SCORE: 2 out of 4 Tennis Balls
March 26, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Yellow
The actual title of this was Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Which makes it like the second longest title in TV movie history. But I guess the first bionic reunion movie must have pulled some decent television ratings, because within two years, NBC called our crazy kids back to the set and put together another one with veteran bionic series director Alan J. Levi. Hooray for us!
Despite the failed attempt in the first movie to spin-off a new bionic franchise series featuring Steve's son Michael, this time they wired in a new bionic girl to see if we'd buy that instead.
Nope. Guess we still just preferred our trusty older computer models.
Practical Magic: Bionic Showdown opens pretty much the same as the last movie—a traditional repeat of Steve and Jaime's tragic pilot and skydiving accidents, vintage clips of bionic graphics and 70s slow motion, followed by some scenes from tonight. And then introducing our new bionic girl, played by newcomer Sandra Bullock, who suffers her terrible accident: tipping over in her wheelchair at a family picnic. (Just kidding.)
But I did wonder—had this been a successful franchise spin-off—how they planned to dramatically open the new Bionic Girl series each week to explain. She was the first person to have the surgery as the result of a long standing congenital disease. Well. The drama in this story has already gotten off to a slow start. But I did appreciate they at least attempted to come up with a different idea.
The rest of the story I thought was fair, but Steve and Jaime were in diminished roles this time around so that most of the energy could be devoted to launching the new characters. In the end, in this viewer's opinion, Steve and Jaime still put out more volts on screen than the rest of the characters combined.
Divine Secrets: By 1989, it appears our bionic sweethearts Steve and Jaime have both deserted L.A. and moved to the Washington DC area. (Oh they are SO already married.) Jaime’s hair has grown back to shoulder length, and she has a big house in the 'burbs. And Steve still owns his charter fishing boat.
Jaime appeared to be working (at least part time) in the therapy field since she helped Kate mentally and physically prepare for her bionics. Jaime made some reference to "not having a class start for another two weeks," but they never really explained if that meant she had gone back to teaching, too—or if she was a student herself, perhaps working on her Ph.D. Inquiring minds want to know!
The Bionic Burlington Coat Factory Movie: One thing’s for sure, I have NEVER seen Jaime wear this many coats before. This movie was shot on location in Toronto, Canada. In the dead of winter. Brrr. Gloves, mittens, scarfs, chattering teeth. And that was just me trying to watch them suffer through these frigid temperatures with all their California tans.
Anyway, when it is revealed throughout the course of this movie just how many different coats Jaime owns, you'll understand why she needs a two-story house now. She had another very nice wardrobe tonight, and the clothing and soundtrack music in this one did not feel as dated as the movie they produced just 2 years earlier. (This is the part where I peek in my own closet in total denial that I still have some of my clothes from this era.)
Dwarf Delusions: In the first act, we see a rather bitter Oscar wearing a tux at a black tie Washington party with a "World Unity Games" (WUG) banner hanging over the dance floor. He's complaining to some guy, declaring he "didn't spend 30 years behind an OSI desk pushing pencils or shoving pins into 3rd world hot spots. I was out on the field! I was out in the action!" (Ha ha, really? Snow White to Grumpy: I beg to differ.) Oscar's apparently getting pressure from the government higher-ups to shake up (or shut down) the OSI and retire him out to pasture.
Steve arrives spiffed in a tux, too—planning to propose to Jaime tonight for the benefit of viewer ratings and hoping to get Oscar's advice on how to ask her. While rumors abound and everybody already knows he's going to pop the question (because they saw the network promos, too,) the other rumor circulating is that Steve has agreed to handle security for the WUG on behalf of the OSI. While this is going on, in another part of this Pentagon building, some bad guys wearing Nixon masks are breaking in and stealing top secret intelligence.
DDG: The Bionic Woman was only 7 minutes late for her movie tonight. A big improvement that I'll credit to dating an astronaut who lives by precise 3-2-1 countdowns.
She's mingling with the deputy director of the CIA. During the course of their banter, we learn he knows that she's bionic, and that Jaime doesn't trust him as far as she could actually throw him. (Even when she got the chance to later.)
As soon as Steve hears Jaime looks "DDG" this evening, he tracks her down to find out for himself. Yes she is Drop Dead Gorgeous, in a full length black satin evening gown with a stand up collar (drink!), her hair is coiled up in a bun and she's wearing some Tiffany-dangly-sparkly earrings in the shape of ropes. (Could this be a subliminal, 'let’s tie the knot' message for Steve?)
Jaime is also wearing arm-length, magenta pink opera gloves that, incidentally, nicely match her pink lipstick. But something about this gown-with-gloves combination here seemed eerily familiar to me.
Oh yeah, just add a punkish, half black/ half white hairdo and put a cigarette holder in Jaime's hand, and meet … Cruella De Vil ! Perhaps this explains why Steve is so nervously stammering while he's trying to propose tonight. Did he see Jaime check a Dalmatian puppy fur coat at the door?
The Blind Side-ed: Waltzing on the dance floor with Jaime, Steve tries to go through his rehearsed proposal, citing lines they said in the last movie at the restaurant (drink!) after escaping Fortress, about getting to know each other better, but keeps stuttering his way through it.
