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Bionic Woman is an Americanmarker science fiction television drama created by David Eick, under NBC Universal Television Group, GEP Productions and David Eick Productions that aired in 2007. The series is a re-imagining of the original television series, The Bionic Woman, created by Kenneth Johnson and based upon the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, and retains its forebear's premise while taking on a more contemporary setting. David Eick also serves as executive producer alongside Laeta Kalogridis and Jason Smilovic.

The series revolves 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.

Production of the series was halted due to a strike by the Writers Guild of America, and it was not included in the Fall 2008 schedule announced by NBC in early April 2008. The series was cancelled as the result of low ratings.

Plot

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. Now, Jaime must learn how to use her new abilities while working to understand the new life that she has been thrust into. In addition to a bionic ear, and bionic legs and a bionic right arm, the new Jaime Sommers possessed a bionic eye like that of Steve Austin. In addition, Sommers possessed nanomachines called anthrocytes which were capable of healing her body at a highly accelerated rate.

Production

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.


It was later reported that the USA Network was considering airing the series, with Jennifer Aniston being in consideration for the lead role. 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 reconceptualization 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]." In January 2007, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the series one-hour pilot was given an official greenlight by NBC. On May 10, 2007, NBC announced that they had given an early pick-up to Bionic Woman for their fall 2007 schedule. Since the rights to the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin were held by other parties, the new series excluded any elements from it. 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. 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.

WGA strike

Due to a strike by the Writers Guild of America, production of the series was halted in mid-November 2007, and the regular actors were suspended on half-pay for a period of five weeks. The series has since aired all of the episodes that were completed before production halted. Several websites rumored that NBC had cancelled the series, but an NBC Universal Media Studios spokesperson told the press that the show had not been cancelled and that production of the first season would continue when the WGA strike ended. 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". 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.

Cast

Main characters

  • Jaime Wells Sommers (Michelle Ryan) is a bartender who is involved in a near fatal car accident and becomes the Bionic Woman.
  • Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer) is a member of the Berkut Group.
  • Ruth Treadwell (Molly Price) is Bledsoe's second in command.
  • Jae Kim (Will Yun Lee) is a specialized operations leader with the Berkut Group, and was romantically involved with Sarah Corvus.
  • Becca Sommers (Lucy Kate Hale) is Jaime's high school-aged sister. Previously she had been cast as a deaf character played by Mae Whitman, but was removed and reshot prior to release
  • Will Anthros (Chris Bowers) is Jaime's boyfriend; he performs the operation that gives her the bionic implants, but is shot and killed by Sarah Corvus soon after.
  • Anthony Anthros (Mark Sheppard) is 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

  • Sarah Corvus (Katee Sackhoff) is 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.
  • Antonio Pope (Isaiah Washington) is 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. Pope was shot and killed by a former colleague at the end of the seventh episode.
  • Nathan (Kevin Rankin) is one of the Bionic team members. He works as a technician and routinely monitors Jamie during her missions.
  • Tom (Jordan Bridges) is a member of the CIA and Jamie's new boyfriend.


Announced characters

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


Casting

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. Lucy Hale was later cast as Whitman's replacement in July 2007. In announcing the recasting, it was confirmed that the deaf trait of the character had been dropped. Instead, Hale's version of the character is depicted as a rebellious teen and budding computer hacker. Katee Sackhoff was cast as Sarah Corvus, the first Bionic Woman, and her character subsequently appeared in the 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. 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. As Ryan is from England and naturally speaks with received pronunciation, she affects an American accent for her role as Sommers. 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.

Crew

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. 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, citing creative differences. In September, Friday Night Lights executive producer Jason Katims joined the show as a consultant. Katims ran the writer's room until late October, when Sopranos veteran Jason Cahill was hired as the new showrunner.

Broadcast history

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. 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.

