|This is my brain on stir-fry
||[Jul. 27th, 2007|01:15 am]
David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)
Well, I knew the streak of interesting pilots would come to an end sooner rather than later, and it's with some little regret (due to drewshi's love of the original and hopes for this) that I note that The Bionic Woman, with Michelle Ryan playing Jaime Sommers, is not the least bit encouraging, overall. Ryan is a rather puffy, vapid actress who all but sleepwalks through the entire thing, which is rather hard to do when engaging in a round of rain-drenched ass-kicking with Katee Sackhoff.
Sackhoff is one of the few bright spots in this pilot, in fact. She hits the ground running with her role as Sarah Corvus, the original Bionic Woman, a highly efficient psychotic with an unknown agenda and murky connections. It's her screwed-up attempt to kill scientist Will Anthros (the son of the man who created the Bionic implants and infects) that leads to Jaime Sommers being rebuilt, and later it's her battle with Jaime that brings out Jaime's own Bionic elements at full throttle. Frankly, Sackhoff would have been a better choice for the lead...but she did have her obligations to Battlestar Galactica, rendering the recurring role a better idea. Also of note are Miguel Ferrer (not playing Oscar Goldman; his character, like most, is new) and Will Yun Lee as a head of security with his own murky underpinnings. Everybody else is pretty much forgettable.
The idea is basically to reboot and re-imagine the series in a darker vein, but it doesn't really click. The writing is dull, the direction is uninspired, the visual effects are very poor, and the editing is clunky. While some of this can be fixed in the continued post-production process -- mandated particularly with the replacement of the actress who played Jaime's deaf emo teenage sister with a non-emo sister who can hear and is a genius hacker to boot -- the central problems remain, with Michelle Ryan being pretty much the anchor that could drag the show to its grave.
Slightly less wretched is Cavemen, the half hour comedy based on those GEICO commercials running everywhere every five minutes. The bad news: none of the actors from the commercials are in the show. Better news: the actors they cast are actually pretty good, particularly Nick Kroll as intellectual, cynical caveman Nick. The direction is solid, and there are some laughs along the way, along with some dumb gags (including a puke gag that's telegraphed five minutes ahead of arrival.) The problem is that rather than charting their own course on this show, the producers have opted for starting out with a bit of a twist (one very intellectual caveman, one more of a regular guy, one whose IQ is about his shoe size -- but he can dance...well, kind of; he's really not much better than the galvanic-shock white girls on show) and once they've run Nick's cerebral sarcasm for a couple of minutes, they change down and basically write the thing as a blah and borderline offensive sitcom about African-Americans with the black stuff sanded off. What it needs to be, really, is something more surreal and energetic -- this is another one of those glacially paced pieces.
The pilot for Cavemen has been redone -- they've apparently recast one of the leads as well, which is a pity; hopefully it's Dash Mihok who's gotten shuffled out, as he's the one who could be recast without too much of a problem. The best approach, frankly, would be to chuck most of the story and start over. Even with that, I can't see this show (which is now being slated for midseason) really catching on.