She tries to help him along with a bit of romantic teasing, but right when he finally gets to "Jaime, will you….?" Da-da-da-da... he spies with his bionic eye some security guards reporting the break-in to Oscar, and promptly ditches her mid-sentence. (MEN. Always more interested in action movies!) Poor Jaime stands alone, abandoned on the dance floor and admits out loud, "Well I might. But you have to ask."
Sigh. With those on-screen sparks effectively doused, we then cut to someone else's idea of action where Snow White Oscar makes the mistake of going out in the field with the other Dwarfs and gets thrown through a window onto the Pentagon lawn trying to stop the bad guys. With a joint army of tuxedo'd guys and marines, there's lots of shooting, machine guns and explosions, but the bandits’ helicopter still gets away. An unconscious Oscar has cuts and bruises on his face by the time Steve reaches him.
Miss Congeniality: In the next scene Jaime visits our new bionic girl Kate Mason at the Washington OSI facility. Due to a muscular disease, Kate has been disabled since she was 6 years old, and has apparently already gone through a series of surgeries with Rudy involving "thousands of nuclear capillaries stitched into her veins." (Seriously Jaime, you might want to keep your distance here. This girl's a walking WMD!)
But she's a little scared about going through the final step today where Rudy flips the Frankenstein switch to make her bionic, so Jaime gives her a pep talk, reminding Kate that unlike all the other bionic TV characters, she got to choose this for herself on the front end.
Kate argues, "But what if I'm NOT a Jaime Sommers?" to which the legendary Bionic Woman replies, "Hey, they don't want a clone of me okay? They couldn't handle it. They've had too many problems with me over the years!" Ha ha. Why do I get the feeling that line was intended on more than one level?
Back After These Messages: It doesn't take long to recognize that Sandra Bullock and Lindsay Wagner share a similar, breezy style of acting when they play lighter scenes and character roles. A kind of spontaneous, effervescent quality where you half expect they might turn and wink at the camera at any moment. Having this rare opportunity to watch them play off one another—and for a little while, get to see a bit of the early, whimsical Jaime come back to us in these generally more serious reunion movies—is a welcomed treat.
In another five years, Bullock would apply this same affable (and by then, more seasoned) acting gift to the role of an accidental bus driving heroine in Speed, endearing her to movie audiences and game-changing her career as a Hollywood lead.
Whenever a scene calls for serious drama, both Ms. Wagner and Bullock know how to step up to the plate—although I would wager it took Bullock a few more years and the right kind of roles to tap into her talent; at 25 years old here, this was only her second gig. But when it isn't necessary to play hard ball, they genuinely seem to be having some fun through their characters. And I have always really liked that about them both.
Hope Floats; She's A-livvvvvvve! It really was like a Frankenstein flashback where Rudy and team were working on Kate in the lab and strapped this special brain zapping gear on her in front of a screening room full of Washington suits.
Of course while this is happening, Rudy has decided to shoot a documentary within a movie of the week, and he turns to the camera to give us all an exposition on how they fitted Kate with azoranian bone lengthening braces and electro stimulative techniques to make the bone "stronger than anything in the world." The recipe then calls for inserting thousands of small nuclear capillaries, circuits monitored by computers, dendrites, sunnaptic buttons… Ahhhhhhhh! (When the camera cut to Jaime with a puzzled look on her face, thankfully I didn't feel so bad. Bionic Blondes, unite!) But the director really needed to cut again, FAST, because I am sure by now all this techno-babble is probably making any real scientists out there watching this laugh hysterically, so best not to dig this plausibility hole any deeper. Somebody cut Rudy off. NOW!
Right on cue, the camera cut to Steve in a brown Mercedes Benz 450SL (Woo-hoo! but not Jaime's old car, hers was a white convertible model) pulling into the OSI compound gates. He is "late for Rudy Wells in building 10." (So much for his disciplined astronaut timekeeping—apparently Jaime is rubbing off on him now, too.)
But they won't let him in, because his security clearance has been put on "ground level green." Oh how embarrassing—like having your Visa card rejected. Turns out that both he and Jaime are suspects in that Pentagon break-in the other night, where someone with bionic strength using tornado sound effects was seen tossing people around.
Oh They Are SO Already Married: So Jaime and Steve get locked in a holding cell, and I loved how Jaime is nagging on Steve here to stop pacing the room because he's making her nervous. Steve says he's "paying her back for all those times she made him nervous... which probably started back when they carved their initials on that tree ten years ago."
(Hmm... I'll let Jaime nag him about his incorrect math later. Snicker.) But it was a fun dialogue scene that got rudely interrupted by General McAllister barging in and grilling them on their whereabouts the night of the crime, saying "as far as I'm concerned, nobody is Snow White." <--- He totally said that. Jaime didn't even giggle, but I did.
When the guards and everybody leave, Jaime and Steve decide to break out through the iron bars in the window, run across the compound and then very cutely hold hands while they jump over the wall to escape. Aren't they just adorable?
