SCORE: 2 out of 4 Tennis Balls
May 4, 1977
Mood Ring: Green
Tonight there was a silly old burglar man with a monkey on the Bionic Woman. It was the last one of the season, but I can’t wait for Jaime to come back in the fall with better episodes! I bet they will have Jaime and Steve get back together and go on more missions, too.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 2x22
PLANET OF THE APES
Jaime wraps up her awesome second season with a cast of goofus thieves and a monkey for co-stars. Thanks, world.
December 14, 2014
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Yellow
Banana Brains: A condition by which an exhausted Bionic Woman cast and crew opt to end their season by dropping a chimp plus a bunch of clichéd bad guys into the plot. To be clear this wasn't necessarily a bottom rung episode (way better than some 3rd season equivalents), but it did harbor a cornball tone that came very close to tarnishing our last childhood memories of Jaime Sommers.
See despite decent Nielsen ratings, ABC shockingly decided to cancel The Bionic Woman series soon after this episode aired. Yeah thanks a lot Inky and Ralph.
But then sometime over the summer, NBC invited Jaime to come on over to the Peacock channel, so there she began her 3rd and final season on Saturday nights—where that time Jaime was graciously given a pink slip in advance. Thusly, with the incorporation of more a dignified polar bear instead of a monkey, we got the first-rate On The Run for her bionic swan song. Whew!
We plan to treat Once A Grief Thief like a 2nd season wrap party, because. Party. First gather ingredients for carrot cake because WOO HOO! we are ceremoniously baking with Jaime in her Bionic Betty Crocker kitchen again!! Then fire up your blender for Banana Ralph Daiquris. And ferrr cornsakes hide your stash of bourbon from Jaime. (More on this later)
Ready? Set. BAR! Yes, we open this one in a bar, which in my rating book instantly starts us off with a perfect 4 tennis balls! (Don't worry, we start to drop them fast.)
Here, a has-been thief named "Inky" is downing shots, making EXTREME-OVER-THE-TOP-SHOCK!™ faces and having flashbacks of the Bionic Woman throwing and smashing a perfectly good bottle of booze at his getaway car. In a subsequent flashback scene, Jaime also pushes Helen's flowery 70s sofa at him. He laments to the bartender named Sully that "some kind of super woman" attacked him! (Well at least she was on time for her show tonight, which I think is super.)
Surre… Sully cuts off the old man’s booze and tells him da boss Calvin wants to see him. (You can always tell da bad guys by da way dey use da gangsta tawk.) Fortunately old man “Inky” can understand this accent, because he's perfectly played by Elisha Cook who appeared in many notable Hollywood gangsta films like the Maltese Falcon. He leaves and heads down a dark alley and knocks on a speakeasy-style warehouse door labeled "All American Unclaimed Freight." Upon recognition by the bouncer with his valid Sam’s Club membership card, he’s given entry.
Attention Fence-Mart Shoppers: Suddenly we are inside the local outlet of stolen goods fencing. I love how this warehouse is set up like a bustling department store with shoppers browsing stolen merchandise while the intercom pages for employees to report to the mezzanine level.
Then suddenly I feel immense sadness for the local police department that something this effing HUGE, lovingly referred to as the "Largest fencing operation on the West Coast" could operate so easily undetected, despite the number of people who shop there.
Within, we meet an array of burglars and thieves trying to peddle their stolen inventory of TVs and CB Radios to Fence-Mart General Manager, Calvin. Inky's employee evaluation witt Da Boss doesn't go so well, because he was apparently advanced a $200 paycheck but didn't deliver any goods. C’mon Calvin, give an ole shoplifter a break.
CLEANUP IN AISLE 7: Inky proceeds to explain how he was targeting a ranch outside of Ojai belonging to the Elgins, because he knew they were out of town for a few days so it was gonna to be an easy score. (Helen sweetie, don't you know you should NEVER post vacation photos on Facebook?) And then just as Inky started to nab Helen and Jim's precious silver, Jaime caught his burglary in progress and yelled "Hey!" and pushed the 300 pound sofa at him followed by the angered exclamation, "What do you think you're doing here?!" And then she pulled up a rug and tripped him.
So inquiring minds want need to know. How did we get from this Elgin home burglary encounter to Jaime throwing a brand new unopened liquor bottle at Inky’s car? (See screen grab because yes I will literally stop the DVD to notice these important details.) While unfortunately not filmed for us, according to Inky's report, "There was a table there with a lot of bottles on it, so I dumped it to slow her down,"
Consequently, I can only interpret this to mean:
1) The Elgins had some sort of a bar cart set-up stocked with liquor—including some vintages so prized, Helen tied bows on them.
2) Jaime had been hosting a wild party at Helen and Jim's house while they were away and a bunch of booze was left on the dining room table and yes she is SO grounded for this.
