Bionic Woman: Season 1 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING enjoyed considerable success and acclaim for his reinvention of Battlestar Galactica (which continues to go from strength to strength), executive producer David Eick decided to try his luck with the 1970s series The Bionic Woman with vastly different results.
The series attempted to marry raw, gritty storylines that played on today’s global concerns [terrorism, etc] with a touchy-feely love story and some sibling bonding that never really gelled. It therefore came as no surprise to find that the show got cancelled as part of the inevitable cull of new products that met premature ends due to the writers’ strike of 2007/8.
The problems with Bionic Woman were evident from the outset. The pilot was full of gaping plot holes, a lack of logic and an uneven tone. But future episodes fell into the similar trap of promising more than they delivered.
The story centred around Jamie Sommers (former EastEnders star Michelle Ryan) as she awakes from a horrific car crash to discover that scientists – led by her fiancee – have saved her life by installing high-tech body parts that give her incredible strength and speed.
Indebted to them, she subsequently has to use her powers for their projects while she conceals her new abilities from her younger sister (Lucy Kate Hale).
Admittedly, given that this first season of Bionic Woman never got to run its course it’s hard to be too critical as certain plot points that felt under-developed (or forgotten) may have been being stored for the tail-end of a run they never got to finish making.
But a story arc involving rival bionic woman Sarah Corvus (Battlestar‘s Katee Sackhoff) never got developed and left too many questions unanswered. Corvus was also, arguably, a more interesting character than the slightly bland Jamie Sommers.
Isaiah Washington’s government colleague Antonio Pope, meanwhile, was killed off just as his character became interesting – and his demise failed to carry the impact the show’s creators were probably anticipating.
Too many episodes underplayed the supposed danger element of the threats to world security and often wrapped things up too quickly, too neatly and way too happily. But then they were often attempting to cram too much in, with too much time spent examining the family dynamic between Jamie and her sister (bickering one minute, doing girly stuff the next).
The inclusion of a love interest, in the form of Jordan Bridges’s CIA agent Tom Hastings, merely dragged things out still further and felt painfully cliched – especially during an ill-advised mission to Paris during the episode The List.
That said, there were a few positives to come from the series – most notably, Michelle Ryan who convinced as an action heroine, complete with a strong American accent. She may have been working against a lacklustre script most of the time, but she handled everything thrown at her to suggest she has a bright future ahead of her.
Top marks, too, to Miguel Ferrer as Jamie’s boss, who managed to continually keep a straight face in spite of some truly appalling lines. He somehow kept his dignity intact.
The action scenes, too, occasionally delivered some thrills, even though there was an over-reliance on sped up shots of Michelle Ryan running, or slow-motion fights in the rain that had already become unfashionable by the time the last Matrix movie came to an end.
There was a tinge of regret, for Ryan’s sake, that Bionic Woman suffered such an early decline. But with so much to repair and dwindling audience figures, it would have taken a bionic effort of its own to make this series really worth watching.