“Aim high and serve nothing but aces”: (Re)-watching The Bionic Woman

Mel O'Drama

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The actress was not bad, but she was not Lindsay Wagner.

Before doing The Bionic Woman, Michelle Ryan was already well-known in the UK as young Zoë Slater in UK soap EastEnders, best remembered for this iconic argument/revelation scene with her sister, Kat:

 

johnnybear

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I never bothered with the remake either! Michelle Ryan didn't do it for me and I remembered she was from Eastenders, a soap show I detest so just couldn't be asked to watch her in a sci-fi update!
JB
 

Mel O'Drama

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A few more commentaries down: The Ghosthunter; Road To Nashville and Biofeedback. All very enjoyable and informative, with Kenneth doing The Ghosthunter and Lindsay the two from the Second Season.

Lindsay Wagner says on the commentary for Road to Nashville that she worked very hard to hit those notes. And says that she had wanted to be a singer, before she started acting. She also mentions that the episodes of the series were shot in six days and they working up to 17 hours in a day. She says she was nervous singing around the professional singers and professional musicians. But she says that soon afterwards, she was at a fundraiser and Hoyt Acton called her in stage to sing with him. She mentions that for a time, they lived close to each other.

I'm really impressed at how switched on Lindsay seems to be about the business.

More than once she mentioned that it was her friend who convinced her that doing the series would be an opportunity for her to be able to say something, and advised her to ask Universal to stop offering her more money and instead allow Lindsay a degree of creative control to make suggestions and to turn down ideas she didn't like. It's even more impressive considering the time in which it was made, and how few female-led series there were.

Fascinating to hear that Biofeedback was Lindsay's suggestion, based on alternative therapy techniques she'd studied herself. I wonder if this was related to the car accident she was in. I got the sense it went back to even before that.

It's also interesting to hear Lindsay reflect that she might have been a pain in the rear during her BW days due to her insistence at trying some of the ideas and the many conversations she had with Kenneth and the writers over her character.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Jaime following along with a programme featuring a British female cook. Who is it, I wonder? Zena Skinner? Fanny Craddock? Delia Smith, even?

Aha. It's Julia Child, apparently. At least according to the fascinating Kenny Johnson audio commentary for Part I of Doomsday Is Tomorrow, which I'm watching as I write.
 

Mel O'Drama

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the fascinating Kenny Johnson audio commentary for Part I of Doomsday Is Tomorrow,

Having now watched both parts, it's really hit home what an amazing collaborative vision this series is. Both Kenneth and Lindsay were not just wholeheartedly invested in the truth of the stories and characters, but also brought a richness through their interest in the technical aspects of making the series work.

Kenny talked in great detail about his backstory, his relationships with cast and crew and his choices in terms of writing and direction. In addition, his memory for the making of specific episodes is wonderful, so he was able to cover little moments such as a scene when Oscar sat on the desk in front of Jaime and Lindsay felt she wanted to flick his leg with an elastic band to give a little human moment. It's on-screen for less than a second, but it shows an incredible attention to the smallest of details in each and every episode. And that extended to everyone involved in making this series.

No wonder it's such a joy to watch, even if it was a pain to shoot at times.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Last night I watched writer James D. Parriott's audio commentary for Part I of The Bionic Dog:


Considering the two bionic series now exist on different networks and crossovers are apparently verboten, it’s all the more surprising that both stories so far have included a number of flashbacks not only to Jaime’s adventures on her old network, but also to her pre-spinoff history on The Six Million Dollar Man.

This surprised me all over again while re-watching.


The Bionic Dog in particular has given Martin E. Brooks a great deal of screen-time and a fairly meaty story where we see a tougher, less affable side to his character. It’s great to see this layer of coldness to him as Rudy refuses to admit that he may be wrong and grimly sets on with his decision to kill Maximillian the dog, snubbing Jaime as she tries to plead with him. It’s not an easy thing for a character to come back from, but the writing and performances pull it off admirably.

James comments on the change in Rudy this episode and how challenging he found it to write for these very reasons.


Max (the episode) is notable for being an episode in which Jaime hardly appears. In fact it feels very much like a backdoor pilot for a Bionic Dog series.

And James confirms this was the plan when writing The Bionic Dog. He also mentions writing this without realising that, some years earlier, a female author had already written a bionic dog called Maximillion who may even have had a bionic jaw. Which meant that he wouldn't be entitled to a creator credit if the new series had come to pass.
 

Mel O'Drama

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The Jim Sherrard podcast for Brain Wash was a nice touch. It's always good to hear the perspective of a superfan who knows the series inside out, and Jim had a lot of knowledge about many aspects of the episode from locations (cut to me getting into a Google Maps wormhole) to actors to Lindsay's infamous plunging top. It also drew my attention to The Bionic Woman Files website which I'm sure I'll have some fun dipping into.
 
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