SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
January 12, 1977
Mood Ring: Green
The Bionic Woman had lots of real organs and blood on tonight. I had to keep covering my eyes. It was about some guy who could stop breathing and talk to his guts. It was even more gross when Jaime kissed him.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 2x12
BE STILL MY BEATING HEART
Tonight we get an unexpected lesson in human anatomy.
January 2, 2014
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Tibetan Blue
Suggested refreshments while viewing this episode: Limit to one martini and NO snacks whatsoever. Our goal is to have as little in our stomachs as possible in order to make clean-up easier whenever certain biofeeding scenes appear. Unless you 1) know how to mentally control your nausea, 2) work in a butcher shop or 3) your name is Hannibal Lechter—in which case you will probably savor this with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti.
I'm one of those people who gets queasy at the sight of internal organs (there's a reason I never became a nurse), so unfortunately these graphic human heart scenes always remained my most vivid memories of Biofeedback.
So I was bravely looking forward to watching this again as a grown-up because I am especially proud to say I've now made it through like 800 bloody episodes of CSI. And even a dozen or so grotesque installments of American Horror Story. I am strong. Okay I still cover my eyes. But with decades of desensitizing practice, a softball 70s TV episode like Biofeedback would naturally be much easier for me now, right?
Wrrrong. Pass the Pepto Bismol. However I will say that graphic images aside—I was pleased to discover I liked this episode much more the second time around.
Biofeed Back The Clocks: The Bionic Woman was right on time tonight, bouncing by Rudy's lab in Washington wearing a lovely ecru tasseled knit shawl over her head, an item that will turn up again in 3rd season's Brain Wash.
We see some guy wearing only shorts, sprawled out on a gurney hooked up to monitors. Jaime notices he isn't breathing and his EKG reading is flat, and when she can't bionic-hear a heartbeat, she pronounces him dead. OMG does Rudy know about this potential medical malpractice suit?
She rushes to go find Dr. Wells, who is currently busy in a meeting with Oscar and a man named Payton arguing over budget cuts. Some "coding analyzer" machine this guy designed was financed by the OSI, but then the great congressional sequester of 1977 hit so unfortunately Oscar has to cut off his funding for making more of these fancy electronic props. Welcome to Washington, kid.
Oops Jaime is sorry to interrupt you guys, but Rudy do you even care there's a DEAD man in your office?! Jaime is borderline hysterical and removes the shawl from her head for dramatic effect.
So they all rush back to the morgue lab. Rudy looks at the guy's vitals and monitors with amazement—the patient is coming back and Jaime's all like you mean "from the dead?" Rudy nods, but only VAGUELY. Hey no fair the Bionic Woman already did a Ghosthunter episode and the zombie apocalypse doesn't make a TV comeback for another 30 years. What the f… CUE THE OPENING THEME SONG.
Biofeed a Cold Starve A Fever: After the commercial we return to the lab, where Rudy explains the Walking Dead man's name is Darwin Jones—the younger brother of budget victim Payton we met earlier. (I see, so there's like this football quarterback Payton/Darwin Manning brothers rivalry going on.)
Derwood I mean Darwin, is an Ivy League doctor, MIT brain researcher and just spent 3 years with monks meditating in Tibet. PLUS he can make himself play dead. Meanwhile, complete failure brother Payton only designed a little Ovaltine decoder and—no thanks to Oscar—now has to sign up for food stamps. Whatev. I have decided to cheer for the brother in the tight shorts who isn’t so uptight.
Dagwood, I mean Darwin (he's totally getting the Endora son-in-law treatment from me) wakes up to meet the angelic Jaime Sommers and asks if this is heaven. Okay actually he merely regains consciousness and Rudy yells at him hard for not warning him he was going into death mode. And then Jaime adds, "you scared the (ahem) out of me." I heart it when Miss Sommers lets her students fill in the 4-letter blanks.
Woah, suddenly Derwood can feel an electromagnetic charge coming from like a loose wire on one of the machine thingys because he's ultra sensitive to that stuff now. Which of course means he can also sense Jaime's bionic arm when she politely shakes hands with him, causing Rudy to help quickly change the subject because it's none of Dermwit's OSI business.
