Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Jaime (Moi Non Plus)
RAINY! Bionic Woman, ITV2, 9.00pm
Trying to talk up this remake of the classic 1970s sci-fi series isn't easy, considering that by the time it arrives on our screens, it has already been cancelled by NBC in America following disappointing ratings. And given all the hype by the British media when our very own Michelle Ryan, formerly Zoe Slater in EastEnders, of course, landed the lead role, this gave a perfect opportunity for the always pro-women's lib Daily Mail to write an article implying that the entire failure of the series was Michelle Ryan's fault, without ever saying that in as many words. (We'll admit, it must take talent of a kind to write such an utterly disingenuous article as that while simultaneously repressing the urge to punch yourself in the face. Perhaps they all have bionic arms too - it would probably make such a feat easier.)
Having had a sneaky preview of the first episode, we'll admit it has its flaws, but Michelle Ryan is not one of them: she copes well with a fairly thankless lead role (prior to going bionic, Jaime Sommers displays season seven Buffy levels of sulky self-loathing), and once you've adjusted to the accent and stopped expecting her to bellow "You ain't my mum!" at Jessie Wallace in the next scene, she's a surprisingly assured leading lady. The problem is more that the show seems incredibly dated - all of the Creepy Non-Specific Scientific Institute scenes read like something out of Dark Angel, although thankfully minus the hip hop slang. And unfortunately, there really aren't many pages of the Big Book o' Sci-Fi Clichés that are left unturned - we cringed as we watched Jaime zipping through some woodland on her bionic legs while the camera cut to a precocious child in the back of a car driven by an uninterested parent, which was the cue for the old "Mommy, mommy! Look at that fast running lady!" "Now dear, what have I told you about making up stories?" exchange. (Also slightly questionable is the way the show follows this up with the moppet smiling and saying that she "just thought it was cool that a girl could do that", suggesting the show has delusions of feminist relevance.)
It's not a total write-off, mind - the last 15 minutes or so are pretty fun, as Jaime gets to grips with her bionic bits during a rooftop battle (at night, in the rain, of course - according to this show it never stops raining in San Francisco) with the first bionic woman - played by Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, who steals every scene she's in as the unhinged prototype. There's probably not too much point in developing an attachment to the show, for obvious reasons, but it's still worth a look. At least by watching you can pretend you're sticking two fingers up at the aforementioned sneaky tabloid, which seems like reason enough to us.