Friday, October 26, 2007

Bionic Woman—The Education of Jaime Sommers

As we write this, FanBoyWonder and Mrs. LoveyWonder have been anxious since hearing the news of a serious health concern to a close, newborn family member. We don’t wish to jinx things by saying anything more right now but hopefully we’ll have some good news to report in the very near future.

However, if you have any good thoughts, prayers or other healthy vibes to spare, we could use it right now. But the show must go on as we hurry up and wait. So here’s our review of this week’s Bionic Woman.

The Upshot from NBC: Jaime (Michelle Ryan) finally gets to experience college when she goes undercover as a British transfer student to investigate a professor who is possibly selling neural implants to terrorists. However, her assignment becomes complicated when she unexpectedly falls for Tom, the teacher's assistant (guest star Jordan Bridges), who has been flagged as a suspect.

Ok we’re now a few weeks in and Bionic Woman is starting to lose that fresh from the showroom floor newness. This is also the first episode without even a cameo appearance by Sarah Corvus (Katee Sackhoff), the first—and so far infinitely more interesting—bionic woman.

Michelle Ryan, the alleged start of the show, is called upon to carry her show all by herself this week. While she doesn’t exactly distinguish herself, Ryan does indeed manage to carry the episode, aided not at all by a poorly written story.

We know from the show’s description that Jaime was sent undercover to college to find who is trying to steal or sell an experimental bio-chip or something but half-way through the episode we realized we hadn’t the foggiest idea just what the heck she was looking for or why.

Okay so Jaime was undercover as an exchange student from Oxford, studying bio-tech to get close to the professor and developer of the technology. Yet Jaime is an Irish-lit major and can barely spell bio-tech, yet she is expected to hold her cover when she nearly chokes answering her first question in class.

Even more silly, spymaster Jonas (Miguel Ferrer) blithely asks Jaime how’s her British accent. We don’t recall cultural camouflage being part of Jaime’s bionic programming—it’s obvious the writers wanted to allow British actress Ryan a chance to speak in her native tongue but it’s implausible in the extreme.

That’s been the problem consistently with this series since the start. It reminds us very much like Highlander the Series. Bionic Woman, like Highlander, has a compelling premise with moments of genuine character development with some great action scenes, yet these pluses are continually undercut by nonsensical plotting short-cuts that amount to nothing more than lazy storytelling.

Speaking of scripting nonsense, Jaime hooks up with Tom the ever-so helpful, ever so hot-for-her teaching assistant (Jordan Bridges) within 5 minutes of her getting on campus when he slips her the answer to a question when called upon by the professor.

At first we’re lead to believe he’s the bad guy but he’s actually a competing agent—with the CIA. Hey yeah, last time we checked the CIA was legally prohibited from operating domestically, which is to say from inside the United States. That, unless the show’s producers have stopped trying to pretend that they’re not in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

More disappointing is the total lack of follow up to last episode’s bombshell that Jaime’s bionic implants and her lifespan only have a five-year shelf life. There was some tension between Jaime and Antonio Pope (Isaiah Washington) but nothing specific in that his character is a know-it-all tool.

Are these episodes being aired out-of-order than they’ve been produced? Or is it that the Bionic Woman’s revolving creative door since the pilot episode has resulted in some major inconsistencies and an overall lack of vision for this series.

Bionic Woman Executive Producer David Eick suffers from the blessing and the curse that is Battlestar Galactica. As half of the team that “re-imagined” Galactica, it was his success with BSG that bought him street cred to “re-imagine” Bionic Woman—another ‘70s show that always walked the line between sci-fi and silly.

As a consequence, Eick suffers from heightened (perhaps unfairly) expectations but Eick is a producer not the writer and Bionic Woman has yet to find its own creative rainmaker like Ronald D. Moore.

The “re-imagined” Galactica took all that was good about the original show and built upon that premise while layering it with character, character, character.

This Bionic Woman is far from silly yet it failed to take its premise completely seriously so why should the viewer?

This new Bionic Woman isn’t so much “re-imagined” as it is re-made. They’ve replaced the leisure suit with black leather and the special effects have improved but this new show suffers from a lack of imagination.

We really want Bionic Woman to work, in order to succeed; it has to do a lot better than simply not sucking.


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