SCORE: 2 out of 4 Tennis Balls
February 23, 1977
Mood Ring: Black
Tonight Jaime had to be an undercover teacher for an Arabian prince and then belly dance for his father in his bedroom. It was gross.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 2x17
The Bionic Woman and I Dream of Jeannie trade places because somebody thought this was a good idea or something.
February 28, 2014
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Sandy Gray
Tonight's episode opens with a Lawrence of Arabia type guy on a high, white horse on the grounds of his palace chopping a hedge with his sword complaining about the gardeners and to his Men's Wearhouse-suited Prime Minister, announcing he doesn't want any bodyguards offered by the Americans they should mind their own business! He's too busy to sign contracts about all his hotel acquisitions and oil pipelines, none of his 4 harem wifely b*tches put forth for selection pleases him for tonight, and his kid isn't studying because his private tutor quit.
And then that's IT? Suddenly the BW credits roll as if we really cared about this pompous king and his cranky attitude. Imma change the channel and see what else is on.
Generally in a series teaser, it's nice to TEASE us with something remotely connected to the Bionic Woman so we feel a reason to stick around. This played out like a bad Persian Rug Outlet commercial.
The Jig Is Up: I had my martini poured and drunken before this one even began, because it helps to curb the furiousness of what one of the writers (and I kid you not—I actually heard him say this in a podcast) referred to as a "jiggle episode." Yup, created on purpose to parade scantily clad women for the gratuitous delight of viewers who demand minimal wardrobe on their chicks. *groan* I ranted about this practice earlier in In This Corner, Jaime Sommers and oh look, what are the odds that the same scriptwriter happened to be involved in both of these episodes? #uncanny
HowEVER, as with Savage Sommers, Imma try my best to try to have a little fun with what still deeply offends me AND my mood ring, and to redeem what I think Jaime was trying to say, even though the lessons failed quite miserably due to the overshadowing "veil of jiggles" scene.
Tonight's drinking game is to take a swig every time Jaime's identity and mission cover is blown. While not unusual for this to eventually occur in many episodes, for some reason this will repeatedly happen over and over again here like an endless Groundhog Day. Jaime should have just worn her company OSI badge upfront, except sadly there would have been NO PLACE TO PIN IT.
Ready, set, seriously. This might be a good time to go organize my closet instead: At least we are in exciting Monte Carlo tonight, where Oscar has flown Jaime in to discuss her next mission. Except he has to keep being distracted by women in bikinis prancing around his table on the terrace of some restaurant.
Jaime arrives approximately 3 minutes late for her show wearing a nice business suit and skirt with her hair pulled back in a barrette. I love it when she asks Oscar why she's "dressed like Mary Poppins, when everybody else is wearing postage stamps?"
Oscar thinks Jaime is suitably dressed for her new position as a tutor for the crowned prince "Ishmael" son of Ali Ben Affleck Something Zeem, shah of some rich Persian Gulf Oil nation. Jaime protests because she doesn't like to use her personal teaching degree as an OSI cover. (And besides, let's be honest. You are forcing her to play a GOVERNESS again, and we all know this really means "child exorcisms.")
Baywatch: When Oscar gets distracted again watching these flirty women in bikinis walk by, Jaime asks them to "leave my father alone, please," followed by loudly telling Oscar that, "Mother promised me you would take the grandchildren just as soon as they got home from college this weekend."
Jaime then bionic-bends the patio umbrella to impede Oscar's view of their bikinis. Yessss! 250 Angry Bird Points for the block, and another 150 bonus points for publicly vetoing the Oscar/Jaime shippers! (Minus 50 for the math, because if the fictitious grandchildren in college whereof she speaks are supposed to be her kids, she would have been giving birth at like age 10.)
The Closing Bell: Oscar suddenly boringly switches the channel to CNBC to explain Opec oil price-per-barrel stuff and how this shah king guy may vote to bypass bigger profits in order to help keep prices low at the pump—a potential decision that is angering other oil producing countries who want to jack up the price to purposely harm the US economy. So somebody wants to assassinate King Crank and possibly his son Ishmael so Jaime can't you see you could be saving this boy's life! Plus oh by the way he's also the Karate Kid so your bionics are necessary to fight him off.
A clash of cultures, a royal family in need of a modern, Western teacher, with an unyielding, unlikable king? Yay, we're gonna do a musical tonight!
At this point, the absence of any perfect punchline jokes by Jaime about the familiar Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The King and I serves as a glaring admission from the writers they ripped this plot as far as they could take it. No worries, we never even noticed. I don't know who typed this paragraph.
Fresh Prince: Jaime arrives at the palace carrying her signature red traveling suitcase. She announces herself as Miss Sommers, the Pompous Prince's tutor, and is led down a hotel-like hallway to wait. When she overhears the boy b*tch-slapping a servant, she barges into his study.
Ishmael, played by then-popular child star Lance Kerwin, is essentially a spoiled brat. And he's astounded that this Jaime woman dared shake his hand to introduce herself and doesn't appreciate her scolding him for almost striking his servant who defied his order. Lady, in my palace, servant abuse is way more fun than playing with Legos.
Royal Flush: The king walks in just as the boy was about to karate-chop his new teacher. Ismael orders Jaime to observe their customs and to "Bow, WOMAN!" Jaime's like WTF, bow? I love how, in defiance, she just barely lowers her head, and then the king makes her twirl around for him so he can check her out. When Jaime hesitates, he orders her to "Do as you're told, woman!"
Of course we all feel completely humiliated for the Bionic Woman instantly being dismantled of any respect. Then the king has to go meet with his new-hire privately to explain her place in society, her 401K plan and what subjects she must teach.
But wait father, beckons the starving-for-daddy's-approval Prince. First he wants to show him he can karate-break 2 boards! Whatever says the King, here, I can macho-ly break 4 boards plus crush a Budweiser can on my forehead, so you will never be a man until you are as strong as ME! Now go watch Spike TV or something, kid.
Stepford Wives: Out on the patio the King introduces Jaime to his group of wives. Jaime reacts with a shocking grin, like OMG what is this, Utah?
The king explains their law allows for a maximum of 4 wives, but he gets to have dancing girls and concubines, too. (The subject of gay marriage did not come up so I don't know how many husbands he is allowed to keep.)
The King boasts, "A woman's place has been clearly defined… and see that's why women are so content in our country, they know their place."
He professes to Jaime that, "Western men have never known how to handle their women. But then your culture rarely produces any real men any longer, isn't that true?" EXCUSE ME SIR YOU HAVE NOT MET COLONEL STEVE AUSTIN HAVE YOU.
Jaime argues that yeah, well American men "still seem to get the job done." (especially when they follow my instructions on how to do it right.)
Okay stop everything what ARE these round disc thingies the king is multi-task approving while he's talking to Jaime… dinner plates with his face on them? Giant coins to be minted? Commemorative King Frisbees? We need context, people!
Board of Education: After orientation, Jaime returns to Ishmael's study, who complains he doesn't want book learning he just wants to be better, stronger, faster like his dad. Jaime makes him a deal. If she can out-karate both him AND his manly father by breaking SIX boards, he has to agree to study, capisce? Natch, the Bionic Woman easily bionic-smashes 6 boards, earning her 100 Angry Bird Points. Ishmael is shocked and wants to know how she did that. Miss Sommers says that's your first lesson, kid.
So now the prince has to study Scandinavian geography and agrees to start calling her Jaime because she requests that "it's a lot nicer than woman.” The young prince decides Jaime is special and is beginning to like her now.
A short while later we see the King's second-hand man, the Prime Minister, on the phone scheming with somebody to have his royal highness assassinated so he can take control of the country and raise the prince and the price of oil himself.
Snow White and the 7 Ali Babas: Meanwhile Jaime's in her room unpacking and grabs her mini-talkie to report in to Oscar. "Snow White this is Frumpy, do you read me?" Aw, Oscar extols she couldn't be frumpy if she tried. 'sup?
Jaime updates she bionic-overheard the king's gonna vote against the oil price hike which means they'll definitely try to kill him tonight. I'm on it 'kay bye!
Jaime no sooner hangs up than Ishmael comes bursting into her room, because his royal privilege means never having to knock, and he demands to know what Jaime is hiding behind her back at once! DRINK, because she's totally BUSTED. The prince charges she is nothing but a spy and he regrets trusting her. Guards come take her away!
Wow Jaime, congrats! Your mission and cover is officially busted just 20 minutes into this episode. Woo-hoo, I'm awarding her 500 points for breaking what may be a record. Too bad we can't just go home now because I've really seen all I care to of this plot anyway. *hums Getting To Know You*
What Better Time To Discuss... Goats: Jaime instantly confesses to the King and Prince she's with the OSI and merely wanted to help them from getting killed. The King goes on some diatribe about goat milk, wolves and lambs (Whereupon I decided to leave and check my Twitter feed) then eventually he gets to the part where he doesn't want Jaime's help, waves a sword at her and throws her out of his Palace Hotel. I think we are done here, don't you Jaime? Let's go hit the Monte Carlo casinos!
Nope. Because on her way out Jaime overhears the Prime Minister plotting to plant a bomb, so she calls Oscar from a street pay phone and declares she's not gonna let that boy get hurt. That night, she changes into her lovely pullover sweater last seen in Bionic Beauty, then has Rita stunt- scale the fence and leap up to a second story window.
Window Dressing: From the ledge, Jaime peeping-toms a harem dancer warming up. (Hey guess what, this Prime Minister's dancing girl nicknamed "Emerald" is played by Annette Cardona—who was also in Canyon of Death and later, Grease. )
When she leaves, Jaime sneaks into her room and for whatever reason that was never entirely made clear, decides she really needs to change and borrow this woman's extra dancing uniform that wardrobe conveniently laid out for her on the bed. O LAWDY. Suddenly it cuts to Jaime sneaking into the hall wearing this sparkly, bikini-style, I Dream of Jeannie™ costume. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Quick Jaime, back in your bottle!
Ishmael catches Jaime sleuthing in the hall and rips off her veil. OMG Jaime, ONCE AGAIN YOU ARE BUSTED. (Drink!!) Take a hint and call it a day, okay? Jaime drags the prince into a room and explains the assassination plot. Because he won't believe her, she pulls a metal shield off the wall and punches her fist through it. See? She could have bionic'd his face in a long time ago if her true mission had been to harm the royal family. Or something.
So the prince decides to help her go look for the deadly bomb in the Prime Minister's office, but then the King walks in on them and it suddenly cuts to commercial before we decide to count this as the THIRD TIME JAIME GETS BUSTED. Obviously I'm going to need a calculator to keep up. And a taller drink.
Lifting the Veil: Jaime tries keeping her head down under her veil hoping the King won't recognize her. After a couple of wink-winks from daddy on his son scoring himself a private dancer, Ishmael tries to cover for Jaime and introduces her as a renowned talent and that she can perfectly do the "Dance of the Veils." Oh really? The King decides he needs a private audition from this private dancer in his private chambers. Ew.
Meanwhile the evil Prime Minister sets the little bomb timer and he places it under the King's bed pillow. In the hall en route, Jaime whispers to Ishmael that no, not every woman knows how to do this stupid dance of the veils he nominated her for and remarks that his father "has gained more misinformation about women than any man I have ever met." Ah-hahaha!
Multiple Choice: A guard escorts Jaime into his majesty's chambers to wait, where she immediately bionic hears the bomb ticking. But before she can find it, the King walks in and startles her.
Okay here's an idea employing a bit of common sense when one hears a ticking bomb. Especially with no visible timer or countdown to know exactly how many minutes or seconds before it's going to detonate and turn you into a pizza topping.
Apparently the writers have also gained a lot of misinformation about women, most notably our ability to THINK. Because right now it's clearly more important we not deprive viewers of this next, COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY, sexually gratuitous scene. Whereupon I must once again die of embarrassment for Jaime, and wish that I could just throw a robe over her while screaming at my television,
STOP LOOKING AT MY SISTER LIKE THAT!!!!
Back After These Ranting Messages: It's not like I don't accept the widespread, shallow objectification of women as sex objects that was common in many shows of this era. Or that I’m not completely okay with women who are pole dancers by choice. But this was NOT the weekly framework for The Bionic Woman series. Which is why a lot of girls like me idolized Jaime Sommers, because she was helping to redefine the stereotype for a new generation.
But then the producers would suddenly flip a switch without warning and do something like THIS to Jaime once or twice a season, and each time it felt like a kick in the gut and two steps back in gender equality. The mixed message inconsistency was *deer in headlights* confusing, and this episode probably jarred me the most.
Network smoke-filled room of men: Hey let's contrive a mission where the Bionic Woman must submit to men as a concubine, but place it in a culture where this is permissible therefore we can enjoy this sexual fantasy without recrimination. Excuse me, but bullsh*t. And I've never used that word in my blog before so you KNOW they blew a gasket on the Bionic Blonde's Meter of Forgiveness.
I'm not even going to bother to describe what happens in this scene …or the demeaning way in which Jaime is forced to belly dance scantily-clothed for this horny King. And this is in no way a criticism of Ms. Wagner's dancing talents which I think are actually quite good, although she was quoted as feeling "mortified" about having to do this scene. As far as I am concerned, this never happened, because the Bionic Woman I choose to remember deserved more respect.
As my friend Kristin observed, this was like that 1983 Star Wars scene when Princess Leia—wearing a similar costume—was enslaved by Jabba the Hutt. Only like Leia, I wish Jaime had also been allowed to personally choke her drooling slug later as payback.
