The Bionic Woman (spoilers)

I have to confess that I'm not a big fan of one-hour television dramas (outside of HBO titles). I have very little patience for most of the shows and this has led me to miss some diamonds in the rough. I've been told "West Wing" was terrific - I never saw it. I've been advised to check out "Law and Order" and I have on occasion, finding it to be a fine show but it hasn't kept my interest. I have tuned in for 24 and Lost but both of those shows have timelines much more like a mini-series - not to mention that Lost's locations are eye candy and 24's pacing is beyond ADHD. I admit, however, when both of those shows are over, I can't remember a damn thing about them. For me they truly are mindless entertainment. At least I am entertained.

Last night I decided to try out a new series to see if I'm just missing the boat. I sat down and watched the new "Bionic Woman". Now, I should have been excited by this as I've always felt that the orginal 'Bionic Man' pilot could be made into a stellar feature film (seemingly condtradicting my previous posts -- it's called Musings and Contradictions bub). The Steve Austin story strikes me as a plausible super hero story that is ripe for a lot of thematic exploration. I've even written a feature script that deals with similar issues - the seperation of mind and body. It's a fascinating topic for me and raises all sorts of ideological questions.

Given the opportunity to make something dynamic, exciting and interesting, the 'Bionic Woman' pilot was poor. I suspected this would be the case when I saw the trailer that seemed more like a take on the 'Matrix' than the 'Bionic Woman'. Somehow bionics allows one to defy physics? For me, the strength of the bionic story is in its plausibility. This isn't to say that this technology will ever come to fruition but it sure feels like it could. It's in this plausibility that you can really make your audience believe their seeing something real instead of watching a comic book. This, in turn, brings the audience closer to the material.

The pilot did have some good ideas in it but the execution of the ideas was flawed and there was too much emphasis on the cyber punk stylistics and creepy atmospherics. The story execution needed a lot of work. They introduce the sister in the episode but fail to create a story for her thus taking up time for no apparent reason (I'm sure they will do something with it in subsequent episodes but it was lazy not to do something with it in the pilot). Also, they introduce you to the 'evil' bionic woman right off the top of the show. Had they saved the actual introduction to the end of the show it would have improved it greatly. Instead of the audience being aware of the 'evil' bionic woman, they would have been asking themselves - "who this strange and creepy blond woman?". Then, during the fight climax, when she reveals herself as the first bionic woman, she would be doing it for Jamie and us. Then we would want to know more. It's a simple story restructure and suddenly we, like Jamie, have a mystery we need to figure out.

The character motivation is extremely odd as well. When Jamie discovers that they have 'put her back together', she freaks out and is hostile to everyone who just saved her life. Her relationship with the doctor (who she's apparently in love with) shows no sign of affection or care. He might as well have been a stranger at this point. These reactions seem more of an 'idea' imposed by the filmmakers than a well thought out character.

The matrix-style fight at the end was cliche. Her superior fighting skills are explained by computer chips implanted in her brain!?! I would have been happier seeing her learn to walk again then watch her get an ass whupp'n from the evil bionic woman so she would want to learn how to protect herself and use her bionics.

"It's just television Mark, relax", you say.

I know. I just figure if you're going to all the trouble of doing it and spending all that money, you might as well make it great.


Carl Gundel said...

I agree with your criticisms. The show is moving too fast, and it isn't leaving us with many mysteries to ponder. The only thing we don't know is who the man is who was stitching up his own arm? Is he bionic too?

Mark said...

It can also be a symptom of the 'pilot'. Sometimes to get the show off the ground you might pack everything you can into the first episode to try to get the green light on the remainder. I don't know how they put their deal together but you never know (although they would have a show bible outlining the full season storylines).