"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bionic Woman: Pilot

I finally watched the much buzzed about Bionic Woman debut. So does the show live up to all of the hype? Not yet at least.

British actress Michelle Ryan stars as the title character, who begins as an average bartender named Jaime Sommers - the character name is the same, but little else is similar to the 1970s series the new incarnation of Bionic Woman is based on. Jaime has been dating Will (Chris Bowers), a college professor who has a pretty big secret about who else employs him. This is revealed to Jaime in highly dramatic and traumatic fashion when she is in a terrible car accident, and Will brings her to the secret government agency he works for and uses their technology to save her, and in the process, enhance her.

Jaime wakes up to find out she's had much of her body replaced by new bionic body parts, giving her super strength, speed, sight, hearing, and more. This is not exactly great news to Jaime though, who is more than a little aghast at her new body, and less than cooperative with Will and those he works for, including Jonas (Miguel Ferrer), Ruth (Molly Price), Jae (Will Yun Lee). In the meantime, Jaime has a new stalker, a woman named Sarah (Katee Sackhoff), who was actually the person behind Jaime's accident; an event Jaime only has vague memories of.

The pilot to Bionic Woman is definitely a clunky one. There's a lot of rushed through and choppy exposition, such as a scene beginning with almost no build up, in which Jaime is telling Will she doesn't know why a brilliant professor like him would be with a drop out like her, in order to give the audience that information in a far too direct and less than subtle manner. There's also some semi-laughable dialogue like "We have to get you to rehab." "What for?" "Rehabilitation." Ahh, thanks for clearing that up.

So what works? Well, this is a sci-fi/action show, and taken on those terms, it's a fairly cool one. The accident that starts Jaime off on her new life is a startling and effective sequence. The Peter Parker-esque moments where Jaime experiments with her new powers by leaping from one building to the next work well. And some amusingly overdone grunts and shrieks aside, the fight scene between Jaime and Sarah that ends the episode is a strong one with some nice moments for both characters.

That being said, one nice touch in the pilot is that Jaime is not instantly a bad ass, and her super-leaps and other moves don't always go as planned, so hopefully as her character becomes more comfortable with her new abilities, Ryan will convey this blossoming in her performance. Among the supporting cast, the ever-dependable Ferrer stands out, bringing some of his trademark sarcasm to a role that evokes his similar one working on a cyborg twenty years ago in RoboCop.

"Remains to be seen" is the phrase of choice for Bionic Woman. Will this show find the right tone and style and come into its own? Watching the pilot, it's easy to see how Bionic Woman could easily be developed into something strong, or just as easily simply fail to come together. Here's hoping for the former to occur.

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