doesn’t impress us so much from what we’ve seen so far.

Since the car “accident” was a hit attempt on Will and Jaime was wrong place/wrong time, it’s nice that he used his position at the top secret technology lab to save her life and rebuild Jaime—otherwise there would be no show.

Yet it really bothered us when we realized that not only was Will a professor, he was Jaime’s professor.

This is the show’s idea of female empowerment in the new millennium—to have our heroine with implied father issues (and a bratty younger sister to care for) to hook up with a pupil pursuing perv??

Yeah, yeah consenting adults and all that but if Brianna The Girl Wonder gets to college and find herself the object of her educator’s affections—he’ll (or she’ll to be fair) will need some bionic replacements of their own.

Suffice to say, there’s some room for improvement with Dr. Will’s character, but not so much as with the aforementioned bratty kid sister Becca Sommers (Lucy Hale).
Now in what looks like a classic case of it wasn’t broke but some Hollywood suit had to “fix” it, the role of Becca had been recast over the summer from when we first saw the preview footage of Bionic Woman.

The “original” Becca, played by Mae Whitman, we admit seemed annoying but that’s what the part called for. Annoying but with serious dramatic friction. Originally Becca was deaf with a huge chip on her shoulder toward her older sister and surrogate mother Jaime.

Amazingly, Mae Whitman is NOT hearing-impaired but played such a character flawlessly from what we saw. But she wasn’t super-cute—especially with the nose ring and punker look.

So out with Mae and in with Lucy who’s Becca has full command of her hearing and is a convicted computer hacker. Lucy’s Becca annoys us on sight—so much so that we regret ever saying anything bad about Mae.

Given this recasting and a few other reported defections, departures and general reshuffles among the top ranks of the show, this is NOT a good sign.

Fortunately, for annoying characters such as Dr. Will and Becca the mood killer, Bionic Woman has Jonas Bledsoe (played by the always brilliant Miguel Ferrer). Jonas is no Oscar Goldman but as the head of the top-secret bionics program, he’s a heavy dude yet we sense more no-nonsense than malevolence.

Also, the antagonist of the show is Sarah Corvus “The first Bionic Woman” played by BSG’s Katee Sackhoff. This is a bad girl and a dangerous woman yet she somehow evokes pity as the viewer can see she’s not wrapped too tight yet at the same time fully in control.

Sackhoff is so good in what she brings to her character that she threatens to overshadow Ryan unless our “good” Bionic Woman elevates her performance and shows us more.

Since Bionic Woman executive producer David Eick made his bones as a pivotal part of the new Battlestar Galactica—a serious character driven drama—and thus justified this “re-imagining” of the 1970s show of the same name on the strength of his success in remaking BSG, it behooves the Bionic storytellers to drill deeper into the character development forthwith.

That said, there is plenty of promise with this show and we have high hopes (as well as high expectations) for Bionic Woman.

That’s Life

While we’re here—a quick word about Life, the cop-drama that follows Bionic Woman on Wednesday at 10 p.m.

Here’s the Upshot from NBC: Life is a new drama about a detective who is given a second chance. Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers) stars as complex, offbeat Detective Charlie Crews, who returns to the force after 12 years in prison, thanks to close friend and attorney Constance Griffiths (Brooke Langton), after serving time in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The cast also includes Sarah Shahi as Charlie's skeptical, demanding partner, Robin Weigart (HBO's Deadwood) as their hard-hitting lieutenant, and Adam Arkin (Chicago Hope) as former cellmate Ted Early.

While the pilot episode was not without its flaws, we liked it and it left us wanting more. We think this show has promise.

We did find the many quirks of Charlie Crews to be annoying –hopefully he’ll find the one or two that work best and stick with those. But it was during the couple moments that he let his mask slip—most notably confronting the guards during a return visit to prison while working a case—that we saw the makings of a great character.

We’ve been a fan of British actor Damian Lewis since his pivotal role as Major Richard Winters in HBO’s Band of Brothers in 2001. Lewis’ flawless portrayal of the noble, stoic yet enigmatic Winters carried the Emmy® winning mini-series.

We have always thought it was a shame that he did not receive wider recognition and a career bounce from what should have been his big break but we hope he, like his character, can get a second chance in Life.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities