TV Review: Bionic Woman On NBC

Bionic Woman

Created By: David Eick

Starring:Michelle Ryan, Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, Lucy Hale

Premieres: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 9 p.m. on NBC

The original Bionic Woman aired in the late 70’s, before I was born. I vaguely recall watching the reruns as a kid but my memory of the series is limited to wishing I could have super hearing and crush things with my bare hands. Even as an adult, I’d still like to have these powers so naturally, I was very interested in seeing the re-imagined version of Bionic Woman. Based on the first episode, which is currently available for free to download on Amazon UnBox, I’d say this series has real potential.

Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) is a fairly normal (though strikingly beautiful) woman. Her mother is dead and her father is out of the picture so she’s left to look after her teenaged-sister, Becca (Lucy Hale). Becca’s your typical teen-with-problems. For some reason, which isn’t explained to us in the episode, she’s not supposed to have access to a computer. We also learn that Jaime is a bartender and dating a professor/Bionic scientist, Will (Chris Bowers).

When Will and Jaime are in a horrific car accident, Will takes her to a secret lab where he has her broken parts replaced with bionic parts. Her legs, an arm, eye and ear are all upgraded. When she wakes, she has to deal with the knowledge of what’s been done to her as well as adjusting to her new strengths. Then of course, there’s the threat posed by Sarah Corvus (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica), whom we learn is the original bionic woman. She’s former military, was presumed dead and has now gone rogue. What her current mission is, aside from killing some of the scientists that made her the way she is (including Will), is currently unknown. There are two other characters involved in the plan but in an effort not to spoil the entire episode, I’ll leave out the details there.

After a bionic-cat-fight with Sarah, Jaime soon realizes that in order for her to really be able to make use of her abilities, she’ll need to be trained up. She consents to working with the scientists that “built” her as long as it’s on her terms.

Bionic Woman has a number of things going for it. For starters, while it does drift occasionally into sci-fi territory, it looks like it will be very accessible to non-geeks. The relationship between Jaime and her sister will most likely be developed throughout the series. There was enough of that shown in the first episode to suggest that there are some problems with Becca that will need to be addressed at some point.

There is definitely more to Jaime’s back-story than we got to see in the first episode. One of the things that struck me as a bit odd was how, with the exception of her initial freak-out over the powers she has, she appeared to take to her new super-strength fairly quickly. Normally, I’d complain about this because frankly, it’s unrealistic, even for television. After all, she is just a bartender. But it was mentioned at one point in the episode that she has some kind of criminal record - an incident from her past that was sealed by the courts. This could explain her somewhat tough-guy attitude.

Then of course, there’s the story arc that will involve Jaime’s training and adjusting to her new abilities in preparation for whatever missions she’ll be sent on by the secret organization that Will works for. In a recent interview with Michelle Ryan, she says of her character, “You’ve got Jaime making scrambled eggs for her sister and she’s breaking the eggs and then you’ve got her on these missions and really scared before she has to use her bionic abilities.” Jaime is a woman with real-life problems, which obviously extend further than broken eggs. These problems, added to this new life that’s been thrust upon her will surely drive the show more than anything else.

While I think the series will be largely story-driven, there is definitely an abundance of special effects and stunts in this show. The fight between Jaime and Sarah reminded me of the end of Season 3 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, when Buffy and Faith brawled. It’s fun to see two women really throw down with one another and I expect there will be much more of that to come in Bionic. In addition to Jaime’s slayer-like strength, she also has the ability to heal fast, which will likely prove to be very convenient when trying to balance her new top-secret career with her everyday life.

The series creator, David Eick, appears to be going the same route he took when writing and producing the re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica alongside Ronald Moore. While the general story to Bionic is very similar to the original, the re-imagined version will most likely be a bit more complex in terms of the character development.

As shows centering on people with superhuman abilities are becoming more common these days, good writing and a compelling story will be more important to the success of Bionic than special effects and stunts. I’m hoping that with Eick behind the show, the series will succeed in the ratings because based on the pilot episode, there’s definitely a lot of potential for this series to be great.

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Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.