Bombs Away: Oh look, Jaime's final move in her dance of the veils is to ballet-ishly reach down and grab the ticking bomb out from under the pillow, whereupon she bionic-hurls it out the window nano-seconds before it explodes. 250 Angry Concubine Points! And her cover is now blown AGAIN, (Drink!) whereupon she turns to the King and explains okay this is why she came back to his palace. By my watch, she could have accomplished this very same bomb rescue/confession procedure almost 3 minutes ago, BEFORE this utterly pointless dance of the veils. Whatev.
Upon hearing the explosion, the Prime Minister and his contingent burst onto the scene. The King doesn't believe Jaime could have heard this bomb, which can only mean she's probably the one who planted it. So he orders his guards to lock her up! (But thanks for the cheap thrills, babe. How 'bout a lap dance later?)
Well, Shoot: The Prime Minister decides to go to plan B and grabs his gun. They'll just shoot the King instead and frame Jaime for his murder—during his welcoming speech at the royal dinner he's hosting for all the other greedy oil country shahs tonight. Catering provided by KFC. BYOB.
Ishmael goes to the room where Jaime is being detained. He shouts for her outside the door—a teamwork signal that inspires her to bionic-whack the guard in her room while Ishmael karate-chops the guard outside. But Miss Sommers, Ishmael says, this man does not have the key! Jaime says not to worry kid, she does, and then she proceeds to bionic kick and punch her way through the door. 200 points! Now c'mon let's go save your father…
Just then they are blocked in the hall by one of the Prime Minister's sword-wielding thugs, at least I think he is because he's really dressed more like he works for the caterers. Ishmael tosses Jaime a sword, and OMG now suddenly we've regressed into Pirates of the Caribbean. All hands on deck, mateys!
Don't Fence Me In: Seriously when did Jaime learn to sword fight like a Ninja Turtle, because she's really quite good! I guess utilizing her skills chopping vegetables in the kitchen, she bionic-Zorros this guy down the hall where they do all the cliché moves like slicing candelabras, nearly falling over a balcony, and then down the staircase with fancy fencing footwork. (I’m just full of F-words tonight.)
When this guy knocks Jaime's sword out of her hand, she just smashes his in half with her bionic hand. He's stunned and decides she must be a "demon!" and runs away. Yeah, well. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and forced to sword fight in a skimpy costume. Angry Ninja Score: 500 points. Cowabunga, girl!
Okay so down to the Aladdin press club dinner already in progress, where the King has just taken the podium and the Prime Minister is hiding behind the curtain ready to shoot him. Jaime takes her sword and javelin-throws it to cut the curtain rope and expose the assassin. (300 points for her perfect aim!) The prince then karate chops the gun out of the bad guy's hand. Naturally daddy is proud and tells his son he really IS a man, after all. Jaime expresses tears of joy, or maybe it's simply relief that she can finally change out of this &#!@)# wardrobe.
Final Curtain: In the last scene Jaime's wearing a lovely brown dress, as she leads Ishmael by hand to meet his father on the palace patio to wrap this up. The king hates to admit he never thought he'd learn so much from a woman. He wants to know what he can do to reward Jaime for doing this episode.
The Bionic Woman says for starters he can stop making his wives bow to him. Done! The king tells his spouse that from now on, she can stand tall with dignity in his presence—no more subservience. His wife glances over to Jaime with a smile. Wow, thanks for the human rights!
Since that constitutional amendment was so easy, Jaime then suggests that perhaps he also shouldn't have so many wives. Everybody laughs. "Please Miss Sommers, leave some progress for the NEXT generation," the king adds with a grin. Which would be funny. Except Taliban. And still too many other nations and cultures where women—not to mention people of various races, religious beliefs or sexual preferences—continue to suffer oppression and are denied equal, human rights.
Final Tally: While I do appreciate the efforts to balance the lessons in this episode, unfortunately it was all for naught when the very heroine leading the moral charge was herself forced to submit. The message was loud and clear. More than three decades later with an entertainment industry that continues to be disproportionately driven by men, I am still waiting for the day we can finally end of our dance of the veils.
Jaime sported 4 outfits in this episode. In the opening scenes, a 2-piece bluish-gray suit with matching pleated midi skirt, worn over a white blouse with a sewn-in collar necktie. For her palace break-in, we were treated to a repeat performance of this nice, red & black-striped pullover sweater and black slacks, last seen in Bionic Beauty. This time paired with a white collared shirt underneath.
And then came the infamous harem costume—a sequined bikini with a silver coin-themed headband & earrings, draped in a sheer black head veil plus skirt. For the last scene, Jaime wore a gorgeous brown, multi-patterned smock dress with an elastic v-neck.
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