Tuesday, September 25

'Bionic Woman' needs less superficial angst, more Katee Sackhoff

Source: The Watcher

There are moments when “Bionic Woman” (8 p.m. Wednesday, WMAQ-Ch. 5), the disappointingly average remake of the Lindsay Wagner vehicle from the ’70s, comes to life.

They’re when Katee Sackhoff (who plays Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on “Battlestar Galactica”) is on the screen. The catch: Sackhoff isn’t playing the show’s main character.

Jaime Sommers is played by English actress Michelle Ryan, and every time she and Sackhoff are together, I wished that the producers had waited one more season to make “Bionic Woman.”

If they’d held off, Sackhoff, who finishes “Battlestar” in early 2008, could have played Sommers. But even then, she would have had to work mightily to overcome the script’s leaden dialogue and dour tone.

Sackhoff’s recurring character is Sarah Corvus, another bionic woman who went rogue. Playing her as a lady with a penchant for bright red lipstick and melodramatic rebellion, Sackhoff bites into the villainess role with glee. In her scenes, “Bionic Woman” is every bit the slightly campy, action-oriented, B-grade escapism-fest I wanted it to be.

The trouble is, despite sterling supporting players Miguel Ferrer (the head of the secret research lab where Sommers’ new limbs and other gizmos are implanted) and Mark Sheppard (a pioneer of bionic research now in prison), “Bionic Woman” just isn’t much fun.

The show’s publicity materials hype “Jaime’s journey of self-discovery and inner strength.” But it’s hard to take “Bionic’s” ambitions seriously when the script is full of lines such as, “You rehabilitate yourself!” and “Guess he must have left his IQ in the car.”

It appears that “Bionic Woman” wants to be both a compelling action show and a serious drama. In the early going, however, it’s merely pretty good in the action department. As for the drama, “Bionic Woman” (so far) mistakes solemnity and humorlessness for depth.

Also, there’s lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain. Is that also supposed to convey depth? It only conveyed to me the idea that the actors were probably freezing in those scenes.

The best news I’ve heard about the show is that Jason Katims, the head writer for “Friday Night Lights,” will be consulting on “Bionic Woman” scripts. The casting of the far from charismatic Ryan may be an unfixable mistake, but if Katims can provide these characters and these scripts with some texture and soul and even lightness, then “Bionic” may move up several places on my already overcrowded TiVo Season Pass list.

Yes, I will keep watching -- it'd be nice to see the show greatly improve, as "Heroes" did last year. And of course I don’t want to miss a moment of Sackhoff’s scenes. I’d also like to see how the stunt-casting of Isaiah Washington, who’ll be guesting on at least five episodes of “Bionic Woman,” plays out.

Katee Sackhoff as Sarah Corvus, Isaiah Washington as Antonio Pope.

Summaries of upcoming episodes from NBC's Web site can be found below.

From NBC's press Web site:

Episode 1: Pilot (Sept. 26)


When a devastating car accident leaves Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) at death's door, her only hope of survival is a cutting-edge, top-secret technology performed by her boyfriend, Dr. Will Anthros (Chris Bowers), and with her new bionics come a covert life that she is not sure she is ready to lead. Meanwhile, the first bionic woman Sarah Corvus (guest star Katee Sackhoff), has her own agenda as she tracks Jaime and Will down - which leads to a showdown between the two bionic woman. Also, Will’s father, Dr. Anthony Anthros (Mark Sheppard) escapes from a maximum security prison. Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee and Lucy Hale also stars.

Show Cast: Michelle Ryan, Lucy Hale, Chris Bowers, Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, Katee Sackhoff, Christina Jastrzembska, Thomas Kretchman, Mark Sheppard

Episode 2: Paradise Lost (Oct. 3)


After Jaime experiences another devastating loss, she encounters a stranger who befriends her. Later, she discovers the stranger is Antonio Pope (guest star Isaiah Washington), who works for the Berkut Group and the meeting was deliberate. As Jamie struggles to balance her secret new life while trying to maintain some normalcy at home with her sister, Becca (Lucy Kate Hale), Jaime finds herself in harms way on her first mission. Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, Mark Sheppard and Chris Bowers also star.

Episode 3: Sisterhood (Oct. 10)

GIRL FOR HIRE -- Jaime (Michelle Ryan) is tasked by the Berkut Group to watch the daughter of a Canadian defense contractor. At the same time, she must decide whether or not she is going to help Sarah Corvus (guest-star Katee Sackhoff), the first bionic woman, save herself. Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, Mark Sheppard, Chris Bowers and Lucy Kate Hale also star.

Episode 4: Girl for Hire (Oct. 17)

EXPIRATION DATES -- Jaime (Michelle Ryan), while on a mission to rescue an American doctor working in Paraguay, discovers the truth about her bionic lifespan. Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, Mark Sheppard, Chris Bowers and Lucy Kate Hale also star.

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