Bionic Woman (2007 TV series)

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Bionic Woman
Bionic Woman (2007 TV series).png
Bionic Woman's intertitle
Format Drama
Action-adventure
Science fiction
Created by David Eick
Written by Laeta Kalogridis
Treena Hancock
Starring Michelle Ryan
Miguel Ferrer
Molly Price
Lucy Kate Hale
Will Yun Lee
Chris Bowers
Mark Sheppard
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) David Eick
Laeta Kalogridis
Jason Smilovic
Location(s) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) GEP Productions
David Eick Productions
Universal Media Studios
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run September 26 – November 28, 2007 (2007-11-28)
Chronology
Related shows The Bionic Woman
The Six Million Dollar Man

Bionic Woman is an American science fiction television drama that aired in 2007, which was created by David Eick, under NBC Universal Television Group, GEP Productions, and David Eick Productions. The series was a re-imagining of the original television series, The Bionic Woman, created by Kenneth Johnson, which in turn was based upon the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin and its TV adaptation The Six Million Dollar Man, retaining its forebears' premise while taking on a more contemporary setting.[1] David Eick also serves as executive producer alongside Laeta Kalogridis and Jason Smilovic. Production of the series was halted due to a strike by the Writers Guild of America causing only eight episodes to be aired. Following its failure to be included in the Fall 2008 schedule it was announced that the series was canceled as the result of low ratings.

The series revolved around bartender Jaime Sommers, who is saved from death after receiving experimental medical implants. While adjusting to her new bionic powers and raising a rebellious younger sister, Jaime agrees to work for the Berkut Group, a quasi-governmental private organization that performed her surgery.

Plot[edit]

Bartender Jaime Sommers struggles to make ends meet in San Francisco, California while serving as a surrogate mom to her teenage sister. Nearly killed in a car accident, Jaime is saved by a cutting-edge operation – performed by her boyfriend, Will Anthros – that leaves her with advanced bionic prosthetics and implants. With extraordinary new strength, speed, and other artificially enhanced abilities, Jaime begins working for the Berkut Group, the organization responsible for her operation. In her new life Jaime must learn how to use her new abilities while working to understand the role that she has been thrust into.

Jaime's modifications include: bionic legs, a bionic right arm, a bionic right ear, a bionic eye,[2] and nanomachines called anthrocytes which are capable of healing her body at a highly accelerated rate.[3]

Production[edit]

The first mention of a revision of the Bionic Woman series occurred in August 2002 when a story in The Hollywood Reporter indicated that the series would be produced by Team Todd: sisters Jennifer Todd and Suzanne Todd. The story quoted Suzanne Todd as saying:

We are going to take advantage of the fact that what seemed beyond the realm of reality back when they did the original show – some of the things in terms of advancement in prosthetics and in replacement limbs – are real in true life now. I think the idea that [prosthetics] exist in the world today and people make use of them – not in a superhero way the way that Jaime does – is going to allow us to do something really interesting and very different than the old show.[4]

It was later reported that the USA Network was considering airing the series, with Jennifer Aniston being in consideration for the lead role.[5][6] In October 2006, NBC Universal announced that it was bringing the project back with new producers, and reportedly a radical reworking of the original concept. The series would be written by Laeta Kalogridis (creator of the WB series Birds of Prey) and produced by David Eick. Eick commented on the new series saying, "It's a complete re-conceptualization of the title. We're using the title as a starting point, and that's all. It's going to be a meaningful departure [from the original]."[7] In January 2007, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the series one-hour pilot was given an official greenlight by NBC.[8] On May 10, 2007, NBC announced that they had given an early pick-up to Bionic Woman for their fall 2007 schedule.[9]

Since the rights to the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin were held by other parties, the new series excluded any overt elements from it (although it did not prevent the writers from giving Jaime elements of bionics from the original novel, such as a bionic eye). This was the same for the character Steve Austin from the Six Million Dollar Man, of which the original The Bionic Woman was a spin-off.[10] Neither Kenneth Johnson nor Martin Caidin received screen credit on the new series, where they did in the original Bionic Woman. Johnson has confirmed on his website that he had no involvement with the new Bionic Woman series.[11] Lindsay Wagner, the original Bionic Woman, also played no part in the new series. Wagner said, "On a technical level, it was very good, but I don't think they understood the show. It was steeped in that old-school thinking. It was like a lot of things today, angry and dark."[12]

WGA strike[edit]

