Monday , April 22 2024
Two months into the new television season, shows are, for better or worse, finding their grooves.

Bionic Woman, Pushing Daisies, and Kitchen Nightmares Go Formulaic

I wonder if Bionic Woman will actually stick to the formula it's used for the last three episodes. Certainly, the show has managed to maintain, finally, a relatively consistent tone in its recent episodes, but the ratings aren't very good and I don't think the formulaic approach the producers are currently using will lead to better numbers.

For three weeks now we've had geek boy, Nathan, feed info to Jaime and company, be funny, and disappear. Tom, Jaime's CIA boyfriend, appears and then alternately helps her, keeps information from her, and bats his eyelashes at her. Jonas acts all high and mighty, he is impressed with Jaime's results but not necessarily the way she goes about her job. The show has also thrown in more nods to the old series, especially in terms of the depiction of bionic abilities. When Jaime starts running bionic-style, the show briefly flips to slow motion, like its namesake did, before going hyper-fast.

This new-found consistency has virtually eliminated the original plot of the show. Gone is Sarah Corvus, gone is Anthony Anthros, gone are some of the best moments, plots, and ideas of the series. While that could be a problem, the weakest moments of the show have also disappeared. It's as though the show has gone from wildly vacillating between "A" and "F" material to deciding to stick with solid "C+" material. I don't know which I prefer.

Of course, I must say that I was quite pleased that the show gave a nod to James Bond last night. When Antonio suggested that dating was not compatible with her job, Jaime asked if that was the reason Bond never had the same girlfriend. Bond did in fact get married in one of the movies, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but his wife was promptly murdered. Jaime and Antonio's analysis is a good interpretation of Bond's actions (but, it should be noted, not new).

Always new and different though is Pushing Daisies. What a quirky, fun, wonderful show that is. Like the current incarnation of Bionic Woman, Pushing Daisies has a consistent formula that it follows on a weekly basis: someone dies; Ned, Chuck, Olive, and Emerson figure out who done it; and along the way Ned and Chuck discover new difficulties in the non-physicalness of their relationship. The show works so well because within the established formula the show has lots of room. Every character is hyper-quirky, and everything that happens is hyper-whimsical. It is a fairytale take on the world in which we live and a joy to watch on a weekly basis.

One last bit of formula for today, Kitchen Nightmares. Week after week this show does the same episode over and over and over again, it's just at different restaurants. Every week there is a villain (the owner, manager, and/or chef), every week the villain disagrees with Gordon Ramsay until about 40 or 45 minutes in, and then they finally accept what he says as gospel. The restaurant (almost always) is fixed and becomes a huge success. I like it, but I would also like to see one episode where the restaurant is just a failure due to bad circumstances, not due to a villain. I want to see a place where everyone tries hard, is a good person, and the place has just fallen on hard times.

Ah, to dream the impossible dream.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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