Biofeed Back To The Future: Jaime divulges she learned meditation back when she was a tennis pro but is full of questions on this new research and what this episode is about. The gist: since Derwood's a medical doctor, he knows anatomy and how the body works. So he concentrates and raises his level of awareness to focus on his guts, and literally commanded his own heart to stop beating. Rudy chimes in and tells Jaime the scientific term for this is "Biofeedback." Hey I saw an episode about this once oh wait this is it.
Ring ring, the destitute brother Payton gets a call in the outer office, and the phone is handed to him by a white-smocked female lab assistant named Terry. If you immediately shouted "hey those hands look familiar," then you really should get a life.
Actually, she is played by Inge Lindgreen, who is also Lindsay Wagner's body double in the series, and often does the Jaime closeups like bionic hand scenes to spare Ms. Wagner from the grunt stuff. Here's a really lovely interview with Inge on James Sherrard's The Bionic Woman Files site. She seems nice.
Anyway, Payton is being boldly contacted by some bad guy in broad daylight RIGHT THERE AT THE OSI OFFICE with an offer to steal-buy his decoder out from under the US Government. Too bad Inge only has Jaime's fake stand-in bionic ear or we could have nipped this smarmy bro plot right in the bud.
Bio-Feet: Then it's time for Dagwit to show us his stuff. He's going to demonstrate to Jaime how he Biofeedbacks so he can walk over a bed of hot charcoal briquettes that Rudy has set up on the floor of the lab. And then later they're probably going to barbecue ribs.
The script takes special care to note that you have to stay completely focused with positively NO distractions. Derwood explains how he does it—starting by closing his eyes and chanting "Om shanti peace, peace," then he imagines mountains in Tibet, and then he envisions relaxing his bloody arteries, um hey what IS that… and then it shows an effin' live human heart pumping and ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww *thud*
When I came to, Dumpkin is walking over the hot coals barefoot and Jaime and Rudy are cringing at the sight because as Rudy notes, these charcoals are at "120 degrees centigrade." Okay bionic producer people last time I looked this was an AMERICAN television series; we should be doing Fahrenheit don't make me have to google conversion charts I'm trying to CONCENTRATE here. And then ew ew NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… he begins to "normalize" chant to end his meditation, and OMG there's that bloody pumping heart again and *THUD*
Hell-o? How 'bout a little graphic warning here. Clearly we are going to have to self-censor in order to get through this episode. Forthwith, as a weak-stomached viewer, I am printing out the following friendly internal anatomy substitutions and taping them over my TV screen whenever he starts ommm shanti-ing.
After this podiatry experiment, Payton stops by to sarcastically thank Rudy for agreeing with Oscar to cut his funding so Dagwit chases after his bro to console, prompting Rudy to ask Jaime to follow them and listen in on their conversation.
And YES, where was this line when Dr. Michael Marchetti was dating his emotionally fragile bionic amnesia patient in The Return of the Bionic Woman?! I demand a rewrite.
Brothers Grimm: Alas, Jaime reluctantly follows them or Rudy will probably cut off her funding, too. Plus he's worried about Payton's attitude and whether he'll steal OSI secrets as payback. So Jaime stands outside their office and eavesdrops on the brothers arguing and trying to up one another on failures and successes yadda yadda and Payton throws files and pencils off his desk to depict his angry rage and vengeful instability.
Jaime leaves when their discussion enters brotherly jealousy territory and she decides it's getting too personal. Dr. Sommers then returns to report to Rudy that Payton is indeed essentially a violent psychopath and menace to society and probably collects My Little Pony's too. So Rudy decides to call Oscar to have him lock up that valuable coding analyzer, stat!
Biofeed Back To The Drawing Board: Time for our next lab test: The amazing Houdini act of being lowered into a tank of water with no oxygen supply. While Dogwood is laying on the platform, Jaime lovingly strokes his hair while she asks if he's having any distracting thoughts.
LOLZ Um Jaime, perhaps you ought NOT be adding to these distractions right now by flirting with Dimwood and incidentally, please please don’t biofeed us a new Not!Steve tonight either because our stomachs are already highly unsettled. Thank you.