It remains a mystery to me why Jaime conveniently doesn't report any of Inky’s departing "bottle damage" to the police officer—simply mentioning the bent gate latch outside as the only casualty in this foiled burglary attempt. Nevertheless, let’s bring up the...
Score Board: For Jaime's signature perfect bionic aim nailing Inky's car with a bottle of booze, she is hereby awarded 100 Angry Bird points. WOO-HOO! But then she is promptly withdrawn 100 Angry Bourbon points for wasteful and improper use of liquor, resulting in a net of zero.
Where was I? Oh yeah, for his unbelievable tale and for reeking of alcohol, Inky gets fired by Da Boss man. So Inky stomps off and declares he will prove he isn't a crazy drunk while we enjoy these commercials for Budweiser beer.
I Spy: The next day outside the Bionic Woman’s coach house, Inky uses a spy telescope while hiding in the bushes and observes Jaime in an awesome dark brown clothing ensemble. And oh yeah she selectively tells the investigating Ojai police officer about the attempted burglary and (well SOME of…) the damage last night.
When the cop leaves, Jaime bends back the iron gate latch before she jumps into her 280-Z and races off to school. Inky then breaks into her apartment to find a reminder note on her counter that says "TEACHERS' MEETING @ 7:30 TONIGHT BRING CARROT CAKE." Jotted down in ALL CAPS, so she was apparently experiencing some rage about the after-hours commitment plus having to bake for her colleagues.
Now that Inky is privy to Jaime's evening plans, he decides to set a few traps to test her super woman strength. He finds a ladder to climb up on her roof and bend her antenna (Yeesh, I had forgotten how humongoid these things really were back in the day, and yet we still only got 3 TV stations) and then Inky ties a rope from the bumper of his car to a barnyard fence post and pulls away to break it.
All the while, he is being watched by an ordinarily nocturnal owl in bright daylight that keeps hooting at him. (Perhaps the 24- hour presence of this predatory bird could explain why the Elgins never seem to have any chickens on their farm.)
But the Elgins do apparently employ a relatively worthless hound dog, who gleefully wags his tail and doesn't even bark at Inky the burglar when he climbs up in a tree to hide, on-the-ready with his home movie camera to catch the Bionic Woman in the bionic act.
Later Jaime returns home, notices the busted fence and says WTF? Okay she technically remarked WITW "what in the world?" No biggie, she bionic-pounds the fence post back in and pushes the nails in with her thumb to repair the damage. Inky whispers his shock while his loud movie camera rrrrrrrrrrr engine rolls the entire time, enabling him to capture her top secret activities amazingly without her bionic ear detection.
Jaime then notices the bent TV antenna on the roof and hysterically wonders aloud "Birds are getting heavier?" ( yes, see fat owl and no chickens in previous paragraph) Crap this means she can't watch Julia Childs!! So she has Rita jump up on the roof, then bends the antenna back into place. Jaime leaps back down, whereupon she grabs her purse & books from the car and heads inside. Meanwhile, Inky now has his winning entry for American's Funniest Home Antenna Videos.
Jaime's Pie and Carrot Cake Shop! Hoo-RAY! It's so exciting to know Jaime's baking expertise expands outside of fruit pies and includes delectable vegetable cakes, too.
I had pen in hand ready to take notes, but all Jaime did was bionic-shred carrots in this scene, so I was left with absolutely nothing to add to my Bionic Betty Crocker recipe file, except for a lifeless pile of orangeness. (Root vegetables are so boring.)
Meanwhile she's multi-tasking on the phone with Oscar and he's accepting her offer to "stay over" because how can he refuse her carrot cake? (Um according to the aforementioned note, isn't she taking this to her teachers’ meeting?) Jaime says she will tell Oscar all about the weird occurrences from the first part of this episode later she's gotta go now buh bye!
After dark there is a full moon (presumably sometime before 7:30), whereupon Jaime heads down to her car dressed in a lovely white coat and white slacks for her teachers’ meeting (imma pretend this white fashion incident didn't happen BEFORE Memorial Day) and just as she gets behind the wheel EEEK! Inky's waiting in the passenger seat pointing a gun at her. C'mon sister, no fancy moves and BTW he's seen just how fancy she can move, too—so start the engine and let's go we've got business to discuss.
Planet of the Apes: After the commercial they arrive at Inky's apartment, conveniently stationed above a Universal back lot pool hall & barbershop, whereupon he is suddenly attacked by a mad chimp just as he comes in the front door. "Ralph it's ME!" Inky pleads.
During the ape scuffle, Jaime manages to snag Inky's dropped gun. But he reveals that even though he open carries, it's not even loaded because he hates guns.
I love how Jaime just tosses this firearm on the bed in a very aloof fashion. "So do I," she remarks. (Speaking of stuff Jaime hates, for the record, she also checks with him later in the episode to make sure he doesn’t have a pet snake.)
