Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bionic, Revised

I caught up with the revised pilot for "The Bionic Woman," and I can't say it's too different than the original.

About 80-85 percent remained pretty much unchanged. The big difference was the recasting of Lucy Hale as the younger sister of Jamie Sommers (Michelle Ryan), replacing Mae Whitman, and that the character is no longer deaf.

It's actually a positive change for a couple of reasons. Hale looks a whole lot more like Ryan than Whitman does, and by giving the character spoken dialogue instead of sign language, there's much more interaction and chemistry between the two.

Other than that, the show is largely the same. The show has undergone significant changes behind the camera, with showrunner Glen Morgan ("The X-Files") departing and "Friday Night Lights" showrunner Jason Katims joining as a consultant. David Eick ("Battlestar Galactica") and Jason Smilovic ("Kidnapped") are still running things, but writer Laeta Kalogridis ("Birds of Prey"), who wrote the pilot, is no longer with the show.

It's been an interesting process to watch, because this is one of the biggest shows on NBC's schedule, but has undergone a lot of behind-the-scenes turmoil. I realize there is only so much of the pilot that can be re-done at this stage, so it will be interesting to see what new direction the show might take.

The pilot itself remains solid, as bartender Jamie Sommers is involved in a terrible car crash. To save her life, her scientist boyfriend subjects her to highly experimental bionics surgery that leaves Jamie with enhanced strength, speed, and other abilities.

But Jamie isn't the first bionic woman. A previous experiment, Sarah (Katee Sackhoff) has similar gifts and is decidedly unhappy with the group that experimented on her.

"Bionic" is a big piece of NBC's fantasy-oriented lineup with shows like "Heroes" and "Journeyman," and it has some potential, so the pilot is worth checking out.

EMMY POLL: Don't forget to vote, lest the "Grey's Anatomy" fans have their way. Click on the box in the top left corner of the screen and vote for who you want to win the Emmys this Sunday. Final poll results will run with the winners on Monday.

BIGGEST LOSER: The show kicked off last night with a two-hour launch, and you can post your thoughts about the show on the official blog at

SEX DOESN'T SELL: Less than a million people tuned in for the debut of "Tell Me You Love Me," the HBO series noted for its very frank portrayal of sex and relationships. Those numbers are even worse than the premiere of the since-cancelled "John From Cincinnati."

But some cable shows are doing far better. "The Closer" set a record for original cable series with its season finale Monday night, drawing some 9.2 million viewers.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Speaking of season finales, "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) has been on such a roll for the past month that it's a real shame that tonight is the final first-run show of the season.

For a change of pace, "American Masters" (PBS, 9 p.m.) has a 90-minute special featuring the incomparable Tony Bennett.


zodin2008 said...

You were being too nice, but you forgot to add that Mae Whitman is also a really annoying little actress. her being gone period is an upgrade to this show.

The behind the scenes turmoil is tough, and "Bionic" has a tough, tough time slot going against the "Grey's" spinoff and the unwatchable but inexplicably popular, "Criminal Minds". "Bionic" is likely the 3rd place show, but how strong a 3rd is whether the show gets to stick around, and how good episode #2 will be after the pilot airs.

I am pulling for it - and to be honest, I generally "root" for NBC anyway, because I have really watched so many more NBC shows throughout my life - their brand has always fit me the best.

Plus, NBC keeps making great shows that nobody watches and more often than not, supports them (i.e. Scrubs, The Office, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, etc.).

I am hopeful that the Mandy Pantinkin departure on "Minds" and the fact that the "Grey's" spinoff was so poorly received in may, are chinks in their armor and give "Bionic" hope. But really, sci fi is always an uphill fight. I wouldn't be surprised to see "Heroes" lose audience this year. Look at "Lost".

It doesn't even matter that "Lost" is easily one of the 3 best shows on Television - they have continually lost ratings because of the stupid, ADD, reality-loving American audience. The greatest Television show of all time was "Buffy" and it was also one of the lowest rated.

Bottom line - the shows American should be watching, they aren't watching. They instead opt for overrated soapy dreck ("Grey's"), boring procedurals ("CSI" or "Minds") or worse, Reality garbage like "American Idol", "Survivor" or "Dancing with the Stars", the most inexplicable phenomenon in the history of Television.