Yeah, Other Plot Stuff: Oscar's nephew, Jimmy Goldman, an Olympic trained hurdler or something plus a comedian or something plus a part time employee on Steve's boat or something— is sweet on Kate Mason, whom he has known since they were in high school. OSI Agent Alan Devlin has the hots for Kate, too. So there's this little love triangle going on, but unfortunately doesn't spark much character chemistry, especially when you compare it to that other bionic love story.
Sorry to give it away this early, but Devlin turns out to be the bionic bad guy, plus the CIA dude Jaime didn’t like was a turncoat, too. I found it a little amusing how shocked everybody was at the notion there could be a traitor within the OSI. My god, that hasn't happened since…. the last movie!
Steve's (hopefully insured) charter boat gets blown up with Jimmy on it, Oscar and nephew Jimmy pretend he's paralyzed as a result of the explosion, but when the General refuses to approve the funding to make him bionic, Oscar quits very melodramatically.
While You Were Sleeping: Then grumpy Oscar ties one on at the Watergate Hotel bar and Jaime and Steve have to bring him home and put him to bed. While he's passed out upstairs in Jaime's house, downstairs, Kate Mason is preparing for her future role in The Net by hacking the OSI database and googling the code name “Volkov” on Jaime's home computer.
The bionic bad guy sedates and kidnaps Oscar upstairs, but Steve and Kate are powerless against his super bionic strength. Later Steve gets permission to put Kate and Jimmy undercover at the World Unity Games to find out who the assassination target is and where Oscar is being held captive.
Don't You Just Love Crossover Episodes? Hooray, Jaime and Steve go back into official OSI action handling security at the WUG in Toronto! Jaime starts out with the exciting assignment of being asked to walk around the parking garage like 10 times with a group of security guys. But she earns a promotion later when she bionically overhears Oscar's clever pen-tapping morse code he sneaks in while the kidnappers make him call with a message. They figure out his location in some nearby mansion, Steve crashes through the window and Jaime kicks down a door, and they apprehend all the bad guys and rescue Oscar.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Meanwhile, as Steve and Jaime are racing back to the coliseum, Kate is competing in like the 100-meter race, and when she's not busy sticking out her tongue at the female Russian sprinter like a good bionic role model for kids, she spots both the bomb and Devlin about to blow up the Russian foreign minister in his box seats.
Kate bionically shot-puts the remote out of Devlin's hand, they chase and push each other around a lot and wind up on the roof of the building, where Kate pulls a big sheet of metal out from under his feet and sends him sailing off the top of the building several stories down to the pavement. Ouch. Death by pancake.
The Proposal: Everybody gathers at the restaurant to toast their successful mission. The General arrives with a congratulatory message from then-president George H.W. Bush, tells Oscar his job is secure as long as he wants it, and then everybody scrams because they know it's the end of the movie and they made viewers sit though this entire thing waiting for this marriage proposal… so let’s get on with it, shall we?
Steve stutters through his rehearsed "We've known each other a long, long time" speech again and Jaime is like, O brother, we don't have time for this, the credits are about to roll… and finally just interrupts Steve and asks, "Why don't we get married?" He smiles and nods, they kiss, and cheers!!
It's another blissfully happy ending for our bionic sweethearts. Squee!
Of course it wasn't entirely a happy ending for everybody, because sadly this show pilot didn't get picked up by NBC. Which meant they had to tear up the future television series contract clause for America's new bionic girl. With this opportunity-of-a-lifetime lost, I feel certain this charming little actress named Sandra Bullock will never amount to anything.
Coats, coats, coats! I counted 5 different coats tonight on Jaime, and only 6 different outfits—not nearly as many wardrobe changes as the last flick. But lots of nice black (which I love!) plus a smashing dark green suit ensemble, too. Of course the evening gown with gloves was the best, even if Jaime’s opera gloves did remind me a little of classic Cruella De Vil.
BTW, these famous magenta pink opera gloves are in the possession of a notable Bionic Woman memorabilia collector now, and Jaime’s original OSI badge prop used in the filming of this movie is being safely guarded by its owner, too. While I have never had the inclination (nor the space) to acquire things like this myself, it always makes me happy to learn some items from The Bionic Woman’s wardrobe are being saved for posterity, protected under maximum security and displayed in makeshift shrines—where their owners can bow down and worship them every night.
Well. That’s what *I* would do.
BIONIC REUNION TV MOVIE 1989
April 30, 1989
Mood Ring: Still missing.
Hey, there was another Bionic TV reunion movie tonight! I’m so glad to know I’m apparently not the only fan still out there in the world that remembers these shows—there must be some others or they wouldn’t keep making these movies. But mostly I was happy to see Jaime and Steve get engaged again. Except they kept teasing us with that part while a bunch of other Bionic people and plots were running around.
Tomorrow I’m going to buy a CD player. Of course now that I have all my favorite albums on cassette they would invent a new format! LPs, 8-Tracks, Cassettes.... next thing you know they’ll have us start playing songs on miniature computers with headphones. A-hahahahahahaha! (This bionic stuff will never happen.)
OH PROPOSE ALREADY
Will one of you please get down on bended bionic knee?
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