NBC resurrects the classic superhero show for a new generation...
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Saturday morning at Comic-Con brought a panel that enjoyed a fair amount of controversy. NBC is "re-imagining" the classic sci-fi TV show Bionic Woman, making it a modern show with modern technology and dramatic issues. Despite some early promotion few fans had seen much of this unknown quantity. That is, until the panel.
When the panel began, the moderator announced that we the audience were in for a treat. We would be watching the entire pilot episode to the series, before a Q and A with cast and crew! Immediately the lights dimmed andthe show began.
Bionic Woman is a very modern show about a young woman who is rebuilt with bionic components after a horrific accident. There is a secret organization testing these implants for military purposes, and the young lady's boyfriend happens to be their lead doctor. When she is injured he brings here there and furnishes her with new parts. Then it's up to her to learn how to use them and how to keep her life on track, despite external influences from her boyfriend/doctor, the secret organization, and a cabal of evil forces.
The basic premise is very similar to that of the '70s show by the same name. The girl's name is again Jamie Sommers, and her major implants are the same as Lindsay Wagner's. But while the original show had a light-hearted, almost campy feel, this show is gritty, violent, and bloody. The opening scene is drenched in blood, and periodic vicious violence peppers the pilot. In this way the show is very similar to the new Battlestar Galactica and its "re-imagining." This should come as a surprise to no one, as both shows share writer/producer David Eick.
Michelle Ryan was good as Jamie Sommers, and has definite promise as the Bionic Woman. Supporting characters ranged from intriguing to annoying. Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica) really seemed to embrace her guest starring role in this show where she is, let's say, less than heroic.
While the pilot does have some interesting ideas, it was far from perfect. The effects were inconsistent, some being far from seamless. There were some odd editing and mood moments, the worst coming when a character makesa joke about his own wife (getting laughter from the crowd), then immediately talking about how she died horribly. Weird. The sheer gloom of the show may alienate mainstream viewers.
However, as we learned later in the Q and A, the first episode that will air on television will not be the same as this pilot. Already one secondary character has been recast and her scenes re-filmed. This is definitely a good thing. Hopefully they will also address some of theother problems, and the Bionic Woman series will start off with a bang.
After the pilot, the panel began. On hand to answer questions were David Eick (writer/producer), Jason Smilovic (writer/producer), Glen Morgan(producer), Michelle Ryan (Jamie Sommers), and Katee Sackhoff (Sarah Corvus).
-Why? Eick began by saying that NBC Universal is working on a Six Million Dollar Man film, so they went the TV route with the Bionic Woman. When they were coming up with the concept, they considered various themes: an "empowered" female hero, an anti-hero? In the end, they decided on a contemporary young woman dealing with real life things like her personal life and job. That way when she becomes a "hero" there are differentfacets to her life and sides of herself she must work to balance. Smilovic added that the show is all about self-discovery, with Jamie "learning who she is as a woman and as a hero." She must work hard to keep her humanity.
-Tell us about your characters. Ryan told the audience how excited she is to be a part of this show. She's enamored with the story about a heroine who's fiesty, strong, and most of all young. The self-discovery aspect appealed to her, as did the mix of action, sci-fi, and drama genres. Sackhoff, on the other hand, said that she's "having more fun as a villain." Her character Sarah "just loves being evil."
-Will this pilot be aired? Will there be differences? Morgan made the announcement that Jamie's sister will be replaced and her scenes re-filmed for the TV pilot to air on September 26th.
-What's the same from the old show? Will there be cameos or re-used stories? Eick said that he wanted to differentiate the new show with its updated themes and mood, but since they had the rights to the names, whynot? Tidbits like that add to the show for fans of the original. Smilovic said they're staying away from the campy plots of the original, and there will be no Sasquatch. As far as Lindsay Wagner having a cameo, the creators of this show are not opposed to that.
As a final thought Eick reiterated the main storyline of the show: it's about a "woman thrust into an operative/hero role. We don't know what she can do or will do. She's still learning and we go on that journey withher."
Fans of sci-fi and hero or secret agent shows will want to check out Bionic Woman when it premieres in September. Hopefully by then the pilot will be streamlined and tightened up, and lead to an interesting newseries. Check it out on NBC.