Due to the strike by the Writers Guild of America, production of the series was put on hiatus. Several media outlets reported that Bionic Woman had been cancelled, although there was no official confirmation from NBC. 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. 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. David Eick, the series' co-executive producer, confirmed on March 19, 2008 that the series had been cancelled, although the network has still not officially announced it. The series was subsequently not included in the Fall 2008 schedule announced by NBC in early April 2008.

As of September 2009 NBC still has a Bionic Woman website running, though elements are disabled. The NBC Message Boards have discontinued the Bionic Woman forum.

Reception and ratings

Critical reception

The series met with mixed critical 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. Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times felt that Bionic Woman was more about "fembot martial arts and slick Matrix-ish special effects than about character development"; oriented towards young male viewers. Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle felt that the remake was "a lot darker than the campy original", 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". 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 likeable 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". Not all reviews were as optimistic; Michael Hinman of SyFy Portal referred to the show as "a disaster".

US ratings

# Episode Air Date Rating Share Viewers Rank
1
Pilot
September 26, 2007
5.5
14
13.91
#2
2
Paradise Lost
October 3, 2007
4.0
10
11.07
#3
3
Sisterhood
October 10, 2007
3.8
10
10.10
#2
4
Face off
October 17, 2007
3.3
8
8.61
#3
5
The Education Of Jaime Sommers
October 24, 2007
3.3
8
7.81
#4
6
The List
November 7, 2007
2.7
7
6.44
#3
7
Trust Issues
November 14, 2007
2.5
6
6.30
#4
8
Do Not Disturb
November 28, 2007
2.2
5
5.99
#4


In the following summary, "rating" is the percentage of all households with televisions that tuned to the show, and "share" is the percentage of all televisions in use at that time that are tuned in. Unless otherwise cited, the overnight rating and share information comes from Zap2It. The following week, the numbers are updated with the final Nielsen numbers from TVWeek.com. Additional ratings information, including the 18–49 rating, comes from BroadcastingCable. Viewer numbers and rank numbers come from the Los Angeles Times.

Australia ratings

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.Sci Fi Australia has picked up the show from Channel Seven, with the first episode aired Friday, 24 June 2008 at 8:30pm EST.

DVD release

DVD name Release date Ep # Additional information
The Complete Series March 18, 2008 8
  • Pilot Commentary with Executive Producer David Eick
  • The Making of the Car Crash
  • The Stunts
  • Profiles
  • Real Life Bionics


The series was released on DVD in North America as a two-disc set on March 18, 2008. Besides the extant episodes, the set also includes interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes, as well as a featurette on real-life bionics. The set was subtitled Volume 1, suggesting that Universal still expected the series to be renewed at that time.

The pilot episode was released in the United Kingdom on Region 2 on April 7, 2008. A further Region 2 two-disc set containing all eight episodes from the show was released on May 12, 2008; unlike the Region 1 release, this version was entitled "The Complete Series".

References

  1. Goodman, Tim. "NBC Upfronts: Heroic expansions" Tim Goodman: The Bastard Machine. SFGate.com. (May 14, 2007)
  2. Bionic Woman news - from Lindsay Wagner website
  3. "NBC Greenlights The Bionic Woman" The Hollywood Reporter. (January 3, 2007)
  4. SyFy Portal, Feb. 20, 2008
  5. http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=1&id=50610
  6. NBC Fall Schedule Scoop! - Ausiello Report | TVGuide.com
  7. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 9/26/07
  8. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 10/03/07
  9. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 10/10/07
  10. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 10/17/07
  11. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 10/24/07
  12. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 11/07/07
  13. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 11/14/07
  14. Fast Nationals; Change when finals are published. Prime-Time Ratings: Wednesday 11/28/07
  15. TELEVISION & RADIO; Prime-Time TV Rankings; `NCIS' soars to top of the ratings; With repeats ruling the airwaves, the drama helps CBS extend its streak as the most-watched network (copy posted to Usenet), Dec 20, 2006, Los Angeles Times, page E16


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