TV Review: The Bionic Woman– Pilot

That other superwoman named “Sommers” returns to television, a little darker than her 70s incarnation.

Directed by Michael
Dinner

Written by Laeta
Kalogridis

Michelle Ryan as Jamie
Sommers
Katee Sackoff as Sara Corvis
Full Cast and Crew

Premise

The tv-bionics craze made a lot of money in the 1970s, and contemporary executives, hoping that lightning will strike again, have reinvented one of the old bionic shows. After her vehicle is struck by a transport, a brilliant underachiever has her damaged body parts replaced and augmented with…. Well, that’s a good question. These aren’t conventional cybernetics.

High Point

Sackoff shines as the evil bionic woman, Faith to Ryan’s Buffy, and the episode uses their doppelganger relationship to explain Jamie’s decision at the conclusion. There’s actually some hope for characterization.

Low Point

It’s not very interesting, it’s definitely not original, and the pilot appears to have been edited by someone with A.D.D. It lurches and jumps choppily from one scene to another.

I recognize they’re leaving the role and character of Jamie’s sister to be developed further in future episodes, but they needed to have some reason for her sporadic presence in this one.

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6 It’s not enough that someone is revisiting an old show. It’s not enough that, for the umpty-hundredth time, someone is taking a squeaky-clean peachy-keen hero from the past and making her darker. No, the pilot also steals from every pop-heroic fantasy of the past few decades, from Superman to Buffy and Dark Angel.1

Effects: 4/6.

Story: 3/6. It’s not so much bad as it is dull and predicable, and they’ve also riddled the first act with wooden expository dialogue.

Acting: 4/6. The guest-star gives the strongest performance. The others are passable.

Emotional Response: 3/6.

Production: 5/6.

Overall: 3/6. The original was cheesy, but it had simplicity and purity of premise. Jaimie Sommers had mechanical replacement parts that gave her superpowers. She worked for a shadowy but noble secret agency. In this version, Jamie Sommers has poorly-defined and wildly advanced technology implanted in her and works for a truly shady agency. In order to pull this version off, they need exceptional scripting and acting. The pilot does not leave me hopeful.

In total, the pilot of The Bionic Woman receives 23/42

1. The Superman sequence, granted, could be viewed as homage.

19 replies on “TV Review: The Bionic Woman– Pilot”

  1. J_W_W says:

    C’mon
    It wasn’t that bad. However at many times, I wondered if Battlestar Galactica were back on already.

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: C’mon

      It wasn’t that bad. However at many times, I wondered if Battlestar Galactica were back on already.

      Agreed: there were a few other BSG cast members I was pleasantly surprised to see in this.

      I enjoyed this show. I think it’s got a lot of promise. There wasn’t anything I loathed, and there was quite a bit I enjoyed. Oh well, your mileage may vary.

      I always enjoy coming back to B42 when the new reviews start. Here’s to another season of semi-amiable fan banter.

      Cheers,

      -Joe G.

      • Fozzy_Bear says:

        Re: C’mon

        It wasn’t that bad. However at many times, I wondered if Battlestar Galactica were back on already.

        Agreed: there were a few other BSG cast members I was pleasantly surprised to see in this.

        There wasn’t anything I loathed, and there was quite a bit I enjoyed.

        Cheers,

        -Joe G.

        Yeah, I’m a big fan of most of the BSG staff, but to see so much of them in the same place actually became a distraction for me.

        All in all, I was not excited about the promise of this, but like you mentioned, There wasn’t anything I actively hated, and there was actually a bit I enjoyed.

        meh… who knows… I had almost the exact same opinion of "Encounter at Farpoint" and THAT turned out OK.

        Cheers bak at ya’ Joe G.

        – Fozzy

  2. joe__gee says:

    A sneaky cameo …
    In the first scene with Jaime, look in the background. Who else is tending bar besides Michael Hogen, good ole Saul himself? :)

    I love it. Great cameo. :)

    -Joe

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: A sneaky cameo …

      In the first scene with Jaime, look in the background. Who else is tending bar besides Michael Hogen, good ole Saul himself? :)

      I love it. Great cameo. :)

      -Joe

      Ooooh, I missed that. I’m gonna have to go back and check it out.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: A sneaky cameo …

        Ooooh, I missed that. I’m gonna have to go back and check it out.

        He’s very easy to spot. I’m wondering if he’s not there because later on in the season his character will actually become a part of the show.

