Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bionic Woman: Calisthenics

I gave "Private Practice" the solo treatment a week ago, seems only fair to do it now for "Bionic Woman." (I've seen "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Gossip Girl," too, but may not be able to post about them today.) Spoilers coming up just as soon as I chat up strangers at the bookstore...

Still not feeling this yet. Like "Reaper," episode two spent a lot of time rehashing or simply reliving developments that had already happened in the pilot. Why did we need to spend a third of the episode on Jamie refusing to work for Jonas, then agreeing to so long as he met her terms, when that was the exact substance of the final scene of the pilot? Also, did I miss the moment last week where it was clear Jamie's boyfriend Will was going to die? I actually am fine with him being gone (if, indeed, he is), as the actor didn't add much, but when we left things, he seemed to just have one of those Hollywood through and through gunshot wounds that somehow missed all his vital organs.

There were some attempts to let Michaell Ryan seem more relaxed and confident, like the aborted drunken pick-up, but she's still a blank to me. Katee Sackhoff had more physical presence casually crouched on the floor of that hotel room than Ryan had in the entire episode. And, as happened last week, the episode sped through far too much of what should be the heart of these early shows: Jamie's reaction to discovering how powerful she is now. Montages are kewl and easy and all that, but I would have loved the fight training, or the one-armed pull-ups, or whatever, to stand on their own and breathe a little. Maybe we hear Jamie complain about how much she hated pull-ups in high school, only to be amazed at how kick-ass she is with one arm now, that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, Isaiah Washington enters, in a role that feels a bit like a melding of the Will character (maybe that's why he's dead?) and Jae the fight trainer (who also seemed to be a commando leader type in the pilot). Rageaholic, homophobe, whatever you want to call him, Washington has charisma on camera, though often in a way that becomes so intense you stop looking at the character and start looking at the actor. Since people are already going to be looking at the actor, given the messy "Grey's Anatomy" exit, it's a good thing that he's playing this part in a more natural style. I'm just not sure what he adds to the show, other than controversy -- the number of bosses/middle managers at the bionics factory already makes half the supporting cast feel redundant -- and based on the ratings (down about 2 million viewers from a week ago, same as "Private Practice"), the controversy didn't bring any new viewers to the show.

The action remains mediocre, and while there's nothing about the show that really puts me off, there's very little (save Sackhoff) that really has me interested in continuing, outside of a professional obligation to keep track of one of this fall's more hyped rookies.

What did everybody else think?


Bobman said...

Can't argue with much, if anything, you said here; it all just feels a bit sloppy in the storytelling. But at the same time I enjoyed it a lot more than the premiere.

One thing I can slightly disagree with you on is that I thought they did a good job of making Michelle Ryan a bit more likable. Or maybe she just did a better job of presenting herself. She's still not great, but last week she just seemed like a mopey whiner, at least this week she seemed a bit more excited and interesting.

I feel like it takes a few weeks for these types of shows to hit their stride, so I'll stick with it for a few more. Plus I love the concept so much I hate to give up on it.

AnnaRay said...

I think someone mentioned this last week, but Sackoff really seems to be the only one who understands that there's an element of camp you cannot escape with a show like this. I keep thinking back to Buffy before Whedon went off to concentrate on Serenity. He handled serious stuff without ever losing the sense of humor that underwrote it all -- that sense of, 'We know this is all really ridiculous, but enjoy the ride.'

Plus, some of the dialogue is just painful.

BF said...

I thought Ryan was a tad better than last week. Of course, that could just be the soft bigotry of low expectations. And I'm looking forward to little sister (her?) going off to live with Dad because she brings NOTHING.

And I could have done without the gratuitous Halliburton slam (which would have made more sense as a gratuitous Blackwater slam).

Anonymous said...

Wow, what happened to Molly Price? She was AWFUL. I kept hoping she'd get killed or something, because the character and the way she played it were so cliche.

I agree with most of your review, though I thought Washington was far more effective as a character than any of the others so far, with the exception of Kim, I suppose, or maybe that's because I like Will Yun Lee in anything. Except Elektra Never Elektra.

