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A Rather Early Look at “Bionic Woman”

May 16, 2007 3:33 PM

Live at the Upfronts

For “Bionic Woman,” NBC should read the book “Good to Great.” The pilot is good … it’s just not great … and for anything to survive next fall, it needs to be great … but all the elements are there for it to be great with a little extra effort. Got it? Good. Great.

The opening scene is terrific (some mild spoilers coming, for those who are sensitive). Armed soldiers marching down the hall a remote research facility. They storm past bloody corpses torn apart. They find a cowering woman responsible for the carnage, played by Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”) with her usual feral intensity. Sackhoff says she can’t control herself and asks the lead soldier if he loves her. He says he does, then he shoots her. Great stuff. Great sci-fi. Go geek TV.

Then the pilot downshifts to merely good with introduction of lead Michelle Ryan as Jamie Sommers. Her relationship with her angry/deaf teen sister feels forced. Her scientist boyfriend says there’s something special about her, but the audience needs a little help seeing it too.

You know NBC is going for an episodic, self-contained show because within about 15 minutes Sommers has had her accident (which is effective and startling) and received her bionic transplants. We’re then told she needs to “sing for her supper” by working for the mysterious government organization, which she’s understandably reluctant to do.

For fans of “Battlestar” (“Bionic” executive producer David Eick also produces “BSG”) there’s not one, but three “BSG” vets cast in the pilot, two of which appear to have recurring roles (wary of spoilers, I won’t say which). Needless to say, there’s a climactic rooftop battle that should please sci-fi fans.

Though many have compared “Bionic” to “Heroes,” they feel very different. “Heroes” is heavily serialized, “Bionic” is self-contained. “Heroes” is ensemble, “Bionic” is focused on Sommers. “Heroes” aims to be a living comic book, while “Bionic” embraces its 1970s spin-off roots. It’s not trying to reinvent the TV wheel, just give it a good spin.

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[...] Even a bionic woman can’t be in two places at once, so how is “Battlestar Galactica” actress Katee Sackhoff going to manage her fourth season of “Battlestar” commitment with a “recurring guest role” in “Bionic Woman”? (Yes, I know I wrote earlier that I wasn’t going to spoil which “BSG” vets are recurring in “Bionic,” but it’s all over the Internet now anyway). [...] [Read More]

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