Friday, October 19, 2007

Bionic Woman—Face Off

Greetings from Mom and Dad FanBoyWonder’s house in the lovely Nutmeg State of Connecticut. On our way back from our Boston business trip, we’re spending a couple days with the folks to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary as well as to celebrate the birthday of FanBoyWonder’s baby brother Joe.

It’s been strange to be back in the hometown. Although we’ve visited many times since we left, we’ve been managing a visit about ever two years or so and the last few times; they’ve been hit and run visits.

Unfortunately, Mrs. FanBoyWonder couldn’t come with us. By the time we fly back on Sunday we’ll have been gone eight long days and we already miss her too much.

Anyway, FBW got home on Wednesday night in time to watch Bionic Woman. We made ourselves stay up following a weekend averaging 4 hours of sleep and non-stop business meetings.

Like it or not, here’s our take on this week’s episode of Bionic Woman.

The Upshot from NBC: While on a mission to rescue an American doctor working in Paraguay, Jaime (Michelle Ryan) discovers the truth about her bionic lifespan.

We want to like this show and we think there is a lot of potential (so far unrealized) for Bionic Woman but so far there just ain’t a lot of there there.

Bionic Woman can’t really decide what it wants to be—espionage thriller, action show, sci-fi spectacle but one thing it has utterly failed to be thus far is a character story. We’ve heard that this is part due to a revolving door of show-runners and other high-level creative types on the show.

Yet Executive Producer David Eick—half of the team with Ronald D. Moore who so successfully re-imagined Battlestar Galactica—whose street cred no doubt helped him get the green light to “re-imagine” Bionic Woman, has really failed to blow us away this time around.

What’s missing is the dead-bang scripting and the focus on character, character, character. What little character development we’ve seen so far has been negligible—just enough to drive the plot of the particular episode.

Yet we’re four episodes in and the viewer really hasn’t gotten that much more about Jaime Sommers or about the other supporting characters than we did at the time of the pilot. And it’s hard to character about a character if we don’t know them.

The only thing that’s remained consistent is that Jaime continues to be led around by the nose—we can understand being ignorant about the ways to the spy game but she just hasn’t seemed too bright and that inner-iron that we saw her display in the pilot episode really hasn’t resurfaced so much.

Jaime as the surrogate mom to her sister Becca (Lucy Hale) just isn’t working for us either. While Becca the character is annoying, there’s nothing wrong with Lucy Hale’s performance but she’s been given little to do except to be a potential hostage (again) and to guilt Jaime for leading a secret life of bionic espionage.

Meanwhile, Sarah Corvus (Katee Sackhoff) has allowed herself to be captured by the Berkut Group as spymaster Jonas (Miguel Ferrer) tries to flip her against bionics creator Dr. Anthony Anthros (Mark Sheppard) with the (empty) promise of finding a cure for Sarah’s malfunctioning bionics.

Sarah escapes in short order but unlike last episode, even Katee Sackhoff can’t carry the episode this time around—even if she’s the only character (so far) that’s really fully formed and the only character who is totally compelling—and she’s the guest-star.

Jaime is sent down to South America with Antonio Pope (Isaiah Washington) to “rescue” a kidnapped doctor who turns out has a flashdrive with secret of bionics on it. The doctor has seen the information so Isaiah Washington’s character decides he must die, yet he seems surprised when our girl Jaime objects and turns on him.

One lackluster action scene later, Jaime gets shot, the doctor pulls out the bullet before it totally frags her bionics while cluing Jaime in that her bionics only have a five-year lifespan. So suddenly she and Sarah Corvus have a lot more in common.

Yet this revelation felt flat as did Jaime’s reaction to it as did Jonas’ explanation for it. Hopefully this is a calculated effort by the writers to present a complex and chameleon-like spymaster but we may be giving them too much credit.

Even if this series continues to well in the ratings, really has a long way to go to prove that it’s a hit.


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