First Impressions

Bionic Woman / Journeyman

Aired on: NBC

Reviewed by Ismael Manzano


            Well, it’s Fall again and as the change of Earth’s distance to the sun heralds a change in weather, so does the need for higher ratings herald a change in network programming.  This inevitably leads to new shows and a new lineup, which in turn leads to critiques of these new shows, which is where I come in.  I come to you today with reviews of two new network shows, Bionic Woman and Journeyman in G-POP’s now multi-writer series called First Impressions.

            We’ll start with the one I saw first, Bionic Woman, NBC’s new Wednesday sci-fi/drama/remake of the popular 1970’s sci-fi series of the same name.  As any of you over the age of twenty-five will undoubtedly remember—due to its syndication—the original Bionic Woman followed Jamie Sommers, a school teacher who, after a debilitating accident, was left with a third of her body replaced by machine parts.  She carried on her teaching duties during the day and worked for the government in her spare time—an arrangement made possible by her ‘friend’ and fellow cyborg Lee Majors who already worked for the government.  That was the 70’s version of Bionic Woman.

            The new millennia’s version of Bionic Woman features a surface similar premise: young woman, boyfriend involved in government, near fatal accident, replacement parts, and pulling double duty to satisfy both her former life and her new cybernetic one.  It’s amazing how the same plot can be told in a completely different way.  To start off with, Jamie Sommers (Michelle Ryan, Jekyll) is not a kindly school teacher, but a college dropout turned bartender who was saddled with a younger sister—Becca (Lucy Hale, How I Met Your Mother)—when their father abandoned her.  Her boyfriend, Will (Chris Bowers, Rescue Me), is a scientist whose father designed the cybernetic technology, not a cyborg himself.  While she still has the standard cybernetic two legs, one arm, one eye and one ear, Jamie was equipped with a type of nanotechnology that enables her to heal at a rapid rate.  The government agency—if it is indeed a legitimate agency—is a ruthless organization that would rather terminate Ms. Sommers than leave her with 60 million dollars worth of their technology inside of her.  To top it off, Jamie is not the only Bionic Woman.  Sharing her privilege is Sarah Corvis (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica), whom the agency assumed was dead—because they’d put more than one bullet through her three years earlier—and who is bent on a very bloody revenge. 

            That’s the premise in a nutshell, so let’s get to the review.  Good points:  Even though I knew it was coming, the ‘accident’ that caused her to be crippled to the point of needing robotic enhancements was BRUTAL!  Well done.  Katee—who I would like to see play something other than military, psycho or military psycho—did a great job.  The fighting scenes were amazing, and it was nice to see a cybernetic woman do something other than move slowly to a weird sound effect and stop a car by lifting its rear tires off of the ground—the ending of about 60% of the original Bionic Woman episodes.  Most of the CGI was pretty good too, from the nanotechnology to the ocular implant. 

            Now for the bad parts:  The CGI used to make her run was horrible; I actually preferred the original slow motion run of the first series. The boyfriend breaks her out in a bid to keep her alive and out of military hands, right?  Well, it seemed very unbelievable that this agency could create this innovated technology without having a contingency to neutralize it besides asking her to play ball.  There’s no way they would have let her loose under any circumstances.  They were able to put martial arts information in her head to be used instinctively, but they didn’t think to put a killswitch or a mind control implant to bring her under control—especially after Sarah proved unstable three years earlier?  Also, the first episode felt a little rushed through and might have benefited from another half and hour or hour for the pilot to take its due course.  Even when Jamie’s boyfriend appears to have been shot dead, she doesn’t seem entirely concerned with that nor does she show much emotion about his wellbeing afterwards. 

            Anyway, all in all, it was a pretty good sci-fi show, with some kinks that need to be worked out, but I enjoyed it enough to keep watching it and see if it gets better.  It is, after all, an updated version of an old favorite.   

            Lets move on to another NBC sci-fi  show, Tuesday night’s  JourneymanJourneyman follows Dan Vassar (Kevin McKidd, Rome) a reporter with a beautiful wife, Katie (Gretchen Egolf, Roswell), and son, and a bright future ahead of him.  That is, until he mysteriously begins traveling through time.  At first, he thinks these excursions through time are nothing more than dreams, but he soon learns that everything he’s experiencing is definitely real.  And every time he travels through time, he comes back to the present hours or days later. 

            During one such trip he saves a stranger named Neal Gaines, and after that, every journey takes him to different points in Gaines’ life.  When it becomes apparent that the man who he saved is more than a troubled soul in need of guidance, Dan must correct the mistake that he made to save the lives of others. 

            Things get dicey when, during one of his travels, he runs into his ex-girlfriend, Livia (Moon Bloodgood, Daybreak and Pathfinder), believed dead, and discovers that she too has been traveling through time.  Meanwhile, his wife, family and friends think his time-traveling stories are the result of a hidden drug addiction and are demanding that he seek help.  This leaves Dan on the verge of a divorce with an extraordinary and uncontrollable new ability to contend with.  Can he hold on to that which he holds dear while he struggles to reign in this confounding new ability?

Overall, I liked this show.  To be honest I was kind of on the fence about this show until the very end, and then I loved it.  The writers show imagination and ingenuity with that ending and I liked it.  The plot is very reminiscent of Quantum Leap save the technology and humorous talking hologram, but it built up enough suspense for me in the first episode to keep me coming back for more and it promises to be a real mystery ride.  A note of critique: I felt the Journeyman pilot, like that of Bionic Woman, was a bit rushed and could have stood to have a little extra time to unravel the story, but for the most part, it was just plain entertaining.  I’d recommend it and hope that you will watch it too. 


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