Due to a strike by the Writers Guild of America, production of the series was halted in mid-November 2007,[13] and the regular actors were suspended on half-pay for a period of five weeks.[14] The series has since aired all of the episodes that were completed before production halted.[15] Several websites ran with rumors that NBC had canceled the series, but an NBC Universal Media Studios spokesperson told the press that the show had not been canceled and that production of the first season would continue when the WGA strike ended.[16] Upon the resolution of the strike, an Associated Press story classified Bionic Woman as being "on the bubble", and predicted that the remaining episodes would not air until the fall of 2008, "if ever".[17] NBC later published a report regarding initial series renewals, and no announcement was made regarding whether Bionic Woman would return in the fall. The report also indicated that despite the earlier statement by NBC Universal, production of the series' first season was considered to be concluded.[18]

Cast[edit]

Main characters[edit]

  • Michelle Ryan as Jaime Sommers – a bartender who is involved in a near fatal car accident and becomes the Bionic Woman.
  • Miguel Ferrer as Jonas Bledsoe – a member of the Berkut Group who is responsible for Jaime and assigns her missions; the Oscar Goldman analog of the series.
  • Molly Price as Ruth Treadwell – Bledsoe's second in command.
  • Will Yun Lee as Jae Kim – a specialized operations leader with the Berkut Group, and was romantically involved with Sarah Corvus.
  • Lucy Hale as Becca Sommers – Jaime's teen-aged sister. In the unbroadcast pilot episode, the character was hearing impaired and was played by Mae Whitman, but the character was retooled and all scenes with the original actor were re-shot with the hearing impairment angle eliminated. Becca has no analog in the original series.
  • Chris Bowers as Will Anthros – Jaime's boyfriend; he performs the operation that gives her the bionic implants, but is shot and killed by Sarah Corvus soon after. He is the analog of the original series' Dr. Rudy Wells, as well as Dr. Michael Marchetti who was a love interest for the original Jaime during her initial appearances on The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Mark Sheppard as Anthony Anthros – the father of Will Anthros and one of the original developers of the bionic implants. He escapes prison at the end of the first episode.

Recurring characters[edit]

  • Katee Sackhoff as Sarah Corvus – the "first Bionic woman" and a nemesis of Jaime. Corvus' bionics are malfunctioning; she believes that Jaime's newer bionics may be the key to repairing hers. Jaime has mixed feelings about Corvus. The cancellation of the series left this character arc unresolved. The original series has no equivalent character, however The Six Million Dollar Man did feature Barney Hiller, a bionic-powered adversary similar to Corvus.
  • Isaiah Washington as Antonio Pope – an advisor in the Bionics program described as an "outsider with a mysterious agenda" with the power to either help Jamie or bring her down.[19][20] Pope is shot and killed by a former colleague at the end of the seventh episode. He is a rough analog of Chris Williams, Jaime's OSI mission partner, from the final season of the original series.
  • Kevin Rankin as Nathan – one of the Bionic team members. He works as a technician and routinely monitors Jamie during her missions.
  • Jordan Bridges as Tom – a member of the CIA and Jaime's new boyfriend.

Casting[edit]

The pilot starred Michelle Ryan, Miguel Ferrer, Molly Price, Will Yun Lee, and Mae Whitman. In June 2007, TV Guide reported that Mae Whitman was being replaced in the role of Jaime's sister. An NBC spokesperson confirmed this, stating, "The decision was purely creatively driven. It is very common to change storylines, characters, actors after the initial pilot is shot." The character, who was originally deaf, had her hearing restored when requested by an NBC executive.[citation needed] Lucy Hale was later cast as Whitman's replacement in July 2007.[21][22] In announcing the recasting, it was confirmed that the deaf trait of the character had been dropped.[23] Instead, Hale's version of the character is depicted as a rebellious teen and budding computer hacker.

As Ryan is from England and naturally speaks with received pronunciation, she affects an American accent for her role as Sommers.[24] One notable exception to this occurs in the episode "The Education of Jaime Sommers", when Jaime assumes the guise of a British exchange student, allowing Ryan to use a variation of her natural accent.

Katee Sackhoff was cast as Sarah Corvus, the first Bionic Woman, and her character subsequently appeared in four episodes of the series, in addition to the series pilot. Sackhoff has compared the role to that of Number Six, a character in Sackhoff's concurrent series, Battlestar Galactica.[25][26] Sackhoff is joined by fellow Galactica co-stars Aaron Douglas as a prison guard appearing only in the series first episode, and Mark Sheppard as Will Anthros' father Anthony Anthros. Isaiah Washington appeared in at five episodes of the series, making his first appearance in "Paradise Lost", the first post-pilot episode.[19]

Bruce McGill was cast to play an as-yet-unnamed character who is a high ranking operative in the Bionics program.[27] McGill's character had not yet appeared on the series by the time the WGA strike halted production.

