While Lindsay Wagner rests comfortably on her Sleep Number Bed, Michelle Ryan is out on the street kicking butt and taking names in “The Bionic Woman,” an updated version of the popular 1970’s television adventure series.
At the San Diego Comic-Con this past July, NBC offered attendees a sneak peek at the pilot episode, but that version had a raw, uneven quality to it. Fortunately, the retooled pilot features great writing and acting, especially from supporting actor Miguel Ferrer.
Ryan plays Jaime Sommers, a San Francisco bartender who has the unenviable task of taking care of a rebellious little sister named Becca (Lucy Hale). Convicted of an undisclosed crime, Becca is no longer allowed, by court order, to use any computer that’s connected to the Internet
Jaime also feels a little outclassed by Will (Chris Bowers), her surgeon boyfriend who teaches a college-level class in Bio Ethics. Sommers, a high school drop-out, wonders why someone surrounded by great minds would spend time with her.
Jaime finds out how much he truly loves her, though, after an 18-wheeler smashes into his mid-sized car. Will survives with some minor cuts, but Jaime suffers life-threatening injuries, so he brings her to a secret laboratory where he performs top-secret research. Will rebuilds his wounded girlfriend using computer implants and anthracites, which seem to be turbo-charged versions of the tiny mechanisms called nanites. The anthracites rebuild her legs and arm, making them better, stronger and faster.
Horrified at what she’s been turned into, Jaime repays Will’s love and kindness by throwing him into a wall. Feeling like Frankenstein’s monster, Jaime returns to her job at the bar, but more of her new abilities, including increased vision and hearing, start coming online. An extremely friendly stranger named Sarah (Katee Sackhoff from “Battlestar Galactica”) seems to know exactly what Jaime is going through, talking about the information overload that happens when the implants first become active.
Hours later, Jaime finds out why Sarah is so knowledgeable about her new powers and parts. It seems that Sarah was the first person rebuilt using this new technology and she enjoys her enhancements so much that she made a few upgrades.
Though the first version of the pilot left something to be desired, the retooled “Bionic Woman” is slickly-written and explores the dark side of being a super hero. Suffice it to say, this Jaime Sommers is physically and morally able to wipe the floor with her 1970’s counterpart.
In addition to a superb performance from Michelle Ryan (“EastEnders”), Miguel Ferrer is coolly efficient as Jonas, the head of Will’s secret project. More than just a walking cartoon, Ferrer gives his character depth, especially in a heartbreaking scene where Jonas describes what happened to his late wife.
Two months ago, I was ready to say that Jaime Sommers needed to go back to the shop for repairs, but this version of “The Bionic Woman” looks like a fine addition to the NBC lineup.
“The Bionic Woman” premieres on NBC on Wednesday, September 26 at 9 p.m. EST.