David Eick, who brought the reimagined and incredibly successful Battlestar Galactica to the SciFi network is bringing to SciFi’s corporate older sibling, NBC, another 1970s remake this fall, Bionic Woman. Airing on Wednesday nights at 9pm, Bionic Woman hopes to help rehabilitate NBC’s ailing lineup.
As with Battlestar, Eick and his team have only taken the most basic outline of the plot from the original series, creating an entirely new vision for the updated series. Gone are elements like the cheesy bionic sound effects and the lighter campy moments of the original Bionic Woman. In their place is a far darker, more serious show.
In this darker take on the idea, Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) is a 24-year-old bartender who takes care of her younger sister as she struggles with her own life. One of the few apparent bright spots in that life is Will Anthros (Chris Bowers), Jaime’s college professor boyfriend. Will has not been completely open and honest with Jaime as to who exactly he is however, as he works for a secret government organization doing bionic research.
Suffering a mysterious car accident with Will, Jaime is left hugely injured and in danger of death. Her boyfriend opts to, without her knowledge, perform surgery on her, giving her bionic implants that will allow her to live. While these moments in the show are rather predictable, they are necessary as well — after all, Jaime has to be grossly injured in order to get the bionic surgery, and without the surgery there is no show.
Jaime struggles greatly with the changes in her life and body, and is given an ultimatum by Will’s boss, Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer), about working for him and the U.S. government. Jaime, unwilling to suddenly turn her life over because of an operation she did not ask for, initially refuses. It is clear early on however, that while Jaime may be reluctant, she will end up working for the government eventually.
Where the show does get a little silly is with the addition of Sarah Corvis, played by Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Sarah is the first woman that the bionic surgery was performed on, and has since gone rogue. Corvis seems out to destroy the people that gave her the bionic abilities, and wants to help “educate” Sommers as to her newfound strengths. Sackhoff is the brightest spot in pilot in this role, which at this time is a recurring one, not a permanent one, but the storyline feels thin. It almost seems to reference a different television show entirely, Knight Rider, with its KITT vs. KARR dynamic. Like KARR, KITT’s predecessor, Corvis was thought dead only to reappear and seek revenge on those she believes wronged her.
Also lining up on the side of evil is Will’s father, Anthony Anthros (Mark Sheppard), who invented the bionic technology. Since his invention Anthros has been locked away in a special “supermax” underground prison in California for as-yet-unknown to the viewer, but probably some sort of attempted “take over the world” crimes.
The pilot does have all the makings of an interesting television show. While the dynamic at this time between Corvis and Sommers does feel like a retread, with time (should Sackhoff become a permanent fixture), it could be made into the most interesting aspect of the show. Michelle Ryan is good as a bewildered Jaime Sommers, and Miguel Ferrer is always good as the tough-as-nails-on-the-outside-but-really-not-a-bad-guy boss.
As of right now however, it seems as though much of the show's potential is unrealized. Will that change as the series progresses? Time will tell.