May I have your attention please. Have your taped organ substitutions ready kids cuz he's a- goin' under again. Om shanti peace peace cover your eyes and TAaaaPE ! Imagine pretty little hearts. Pretty little hearts. There there.
While meditating, Darwill starts recalling his brother's echoey voice from their argument earlier, which ruins his concentration and breathing, causing him to nearly drown.
Then the pulley thing breaks while Grandpa Lab Man tries to raise him out of the tank so Jaime bionic lifts the rope to save him. On cue, Rudy gets a phone call interruption that Payton has absconded with his precious Ovaltine decoder. Wow, suddenly everything is tanking.
Assignment Auf Wiedersehn: At nightfall in Washington, Jaime is meeting in Oscar's office wearing a new outfit (I love this sweater). Our boss has reason to believe Payton is meeting a buyer named Karp in Halderstadt, Germany that Steve has been investigating while in in Brussels, only The Six Million Dollar Man can't go because he's busy on his own show. So Jaime has to fly immediately to Germany to retrieve the decoder, plus there's a stolen top secret list of OSI agents that could expose Jaime and Steve's names so she has to find that, too.
Derwood overhears her mission details outside Oscar's office and wants to go with the Bionic Woman to get his angry brother but Jaime says NO. She evidently took the very next redeye flight without packing a suitcase, and arrives in Germany which is something like a 9 hour plane ride and by the time she gets her cute yellow Volkswagen Hertz rental car, it is nighttime the next day in Germany and she is still wearing the same outfit. What's a little jet lag—we have missions to accomplish!
Jaime parks the VW, ignores all the HALT DANGER GEFAHR HOCHSPANNUNG signs and makes Rita jump a high voltage fence into enemy territory for her.
Crap, Derwood is there! He has followed Jaime against her orders, wearing a yellow jacket to cross-coordinate with her rental car. To prove he can be a successful spy, too he biofeedbacks himself over the electrocution fence (thankfully without any gross organ visions this time) but then he cuts his arm on a barbed wire so he has to chant "Anesthetize left deltoid muscle" to make it stop bleeding. Anesthetize, anesthetize. He keeps saying that so I keep typing it.
Das Auto: Hey look there's a black Citroën DS 21 car parked nearby so Jaime says they are going to "borrow" it which is a lovely way to commit grand theft auto. (And BTW, I'll have you know I just spent 30 minutes google-researching the maker and model of this funky looking compact Euro-French car because I am pretty sure it is necessary to this plot).
But this *proudly researched* Citroën DS 21 car is parked in front of some border patrol building where shadowy people in the windows have been mumbling German words, so Jaime breaks into the locked car and then she bionic rolls it down the hill while Darrwood steers. Given that locked cars generally don't have the keys carelessly left in them, evidently they had to mentally om shanti the engine to start. I'm sure they cut that scene to spare us from having to see any gross internal carburetor shots.
Because look, now they're driving their quote unquote borrowed Citroën DS 21 down some dark highway, as Jaime reveals her bionics to Derwood and defines them as "biology and electronics" so a-ha, that's why he sensed a microwave signal from her arm earlier—he implores her to please tell him more about it! OH HOW I COMPLETELY ADORE THIS when Jaime responds in an immensely bored, yeah whatever tone with, "I will in a minute." —while she cranks out the antenna on her mini-talkie to radio Oscar. Bug off kid, I'm busy.
"Snow White this is Dopey come in, can you read?" Well of course Oscar can read. Plus he says he can hear her fine, thanks to the bounced satellite communications signal via Munich. (Really, the extra technical detail to explain the clear radio reception wasn't necessary since they just started a car without keys.) Jaime reports she's fine and that "Doc has come along for the ride." Oh so that's where that biofeed guy floundered off to. Oscar then mentions Steve TWO MORE TIMES and says her future husband spied a name of a hotel in Halderstadt that the bad guy hangs out at, so she should go there next. Kay bye!
Get A Room Will Ya: Jaime and Darwhimper arrive and pull their Citroën DS 21 car up in front of the "Hotel Ellrich" in Halderstadt. Conveniently the bad guy Ivan Karp is relaxing outside on the patio reading the paper while he meets another bad guy to talk about killing Payton after they broker the sale of his coding device. While Jaime bionic-listens in, they begin to feel suspicious she's watching them—so to create a distraction, Jaime suddenly grabs Darwin and starts kissing him.