        Those darned Cylons are infiltrating *another* TV show. Galactica had better do something quick or we’ll have Cylons on game shows, Cylons on news programs, and Cylons in our schools.

        My gods, THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN.

        -Joe

        • Vulch says:

          Re: A sneaky cameo …

          Those darned Cylons are infiltrating *another* TV show. Galactica had better do something quick or we’ll have Cylons on game shows, Cylons on news programs, and Cylons in our schools.

          Too late. Obviously Galactica and the fleet have already reached earth and we are being prepared to fight off the imminent Cylon attack. Why else is series 4 being put off till next year, they’re still setting up the cameras in orbit to film the finale! :-)

    • Trekkie says:

      Re: A sneaky cameo …

      In the first scene with Jaime, look in the background. Who else is tending bar besides Michael Hogen, good ole Saul himself? :)

      I love it. Great cameo. :)

      -Joe

      I kept looking for Lindsay Wagner the entire episode and was disappointed she didn’t show up as some kind of character.

      Overall, I was bored with the episode, the music during the ‘big fight scene’ was extremely distracting and overall I don’t see what the fuss was about. The complete lack of techno babble was interesting and the ‘implants randomly coming online’ was a new take. Overall though, not a worthy successor and I don’t think it’s gonna last.

      • Kiersten says:

        Re: A sneaky cameo …

        I kept looking for Lindsay Wagner the entire episode and was disappointed she didn’t show up as some kind of character.

        I was too! LOL
        Glad I’m not the only one!
        I wonder if they even asked her…

  3. Nickvotrobeck says:

    Condensed?
    It seemed to me that the story skipped ahead at various times like it had been edited down from a two-hour pilot with all of the exposition removed. This left us with lots of action but no description of what this shadow agency does or how Mark Sheppard’s character got out of prison. If this is true I’d love to see the original cut.

    • Kiersten says:

      Re: Condensed?

      It seemed to me that the story skipped ahead at various times like it had been edited down from a two-hour pilot with all of the exposition removed. This left us with lots of action but no description of what this shadow agency does or how Mark Sheppard’s character got out of prison. If this is true I’d love to see the original cut.

      That thought had crossed my mind, too! It just seemed like a lot was missing….

      • Fozzy_Bear says:

        Re: Condensed?

        …like it had been edited down from a two-hour pilot …If this is true I’d love to see the original cut.

        That thought had crossed my mind, too! It just seemed like a lot was missing….

        Yeah. But with the way things were going…. I’ll bet the prison warden was played by Edward J. Olmos… :D

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: Condensed?

      It seemed to me that the story skipped ahead at various times like it had been edited down from a two-hour pilot with all of the exposition removed. This left us with lots of action but no description of what this shadow agency does or how Mark Sheppard’s character got out of prison. If this is true I’d love to see the original cut.

      I think you’re right. Also there’s been a lot of press on the show lately, that I think points to creative differences between the showrunners (one of whom left). I think they really need to get her in "mission" mode soon.

      BTW: Does anyone have any idea if he boyfriend lived or died? They never really cleared that up – as far as I can see.

      • hossman says:

        Re: Condensed?

        BTW: Does anyone have any idea if he boyfriend lived or died? They never really cleared that up – as far as I can see.

        The lives … they are taking him to the hospital as Jamie walks up to the head of the agency in the last scene. you can see that they aren’t in a huge hurry, suggesting it’s not that serious of an injury … probably went clean through.

        although i think there is a gaff in there … i think they describe it was a GSW to the left sholder, but i’m pretty sure you see him get hit in the right shoulder.

    • hossman says:

      Re: Condensed?

      It seemed to me that the story skipped ahead at various times like it had been edited down from a two-hour pilot with all of the exposition removed. This left us with lots of action but no description of what this shadow agency does or how Mark Sheppard’s character got out of prison. If this is true I’d love to see the original cut.

      There were some significant differences, but ironically the "skipping ahead" wasn’t one of them … that stuff with the "villians" that is very confusing and shadowy and leaves a lot unexplained was actually very faithful to the original. you never find out how the first bionic woman lived or who the guy who ordered her to kill the doc is or who the guy in prison was and why they broke him out.

      On the whole i think the original pilot was *MUCH* better, below is an email i sent a friend regarding the differences. apparently one of the reasons they changed the character of the sister was because deaf advocacy groups complained about a deaf character being played by an actress who can hear fine — but frankly the solution to that is to recast the actress, not completely change the character so that you lose huge aspects of the "body image" and "physically superior/disabled" themes.