Crew[edit]

David Eick, Laeta Kalogridis, Jason Smilovic and Michael Dinner originally served as executive producers and writers. Dinner also directed the pilot but exited his post as executive producer in June 2007.[21] Glen Morgan, writer and producer on The X-Files, Space: Above and Beyond, and Millennium, joined the production team of Bionic Woman as an executive producer in May, only to leave four months later,[21][28] citing creative differences.[29] In September, Friday Night Lights executive producer Jason Katims joined the show as a consultant.[29] Katims ran the writer's room until late October, when Sopranos veteran Jason Cahill was hired as the new showrunner.[30]

Broadcast history[edit]

Bionic Woman premiered in the United States on the NBC network on September 26, 2007, airing on Wednesday nights at 9:00/8:00c. It attained NBC's highest midweek premiere ratings since the 1999 premiere of The West Wing, and was the second most watched program in its timeslot after ABC's Grey's Anatomy spin off Private Practice.[31] In addition to NBC, the series is broadcast on Sci Fi in Australia, E! in Canada, and in 2008 on ITV2 in the United Kingdom.[32][33][34]

Due to the strike by the Writers Guild of America, production of the series was put on hiatus.[13][35] Several media outlets reported that Bionic Woman had been canceled, although there was no official confirmation from NBC.[36] An announcement of series renewals by NBC did not indicate the fate of Bionic Woman, although it was reported that production of the season was considered concluded.[18]

The SyFy Portal, citing a TV Guide column, suggested that the series cast and crew have been told that production has ended, although NBC has made no official announcement as to the series' fate as of that date and the blog author stressed that the news was only a rumor.[37] David Eick, the series' co-executive producer, confirmed on March 19, 2008 that the series had been canceled, although the network has still not officially announced it.[38] The series was subsequently not included in the Fall 2008 schedule announced by NBC in early April 2008.[39] As of September 2009 NBC still had a Bionic Woman website running, though elements were disabled. The NBC Message Boards have discontinued the Bionic Woman forum.

Reception and ratings[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The series met with a largely negative reception. Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times wished that the episodes following the pilot were just as good as the pilot itself, and wanted Katee Sackhoff to play the lead role.[40] Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times felt that Bionic Woman was more about "fembot martial arts and slick Matrix-ish special effects" oriented toward young male viewers "[rather] than about character development".[41]

Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle felt that the remake was "a lot darker than the campy original",[42] but said that "trouble lies in the casting and the concept". Goodman thought that "Ryan seems too inert, not nearly aggressive enough for the role", and that even Sackhoff was "infinitely more likable as an antiheroine". He said that they either "got the wrong bionic woman", or "they need to let the bad bionic woman get a whole lot more screen time".[43]

Michael Idato of The Age said that since the series had gone "through a series of writers and producers", it was "no surprise that what finally lands is a little messy". However he said that "despite some early uncertainty, Ryan becomes a likable Sommers, leaving only the show's dark tone and relentless pace as potential problems." He said that they were great for setting up the story, "but could become too much as the season progresses".[44] Not all reviews were as optimistic; Michael Hinman of SyFy Portal referred to the show as "a disaster".[37]

Australia ratings[edit]

The first episode rated 1.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched program of the night. Ratings began to dive with the third episode rating 1.2 million viewers. The fifth episode only rated one million viewers. Viewer numbers soon fell below one million.[45] Sci Fi Australia has picked up the show from Channel Seven, with the first episode aired Friday, 24 June 2008 at 8:30pm EST.

Home video releases[edit]

The region 2 and 4 DVDs were titled Bionic Woman – The Complete Series and Bionic Woman – Complete Series, respectively.

Title Set details DVD release dates Special features
Region 1[46] Region 2[47] Region 4[48]
Bionic Woman – Volume One
  • Discs: 2
  • Episodes: 8
March 18, 2008 (2008-03-18) May 12, 2008 (2008-05-12) June 4, 2008 (2008-06-04)
  • Pilot commentary with executive producer David Eick
  • The Making of the Car Crash
  • Real-Life Bionics
  • The Stunts
  • Profiles
Bionic Woman – The Pilot Episode
  • Discs: 1
  • Episodes: 1
N/A April 7, 2008 (2008-04-07) N/A