Nooooo Ewwwwwww Jaime QUICK… Anesthetize, anesthetize!
Of course Derwood's all giddy about being romantically jumped by Jaime. When the bad guys drive off, Jaime says he can let GO of her now.
Hurled at the screen in protest: what's left of my stomach contents. While compared to her other flirtations, Jaime's infatuation here appears to be more with Darwin's monk-chanting skills, nevertheless, he must be immortalized (and duly ostracized) as Not!Steve 2.2, the Biofeedback Bro.
I'm Driving This Plot Now: This time Jaime gets to drive the Citroën DS 21. (Which I am purposely overpunctuating in order to justify my vehicle research.) The future Dr. Sommers apologizes to "Dr. Jones" for grabbing him back there, but she gets the sense he's a little shy and possibly a little lonely so she thought he could us a pity kiss. Smittenly, he agrees and blames his reclusiveness for neglecting his brother. When they reach Karp's estate, Jaime pulls over and gives Derwood a stern lecture about the dangers ahead and that she has to do this all by herself and oh by the way they are also planning to kill your brother. This "wall to wall stress" means you'll suck trying to use your biofeedback skills. Alas, Jaime is wasting her lines because Dimsquat's going with her anyway.
What a lovely little pink Downton Abbey-ish estate the bad guys own. But it's highly securitized with live monitors and stuff. Plus it's lake front property, causing Jaime to admit that she does a "fair bionic butterfly, but I don't think this is the time to get my hair wet." Amen sister, because they didn't even bother to budget for a travel suitcase with wardrobe changes. Let’s try to stay dry.
Oops duck, there's a boat on moat patrol, so Jaime decides they'll circle the lake and find another way in.
Tear Jerker: While walking, Derwood can sense an electrical field so he has Jaime bionic throw a rock, which sets off hidden tear gas charges. (Should I give her angry bird points for accurately hitting in the general vicinity of the woods?) Jaime spots a surveillance camera, so they hatch a plan. He's going to biofeed his way through the force field while she bionic runs and dodges camera detection. Which means crap, another Om shanti sequence but this time it's only his skull x-ray concentrating. Whew.
Darwad makes it to the wall, now it's Jaime's turn. Riiiiita! Who makes a valiant effort dodging tear gas bombs going off, but sadly, the Bionic Woman falls and succumbs to the smoke and passes out. So great, another Om shanti peace gross out session while Darwonder goes back to get her.
QUICK tape your heart and some kind of bronchial vein looking thing on the screen NOW while he increases his adrenalin flow.
He rescues Jaime and run-carries her (stunt doll) to safety …and while Jaime's coughing with a delicate hanky she declares everybody needs a good cry now and then. And also an iron stomach would be helpful. *waves white hankie to surrender*
At the great wall, Jaime bionic catapults Derdandy over, then jumps it herself. When they run towards the mansion they get busted by security and Darwin shockingly gets shot. As Jaime is captured, one of the bad guys takes Darwick's pulse and confirms he's dead. But wait, WE can hear him meditating to anesthetize his chest area, so we know he's just faking it.
Biofeed Back After These Messages: Ms. Wagner has frequently mentioned in interviews this is her favorite Bionic Woman episode, and that if the series ever returned, she would prefer to see Jaime Sommers more integrated in this field. She credits biofeedback and similar mind over matter healing techniques with helping to cure her own ulcers when she was younger—an experience that inspired her to introduce this topic into an episode storyline.
However, because of its non-conventional fit for a network series, she indicates it was necessity to bargain with producers and agree to some of the more frivolous episodes (i.e. Fembots) as trade. Today, she helps teach some of these aspects in her "Quiet the Mind" workshops and retreats, and occasionally offers group conference calls, too. (Full disclosure: I like listening in on her conference calls, where you don't really need to be an advanced level participant to get a lot out of them.)
When I wasn't busy covering my eyes the first time I watched this episode in the 70s, I do remember being fascinated by the story concept, so at the very least, I'm sure it inspired me to keep an open mind to alternative medicine. My short attention span means I sorta suck at meditating, but I have no doubt that this practice does actually work for a lot of people. A few years ago I met a medical Qigong (Chinese energetic medicine) practitioner whom I adore, and if faced with a serious illness, I would definitely go see him.
