Well, it didn’t take Bionic Woman long to bust out the British accent, did it? Only took five episodes for them to finally let Michelle Ryan talk in her native accent. Pretty convenient that the Berkut Group gave her an undercover assignment where she was a transfer from Oxford, right? I think asking Jaime beforehand if she could pull off the accent would have been a more efficient plan, just in case she, you know, couldn’t do it. The Berkut Group totally needs a new project manager.
So off to college goes Jaime, after a series of neural transmitters were discovered inside POWs’ brains that caused them to open fire upon their own squads, all Manchurian Candidate style. And if you followed any of the neural transmitter stuff tonight, you’re much, much smarter than me. Personally, I didn’t need to know that much about the brain. I care more about things like "character" and "continuity." Call me crazy that way.
The Berkut Group sends Jaime to Stanwick University, since a professor there is the lead suspect in the manufacturing of the brain chips, so off to school, as British as the day she was born, goes Jaime. Naturally, OMG, she meets a totally hot TA, like, for real! This immediately after a scene in which Jaime defiantly declared to her friends that she did not need a man in her life to make her happy. I hope next week she defiantly declares that she does not need radioactive meerkats in her life to make her happy. I mean, I’d watch a show in which the Bionic Woman battles an army of radioactive meerkats. That would be infinitely better that watching her take five minutes to take down an anonymous bad guy. (Hey, Jaime Sommers? You’re bionic. Any fight in which you engage with a non-bionic foe that lasts longer than ten seconds means you’re not doing it right..)
After all, the show’s all but given up on treating itself seriously, right? I’ve long abandoned the notion that this show would match the grit and gravitas of Battlestar Galactica, but it barely matches the grit and gravitas of Gossip Girl at times. It’s a show about a girl looking for happiness that just so happens to have $50 million attached to her body. It’s Felicity (a show name-dropped in tonight’s episode) meets The Terminator, only Felicity is kicking the holy hell out of the T-800. And if you’re into that type of show, I’m sure it’s fine and dandy to tune into this show week after week.
But the show occasionally hints at more, and that’s what makes the fluff so maddening. Look at the cold, calculating way that POW takes out an entire sick bay of fellow soldiers. Look at how horrifying the computerized control of the lab patient is. Look at the intensity of Antonio’s interrogation scene with the potential buyer of the neural chips. All Grade A excellent stuff. Me personally? THIS is the show I wanted to watch. Now here’s the weird part: none of these things directly involved the titular hero of the show. Watching that patient controlled like a puppet should have set Jaime off into a complete rage, one that would have extended all the way to the Berkut Group, and yet her protests to the lab tech (and ultimate villain of the episode) left a lot to be desired.
It’s these missed opportunities that make Bionic Woman so frustrating. I want to love, not merely like, this show. It gives me no pleasure to tell you I didn’t enjoy it. My hours are precious and few in this world, and I don’t want to waste them watching bad television. And there’s still a chance for this show to be fantastic, which is why I’m so hard on it. Let’s use the analogy of a college student here, given this week’s content. If I thought Bionic Woman was just simply a C student, I’d just let it coast and pray it would grow up to invent hovercrafts by accident after a weekend bender. But Bionic Woman is a C student because it’s trying to study neurobiology when it should be studying English. It doesn’t know its strengths from its weaknesses, and until it does, it will always be frustratingly out of reach of greatness.
What did you make of Jaime’s "Never Been Bionic" romp back to college? Tonally, how do you most enjoy the show? Did you miss Sarah Corvis? Should they just change the show’s name to "British Bionic Woman" and be done with it?
For more TV reviews and analysis, check out Ryan at Boob Tube Dude.