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goodman, Tim. "NBC Upfronts: Heroic expansions" Tim Goodman: The Bastard Machine. SFGate.com. (May 14, 2007)
  2. ^ "Ex-EastEnders star Michelle Ryan set for massive success as Bionic Woman". London: Daily Mail. May 11, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2008. 
  3. ^ "NBC Fall Preview – Bionic Woman". NBC. Retrieved March 3, 2010. 
  4. ^ Bionic Woman news - from Lindsay Wagner website
  5. ^ "BSG producer's new Bionic Woman finally cast". BuddyTV.com. 
  6. ^ "Bionic Woman coming to Canada". Canada.com. 
  7. ^ Adalian, Josef (2006-10-09). "'Bionic' skein rebuilt at NBC". Variety. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  8. ^ "NBC Greenlights The Bionic Woman" The Hollywood Reporter. (January 3, 2007)
  9. ^ Gorman, Steve (May 11, 2007). "NBC enlists Bionic Woman to help rescue ratings". Reuters. Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ Rhodes, Joe (September 23, 2007). "Dark Makeover for a '70s Cyborg". New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2008. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Kenneth. "What's New?". 
  12. ^ "Lindsay Wagner Workshops and Retreats The Columbian". Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Hollywood writers strike hurts industry in Vancouver". CBC News. 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  14. ^ "Studios Suspend Actors as Result of Writers’ Strike". World Screen. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  15. ^ "'Bionic Woman': Identity crisis". Zap2It.com. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  16. ^ "Update: Bionic Woman Has Not Been Unplugged". TVGuide. 
  17. ^ "AP: So, when are my shows coming back?". CNN.com. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  18. ^ a b "NBC plans returns, makes pick-ups". Zap2It.com. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  19. ^ a b Levin, Gary (2007-07-16). "Washington to return to network TV". USA Today. 
  20. ^ Keveney, Bill (2007-08-21). "'Bionic Woman' remake plugs into modern mindset". USA Today. 
  21. ^ a b c "WHO'S IN & WHO'S OUT NEXT SEASON". The Futon Critic. 
  22. ^ Ausiello, Michael (2007-06-27). "Exclusive! A Bionic Recast!". TV Guide. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  23. ^ "Bionic Woman Gets a New Sister". Zap2it. 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  24. ^ "Michelle Ryan leaps into role of 'Bionic Woman'". Access Hollywood. NBC. 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  25. ^ "NBC's New Bionic Woman A Mix of Dark Angel, Smallville & Alias!!". Ain't It Cool News. 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  26. ^ Broenfield, Robin (2007-05-11). "Sackhoff To Play A Machine This Fall". SyFy Portal. The SyUniverse Group. Archived from the original on January 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  27. ^ "Cast members added to yet-to-air TV shows". Zap2it, Jackson Clarion Ledger. 2007-08-03. 
  28. ^ "NBC picks up four dramas; 'Friday' back". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  29. ^ a b "'Lights' Boss Takes on 'Bionic Woman'". zap2it.com. 
  30. ^ "Cahill in 'Bionic' driver's seat". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  31. ^ Esposito, Maria (2007-09-28). "US viewers turn bionic". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  32. ^ "Brooke's big return". Advertiser Australia. 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  33. ^ Bawden, Jim (2007-06-06). "TV lineup launch disrupted". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-06-15. 
  34. ^ Grant, Jules (2007-06-28). "ITV continues Screenings spree". C21Media. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 
  35. ^ "Report on post strike network TV". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  36. ^ "When do our shows come back?". USA Today. 2008-02-11. 
  37. ^ a b SyFy Portal, Feb. 20, 2008
  38. ^ http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=1&id=50610[dead link]
  39. ^ NBC Fall Schedule Scoop! – Ausiello Report | TVGuide.com
  40. ^ McNamara, Mary (August 25, 2008). "Times TV Critic Mary McNamara on surprises and disappointments". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  41. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (September 26, 2007). "New Series: Women Test Mettle, and Metal". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  42. ^ The notion that the original series was "campy" appears to be a recurring theme in reviews of the remake, and in the attitudes of cast and crewmembers during interviews, when in fact the original series was Emmy Award-winning and generally considered more serious in tone than its parent program.
  43. ^ Goodman, Tim (September 24, 2007). "Tim Goodman: Reviews: Journeyman, Chuck and Bionic Woman". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  44. ^ Idato, Michael (October 3, 2007). "Bionic Woman - TV Reviews". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  45. ^ Dale, David (2007-11-25). "The Tribal Mind: A year of neophilia". SMH: Stay In Touch. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  46. ^ Region 1 DVD set:
  47. ^ Region 2 DVD sets:
  48. ^ Region 4 DVD set:

External links[edit]