Ryan is still too much of a lightweight, but at least she was allowed to crack a smile.

R.A. Porter said...

Times like this, Alan, are when I do *not* envy the life of a TV critic. I do not have "a professional obligation to keep track of one of this fall's more hyped rookies", so I didn't have to watch.

It would take a suggestion a commenter on Ken Levine's blog had last week for me to pick up this show after that dreary pilot:

Jaime Sommers (no relation to Buffy) dies while defeating evil bionic girl. Evil bionic girl is taken to lab where her evilness is erased and turned into a hero. In order to have her function in society, she is given Jaime's name and identity. So as battlestar ends, Katie Sackoff becomes the new more interesting Jaime Sommers. Don't laugh. It works. I've done this kind of thing a thousand times when writing comics.

barefootjim said...

It struck me last night that this is also essentially the same show as "Reaper" and "Chuck:" underachiever suddenly gains new powers.

And it also struck me that I'm watching all three shows for essentially the same reason: I like the people -- Adam Baldwin, Ray Wise and Katee Sackhoff -- who are playing the bad'uns.

However, if all three shows seem to dive down the MOTW path, I can watch the three actors above in far superior shows.

Anonymous said...

I didn't hate the Bionic Woman pilot like so many others, but I still thought that episode 2 was a marked improvement.

The best thing that they did was to lighten things up and inject a lot more humor, plus it helped that Michelle Ryan wasn't whining about her situation this time. She was wisecracking a little and seemed to actually be enjoying her new abilities.

I have a theory about Sarah Corvus, though; now that they've introduced the concept of her being hacked, is it possible that this is being done so as to give them a plausible chance of rehabilitating her.

Can anyone else conceive of a future storyline in which Jamie Sommers is hacked and has to be taken down by a rehabbed Sarah Corvus, just in time to let Katee Sackhoff take the lead for season 2 and beyond?

Crazy? Maybe. Crazy like a fox? Maybe that, too!

Anonymous said...

I believe Sackhoff has already been invited to become a full time cast member once her BSG commitments are finished.

K J Gillenwater said...

I think the previews for next week show that there will be some kind of Sarah/Jamie truce. Maybe it will end up more like that...Jamie goes to her for help or explanations or what have you. We find out more about Sarah and why she killed the fiance...because right now, it doesn't make sense to me why Sarah only targeted the fiance and not everyone else in the organization. Maybe he was the one that hacked into her for some reason???

I also thought the discovery of the file was intriguing. He'd been watching Jamie for years. Why? Did he accidentally fall in love witih this person? Was it his intention all along to bring her into the program?

There are intriguing questions brought up, but they don't spend enough time on them. Also, what happened to the prison escapee who was the fiance's father? They showed him off in the mountains last week...and then nothing last night?

I think this show has potential. I'm not sure why they are rushing Jamie getting used to her bionics. There must be a bigger story they want to tell that we just haven't quite seen yet.

barefootjim said...

One more thing: I wish that this show was witty enough to acknowledge the original.

It would have been awesome if Katee Sackhoff had said: "I'm the first Bionic Woman. You know, like the TV show."

I know that brings up all sorts of issues of meta (so, don't call the character "Jamie Sommers") (or even better write that into the backstory of the dossier Will had on her), but I hate shows that take place in our pop culture world in every aspect except for what the show is about.

Which was why Buffy's "Scooby Gang" was so awesome.

I mean, Smallville -- we've had 50 years of the Superman myth in our culture, d'ya think that somebody might have might have figured it out already?

I feel better now.

Li Wen said...

The Bishop character kind of exemplifies everything I find objectionable about the show. You don't give him an implied torture scene like that and then allow him to walk away from it without questioning his actions - cavalier, as if it didn't mean anything - or worse, I sensed that the reaction we're supposed to be giving is: "Gosh, isn't he a badarse? GREAT CHARACTER." It's like La Femme Nikita, LITE. Excerpt if you're going to go into it halfway, you're better not going there at all.