Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bionic Women, Now and Then

by M.J. Hamada (writer), Santa Monica, September 27, 2007

Credit: IMDb
Bionic Woman, 2007

A review of the 2007 Bionic Woman, and a comparison with the original 1976 version.

"A lineup so powerful we can only call it..." Yep, you've seen the ads: Bionic Wednesday. NBC has been drilling that phrase into our heads for the past month. And now that the big night has come and gone, did Bionic Woman, the flagship for NBC's hump-day lineup, blow you away - or did it just blow?

Surely, Jaime Sommers could tear it up...back in the day. That's back when she was fending off Fembots, flirting with Steve Austin and taking her bionic dog Maximillion out for walks. In those days, Jaime was played by the lovely and down-to-earth Lindsay Wagner. That's right: the Sleep Number Woman. She played Jaime with a certain vulnerability and gave her a homely beauty. Also, it was the '70s, when a female cyborg crime-fighter was fresh and cutting-edge. Fast-forward 30 years, and now they're a dime a dozen.

So, while the original version packed a punch, will this re-bionicized Jaime Sommers be more of a sucker punch to viewers?

"Re-bionicized" doesn't necessarily mean "better, stronger, faster," but the story has certainly been re-imagined. Essentially, they have changed everything except the character name, the show name (from which they've dropped the The) and the idea of rebuilding a woman with bionics. Previous Jaime: A pro tennis player who had a near-fatal parachuting accident, was revived with bionics and then went on to fight the good fight with Oscar Goldman and his peeps, battling a new threat each week. Current Jaime: A bartender who plays Mom to her younger sister, gets pulverized in an auto "accident" (no accident, we quickly learn), is revived with bionics and then joins forces (next week, anyway) with Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer, of Crossing Jordan fame), battling what looks to be one specific threat.

This Jaime (Michelle Ryan, in her biggest role since an episode of The Worst Witch) has the same bionic body parts as the '70s version - both legs, one arm, one ear - plus a bionic eye, like Steve Austin had in The Six Million Dollar Man. Of course, this time around, there's no Steve Austin; instead, we have as her boyfriend Will Anthros (Chris Bowers), who just so happens to be a bionics scientist. Hm, fishy... There's no cheesy slow motion. No Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch! sound effects when the bionic woman is doing her bionic-y stuff.

Also, Jaime is not the first bionic woman; that would be Sarah Corvus, who happens to do the aforementioned pulverizing of the car Jaime's riding in. Hm, fishier... So, yes, Sarah Corvus will likely be Jaime's main nemesis (until they join forces against the real threat, Daddy Anthros - but that's purely speculation). And, yes, Corvus is played by Katee Sackhoff, from that other remade series, Battlestar Galactica. (Starbuck - now there's re-imagining.)

One scene between Jaime and Sarah should have been impressive: the rooftop battle in the rain. It had all the ingredients of a decent scene yet ended up flat. The choreography and editing left something to be desired. So did the dialogue. The previews leading up to the premiere revealed this gem: Sarah getting the upperhand and saying, "You're gonna have to do better than that"; then Jaime fighting back, throwing Sarah down and asking, "How am I doing now?" What the previews didn't show us is Sarah's reply: "Not bad. Not bad at all." What a Vader line.

Not bad at all? I can't say the same for this Bionic Woman premiere. Still, it wasn't horrid and may turn around - like Jericho almost did. For nostalgia's sake, I'll stick with it. That is, until Lost returns. When that happens, Jaime, you're on your own.

About the Writer

M.J. Hamada is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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