Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bionic Lady Person


Well, the pilot had Katie Starbuck, or whatever her name is. Which is weird. I guess she's looking at jumping on another series before BSG wraps up and that gravy train rolls to a halt. Anyhoo, she's the evil Ladytron. I doubt she'll be in every episode, but there you have it. Jason should be happy.

The San Francisco of the show is very clearly Canada. So I kinda wish they'd quit telling us it is San Francisco when it COULD be somewhere in the Pacific Northwest with a few establishing shots. Or Canada. Because, really, why not? Remember when every place Scully and Mulder visited across the US just happened to look like Canada?

The Bionic Lady Person is TV attractive and, one would guess, not too bad of an actor. But, like many pilots, this one was so full of exposition, that, well... Who knows? The writers for this episode were big on telling rather than showing, which didn't give the BLP much room showing her chops. In fact, our Jamie Summers does a lot of looking like some lost, shell-shocked Deschanel sister even before she's hit by an 18 wheeler. Most of her dialog is complaining about being given a superhuman body (?) and/ or giving mini-exposition.

Thanks to her upgrades, we're to believe that BLP feels like a freak, but there's no indication as to why. She looks, after all, completely normal and seems to feel mostly normal, but its in vogue for super powers to be a burden (thank you, Marvel Comics), hence a lot of moping. Of greater consequence is the weighty question posed by the budgetless biomed/military research team as to whether they should hang onto the Bionic Lady Person and/ or kill her rather than letting her go after her surgery. Unfortunately, they kinda play that card early. As a viewer, it doesn't feel like much of a threat to our hero as neither Bionic Dead Person, nor Bionic Prisoner sounds terribly appealing for a prime time spot.

We're told by the BLP's boyfriend (a walking plot point) that the BLP is somehow different and special, and while nothing necessarily contradicts this point, there's also nothing to suggest she is, in fact, special. She's a 24 year old bartender and a college drop out. Aside from the fact that she owns a really, really huge place in San Francisco on a bartender's salary, she's pretty darn ordinary, which is great. I like "everymen". However, the show shouldn't tell us our cyborg is so amazing that this professor/ neurosurgeon/ mad scientist boyfriend never met anyone like her (Because, Doc, I can walk into any Bennigan's in the US and find someone just as "special").

What the show does have going for it are two things: 1) Good special FX 2) a glowering Miguel Ferrer. I'm always going to cheer for my man Ferrer. He's an aces actor, and while I've only ever seen a small part of his output, I know what I'm getting with Ferrer. In BLP, he manages to out-presence everyone else in every scene he's in without really trying. But what can he do? He's Miguel Ferrer, and that's why you hire the man.

The number one strike BLP has going against it is that, like so many other shows, this program has decided it will have a built in mythology from episode #1. Unfortunately, rather than slowly revealing aspects from BLP's point of view, the producers chose to drop us in the middle of things, somewhere several years into the Shadowy Government Bionic People Making Project. I understand that's more or less how TV shows now work, but... sigh. Give me time to get used to the show. Try some literary devices like foreshadowing or something (and no, dropping in scenes of characters not tied to the main action speaking in cryptic, disjointed dialog is not foreshadowing. See what works for the show before you eliminate any wiggle room. Especially when you might as well have a blink tag on the character which reads: Bad Guy.)

There's something sort of perfunctory about the whole pilot, as if the producers didn't trust the story to unfold on its own. This could have easily been a two hour movie, but instead, the Spider-Man-like discovery of powers is crammed in there in two or three scenes, none of which give BLP an opportunity to REACT to her powers other than that googy-eyed scared expression.

Making the whole thing kinda by-the-numbers, the supporting characters are barely defined, yet plugged with enough TV friendly cues that you sorta get the idea (ex: the rebellious sister who just needs to be loved, but, hey... she's also a computer whiz! It all seemed so extraneous at the time...).

Add in the perfunctory super karate face off with Katie Starbuck (in high heels, no less), and the unconvincing face off between BLP and Miguel Ferrer (who pwns her), and you got your show in motion. In most ways that count, Katie Starbuck's storyline is a lot more interesting than that of BLP.

I dunno. I was sort of excited by the possibilities for this series, but now?

I'm giving them another episode or two to see how it all shakes out.


Anonymous said...

I have a habit of Tivo-ing premiers, and I did it with this one. So, to make a long story short, I watched it this morning while waiting for an emergency locksmith to show up because I had f'd up the latch on the front door by accidently trying to slam it shut without noticing that one of the twin's hot wheels was in the door jam.

I have to preface any review with my general theory that initial expectations greatly effect how you rate something. (I remember Roger Ebert's column a long time ago on that subject about why he had rated Revenge of the Nerds higher than some flick that ended up getting alot of Academy Award nominations.) Suffice it to say that my expectations were medium at best, and probably low.

But I liked it.

And I'm not sure I can agree with you on the anti "in medias res" philosophy. Exposition is difficult, but neccesary. Overall, it worked decently for me.

I only Tivo'd the premiere, but I'll record a couple more and give it a chance.

The League said...

I actually felt I went fairly easy on the episode as I understand that exposition was necessary, especially when talking cyborgs. I felt they tried to cram two or three episodes worth of action into a single hour of TV.

I will be watching a few more episodes, so lets check in again after the next episode.

Michael Corley said...

The first thing that I came away with after whatching this (DVR, just yesterday) was the tell not show aspect. Good God, don't TELL me she's special, SHOW me what an evil bastard his controlling Daddy is and how refreshing her zest for life is, and I'll think "huh, that's why he digs a bartender".

I would have liked a bit more to the character, but I wouldn't forgive them taking too damn long to get to the bionics, so, as you say, I'm giving this two or three more espisodes before my mind is made up.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you and I came to the same conclusion, so far, that is, which is "I'll watch a few more".

My only point was that I'm surprised that I'm watching any more, while it sounds like you're disappointed that you may only watch a few more. Again, I think it was a differnece in intial expectations (I had none).

Anyrate, this week's episode is still sitting there on my Tivo list, and if I'm really bored this weekend, I might fire it up...