Watch, I am sure this piece of filth, "Kid Nation" will be a top 10 hit for CBS. GROAN.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, I try not to rip teenaged actors too much, hence the Vanessa Hudgens posting yesterday.

Jonathan said...

It's funny that you mention "Heroes" will probably lose viewers, Zod, because it lost a good 2-3 million after it came off hiatus, and yet nary a mention of that was made. But "Heroes" is such a bonafide across the board hit (Internet sites, downloading, comic books, convention circuit, etc.). Still, I've always felt this is not the hit that NBC wants to make it out to be, but who cares? It's an overall good show, but this isn't quite the same as when ABC's ratings went nuts the year "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," and "Grey's Anatomy" premiered.

I was also curious, Phil, if you've followed the story at all about NBC pulling their contract from itunes. This is interesting to me because I think shows like "The Office" and even "Heroes" have been given so much leeway at the network due to people downloading these shows so much. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Haven't seen "Bionic Woman" yet, is it available on the website? I did get a chance to catch the pilots for "Life," "Journeyman," and "Chuck." I thought "Journeyman" was the most interesting and has the most potential. "Chuck" was a hell of a lot of fun; I just hated that his first assignment (of sorts) was to diffuse a bomb. I didn't find that very original, but how he diffused it was pretty clever. "Life" didn't really work for me. I think the lead character is either going to annoy the hell out of you or be the most genuine find of the season for you. He pretty much annoyed me; due to the acting, I wasn't sure if he was also supposed to be mentally challenged. But maybe it will grow on me if I decide to give it a shot.

zodin2008 said...


Your assessment of Damien Lewis' acting, the star of NBC's "Life", was COMPLETELY dead on.

I have been wary of criticizing Lewis, because he was so fantastic as the star of "Band of Brothers". I WANTED to like him & his character - I also assumed I would.

My assumption prior to watching the pilot of "Life" was that this would be a sympathetic, quiet but strong character. All of a sudden, I watched this show and this guy is incridbly annoying & brash, with all these stupid ticks, plus a weird personality & voice to boot.

While I am intrigued enough by the series to watch maybe a 2nd episode, I don't see myself sticking with this or seeing America pay attention. I think the show will probably get hammered by by CBS and ABC - CBS has their built in hit (and also inexplicably popular), "CSI: NY" while ABC is likely to get a carryover from "Private Practice" for "Dirty Sexy Money".

As for "Heroes", I think NBC will over promote any good ratings news it can get just to stay upright. They are continually getting beated head to head by the likes of ABC, Fox and CBS (in majority of battles), even though, in my honest opinion, NBC by far has the best quality stable of shows.

In fact, in my opinion, it's not even close. Plus, the majority of the shows that are actually popular on CBS & ABC I actually feel are downright bad, not just 'not interesting' to me. Look at "Desperate Housewives" - one of the worst shows on Television, period, yet still gets big numbers. Makes no sense.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, I watched the revised pilot for "Life" with my parents to see other people's reactions, and they enjoyed it a lot. I don't judge any show by what it's going against, but by the show itself. There's enough about Life that I enjoyed, and I think Lewis is a brilliant actor.

As for the iTunes, it's going to be interesting how it plays out. Apple won't give in to NBC, because then it would have to increase the price on everything. And NBC is going to lose a lot of viewers without the iTunes option.

This is why a few months ago I railed against networks relying so much on alternative formats. NBC doesn't want to make shows like Heroes free on, because if it works out another download deal down the line, people will resent having to pay for it again.

I've never understood the appeal of downloading a show on iTunes, having to pay for it and watch it on a tiny screen. There are enough shows that are repeated where I'll just catch a missed episode at another time.

zodin2008 said...

WELL, Phillip, I'm with Jonthan and the majority of how I suspect America to react to Damian Lewis' bizarre and mercurial performance - that's assume people even tune in, which I suspect they won't.

The show looks D.O.A.

It maybe the best of the 3 shows at 10 PM Wednesdays, but that aint saying much.