“Bionic Woman”: Better, faster, stronger?

So, was it good for you? The much heralded, much anticipated, much drooled-over Bionic Woman premiered last night. Are you still basking in the afterglow, or do you feel like you’ve taken a cold shower?

Me, I’m already smitten. But not with the title character. Oh, Sarah Corvus. You had me at “Time out.” Seriously, what is it about the bad girls?

*** Warning: Spoilers! ***

OK, time in. Early reviews of Bionic Woman have heaped praise on bionic baddie Katee Sackhoff, and rightfully so. She is everything you want in your villain: fierce and frightening, damaged and deranged, insanely hot and possibly just insane. She steals every scene she is in and you find yourself wishing she would pop up in those she is not in. Plus, how awesome was that fight at the end? I rewatched it three times. For real.

Which also highlights one of the episode’s weaknesses. While Katee and the fight were riveting, much of the pilot was bogged down in exposition (look, she is a bartender. Look, she has a bratty kid sister. Look, she is dating a professor who, while she calls him “not entirely uncharming,” has yet to convince me he is not entirely boring). Which leads us to the Bionic Woman herself, Michelle Ryan. The British actress has no problem mastering an American accent, but she needs to work on her gravitas. I mean, I’m sure the shock of suddenly being imbued with super strength and superhuman abilities is disconcerting, but no one is tuning in to the Bionic Woman for bionic angst.

Battlestar Galactica mastermind David Eick clearly has reframed Bionic Woman as a darker psychological drama than the camptastic ’70s original. But in embracing the melodrama, he has sucked some of the fun out of the formula, at least for now. And if the show insists on taking itself so seriously, it should dial down the overdone score. No need to hit us over the head with pulsing, pounding, can-you-feel-the-tension-cause-this-is-really-tense music. We get it; this is Drama with a capital D.

Still, there is something almost irresistible about watching a woman come into her power. I hope that as Jaime Sommers becomes more comfortable with her abilities, Michelle will also grow into her part. And, for the love of all that is kick-ass, please let’s have her square off with Katee as many times as possible. Practice makes perfect, right?

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