Like Ms. Wagner, I have long believed there is some kind of an energy connection, and the more we can remain stress-free and happy, the healthier we are. Find your zen, whatever it is. This very blog has been a personal outlet for me to challenge the negativity and hate on the internet and try to channel positive, and sometimes completely ridiculous humor. Because laughter is always the best medicine. Followed, naturally, by biofeedback. And if that doesn't work, try chocolate.
O Brother Where Art Thou: After the commercial, Jaime is escorted inside the mansion and bumps into Payton. She takes him to the window overlooking the lake where they're currently dumping the body and informs him that's his brother.
But wait, Payton didn't think anybody would get killed by becoming a traitor. Jaime whisper-warns, "If you decode that list for Karp, a lot of other people are going to be killed INCLUDING SOMEONE WHO IS AS CLOSE TO ME as Darwin was to you." Hmm, might I fathom who that person could be? OTOH, it could just mean Jaime only loves Steve like a brother. So let’s ignore this for the time being, because…
EWWWW, commence more ugly entrails coming as we see Dagwit under water trying to control his breathing and heart rate and anesthetize his bullet wound which is lodged in his rib cage. Oh noooo I don't have a drawing for that. WAIT WAIT! Oh whatev, I'm fast forwarding now plus ignoring the fact that he has happy thoughts of Jaime, too in order to help him stay calm and focused. Finally he fixes his wound, unties himself from his anchor and swims to the surface.
Let's Throw Some Light On This: Consumed with guilt, Payton later storms back into the room to tell Karp he just destroyed the list AND the coding analyzer. Karp hauls off and punches him, Darwin rushes in to jump him for bullying his brother, and the Man Brawl enables Jaime to grab this really hideous iron, outdoor street post-styled living room lamp with cheesy plastic globes to throw it at the bad guys, which earns her 500 angry bird points for the perfect aim take down! Plus another 500 for destroying this lamp. (It was a necessary decorator mercy killing.)
Then our OSI kids all make a run for it and Jaime blocks the bad guys in the room with a furniture armoire. Next, they race outside to greet the helicopter that is landing (transporting the coder buyers), and I love how Jaime cleverly tells them, "Welcome gentlemen! Mr. Karp's gonna meet you himself!" while she directs them towards the house, and then she just hops in the backseat with wounded Derwhiffle while Payton waves a gun at the pilot and orders him to fly them outta there. #Brill
Biofeed Back In Circulation: In the last scene we are back at Rudy's lab in Washington and Derwood is in a wheelchair because he hasn't fully recovered from his bullet wound-induced blood loss. Jaime updates Payton that Oscar is reviewing his traitor case with the Secretary now and she thinks everything will be fine. Darwood is glad because he and Payton could use some time to learn how to become brothers again while he teaches Payton meditation techniques.
Jaime says she's been trying the exercises, too and feels more relaxed and in touch with herself. But Dagwit wants to know if Jaime has been in touch with her stomach because she promised to take him to lunch.
Oh right, Jaime wheels him out and announces she's taking him to eat "cous-cous" which… *fights keyboard* I'm not kidding autocorrect just tried to change, so my sincere apologies to all the am shanti vegetarians—as they will now be having "cows cows" for lunch. On the upside, I suppose it couldn't be any grosser than what I just witnessed, so I hope they order fava beans and a nice Chianti to go with it.
Just 3 wardrobe changes in this episode. For the beginning, a 2 piece tunic-style beige dress belted at the waist, worn with a knit shawl adorned with colorful macrame style tassels—which resurfaces in a scene in 3rd season’s Brain Wash. For her Germany scenes, she wore dark blue bell bottom slacks, and a Native American style horizontal striped sweater with white stitched pocket details and string ties. She may have worn this same light blue cowl neck pullover in The Martians Are Coming.
In the last scene Jaime arrived in what looked like a full length green suede coat. I think she had slacks and a flowery blouse underneath, but the coat and camera angles didn’t reveal much.
Lastly, Jaime wore her enneagram necklace throughout this episode, too.
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