      Anyway here’s the full details…

      I just watched the broadcast pilot for Bionic Woman — the one you
      watched from Amazon UnBox — and i have to retract a lot of my earlier
      comments about the sister…

      : besides: there has to be someone she’s close to who doesn’t know about her
      : powers, if it wsan’t a sister, it would be some coworker — the "unwanted
      : power" super hero formula doesn’t work without someone wondering where she
      : disappears to all the time.

      : i’m guessing the sister will not actually show up in every episode ..
      : especailly if they wind up with multi-episode story arcs (which given teh
      : creators seems highly likely). They did a good job of setting the sister
      : up as being very self reliant and rebellious, so it will be easy to
      : explain her not being arround all the time.

      …the single biggest difference between teh orriginal pilot and the one
      they broadcast is that they not only changed the acress playing the sister
      (it was orriginally Mae Whitman — aka: Ann from Arrested Development, who
      was great in "Thief") but they completely changed hte character.

      this sister totally blows goat, and wess is right — the show would be
      better without her.

      Orriginally the sister was a Deaf, uber rebellious Punk chick with tatoos
      her sister didn’t even know about. my comment about being self reliant
      was specificly in refrence to dialog about her (the deaf sister) not
      coming home everynight (the bit about their dad was a little differnet too
      …i think they actually mentioned that parents parents were dead, and
      that the sister had been living on her own on the streets before showing
      up on the main characters door).

      there was something really cool about the tri-chotomy of:
      a) the deaf sister who is more confident then her healthy sister
      b) the healthy sister who gets a bunch of bionics and goes through an
      identy crisis
      c) the "villians" why modify themselves to remove the "weak" human parts
      of them.

      there are a lot of other little differences between the pilots (mostly
      editing) … none of them have been improvements. the things that
      jumped out at me and really worry me about hte future plans for the
      show…
      1) the music wasn’t this sappy before
      2) her sister was not some sort of convicted computer hacker (god help
      us where they plan on taking that)
      3) when she goes out for her date, it was her nameless old land lady
      that "babysits" the sister. these two new freinds they added just for that
      scene worry me … are these chick going to be characters?
      4) when she’s running really fast for the first time, there was no CSI
      style fly through of her leg muscles to point out ‘hey, she can run really
      fast"
      5) when she comes home after being away, the "where were you scene?" was
      orriginally a lot more dispassionate … you could tell the sister had
      been concerend, and missed her, but was shrugging it off. there also
      wasn’t this "you and i both know you don’t ski, where were you really? ..
      i can’t tell you" bullshit. lame.

      Now i understand why the executive producer quit, after seeing the episode
      they aired, I lost a lot of the hope that i had for this show.

      This one TV critic i found compared the two versions really well
      really well…

      http://www.buddytv.com/articles/bionic-woman/retooled-bionic-woman-pilot-hi-10729.aspx
      "In short, the new Bionic Woman is less dense in the interpersonal
      aspects, and more polished in the blackened science fiction murk that it
      seeks to bring. The color temperature is up, but the mood is down."

      "The trimming and character shuffling most definitely seems like a dumbing
      down to any self respecting viewer, …"

      "Those of use who savor characters and conflict will mourn the loss of
      Bionic Woman’s more challenging architectural features, but fun loving
      science fiction fans probably won’t bat an eye at the absence of them.
      The retooled Bionic Woman, creative differences aside, is definitely
      closer to the reimagining of a campy sci fi franchise, versus, say,
      Battlestar Galactica."

      • Cerberus7 says:

        Re: Condensed?
        That’s kinda sad. I thought the pilot was alright, at least enough for me to give it a few weeks chance. Now I’m much less optimistic. The original sounds like it was far superior, and I won’t be so surprised now if it turns out the series is crap.

  4. Gaewyn says:

    I was just waiting for
    Previously an Bionic Galactica…

    Or would it by Battlestar Woman?!?

    • vanyel says:

      Re: I was just waiting for

      Previously an Bionic Galactica…

      Or would it by Battlestar Woman?!?

      I figure with the short seasons a lot of these shows do these days, it gives them a chance to alternate between series. I’m looking forward to seeing Mark Sheppard as a regular!

      In any case, put me in the "I rather liked it" camp…

  5. Jethro says:

    Katee
    I think Katee Sackoff is going to be really good when they make a TV show out of The Matrix.

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