Time for the who are you's and what are you up to's. Jaime explains she's just a little ole’ school teacher but he's like yeah right she jumps 2 stories and has a pile driver for a right arm. "Well then you know what this arm can do, don't you?" Jaime threatens. But Inky has B-roll movies of her, and blackmail-proposes widespread public release of her super powers unless she helps him pull off a big heist.
Jaime rings up Oscar at her Coach House (where he was apparently waiting for his piece of carrot cake?), and gives him the unfortunate blackmail news. "And you agreed to help him?" Oscar worries, because he just ran Inky's files and this schlump has a string of arrests plus a monkey who foiled his last burglary attempt by triggering an alarm, and Jaime LOLs and Oscars says yeah well even if we can obtain Inky's film of you, he will still have sensitive information about your bionics so how ‘bout we play along with him?
Oscar says don’t worry, babe they will pre-arrange it so Inky gets caught for his third felony and they can lock him away for good! (Presumably, his captive monkey would then be retired to a nice primate sanctuary where he can live out his days with the rest of his species in a more suitable wildlife setting, and never again have to wear cutesy toddler overalls and ring bells for the sake of shallow human entertainment.)
Raising the Bar: Inky returns to the bar and brags to Sully he's gonna do a big score with a female partner. Then Jaime walks in and asks Inky if there isn't some place more private they can talk. Inky wink-suggests they go back to his apartment and basks in Sully’s flabbergast-ination. OMG I just realized there is an instrumental disco music rendition of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” playing in the background here. Sending off our pseudo Elton John and Kiki Dee to go plan their boogie bank heist.
Sully immediately dials the big guy to tattle-tale. Inky’s gonna knock over a big bank and has a "hot shot tomato working with him" and plus "she's a real knocker, I've seen her!" (Don’t you just love sexist gangsta tawk?) Naturally the greedy manager of Fence-Mart wants in on this deal, too, so he concocts a plan to steal the money from Inky moments after he hauls it out of the bank.
Hey Hey He’s A Monkey: Back at Inky’s place, he tells Jaime that his chimp has been a worthless crime partner because he only rings bells and that the lab sold him Ralph because he was untrainable for anything else.
And then while I’m busy imagining this sad little monkey living in a cryogenics test lab alongside THE INSUFFERABLE Dr. Michael Marchetti’s Rhesus test monkeys, Inky breaks out his dearly-departed mother’s “tea cozy.”
Wait, this seems kinda gay but okay. Let’s all grab our Barbies and invite them to our tea party, too!
Tea and Sympathy: While he and Jaime sip tea, we learn that the Inkster and his mom were really tight and the only reason he turned to a life of crime was to help pay her mounting medical bills because the American health care system failed them.
Of course any man who would conduct impromptu tea parties and make Robin Hood-style sacrifices to take care of his ailing momma scores instant sympathy points with Jaime, which causes her to have second thoughts about Oscar’s impending sting operation. How can she in good conscience send this sweet old thief up the river when he’s serving her from an dainty little TEA COZY? I mean c’mon it has flowers and everything.
Last Call: Jaime leaves and stops at a pay phone to call Oscar and let him know the plan specifics, unaware she’s being listened in on by a gangster in a nearby parked car. Pacific National Bank noon tomorrow for a $3 million dollar heist. (Hey that’s like Steve at 50% off) But Jaime wonders do we really have to go through with this because Inky’s “really such a cute little guy.”
Heavens no Jaime, Oscar knows all about blackmailers and they cannot take any chances with him! Besides Oscar is wearing a very stark YELLOW cable knit sweater to underscore his mood of caution, while he orders her to stay out of the getaway car tomorrow. He and the police will take it from there.
Ahead of the Pack: The next day while Oscar is organizing the bank stakeout on the Universal back lot with local police, Jaime arrives at Inky’s to find him packing his suitcase, tea cozy and monkey. Because pretty soon he won’t have to live in a dump like this anymore.
Jaime continues to struggle with her guilt, especially after Inky remarks she’s really nice and the best thing that ever happened to him and he intends to watch out for her while he commits grand larceny.
I thought the shot of the bank doors announcing their closed Memorial Day schedule was a nice touch, graciously leaving me plenty of clear window space to clutter with additional signs. Meanwhile, Jaime and Inky arrive in the back alley behind the bank in his beat-up red convertible, being closely watched by both police and the double-crossing team of gangsters.
Shock and Awe: Inky’s patented burglar alarm stopper™ is a pair of jumper cables and a car battery designed to break some kind of alarm current, and to the amazement of everybody watching it works and doesn’t even electrocute Jaime. Inside, she bionic spins the vault wheel open, Inky loads up his bags with money and hands Jaime a measly wad of cash as her ABC network bonus. She tosses it back on a shelf.
Outside, they are surprised at gunpoint by one of the bad guys and Jaime is forced to get in the getaway car after all. The upside is her red shirt matches the red convertible, so she looks fabulous in it.
Meanwhile another bad guy positioned on a building rooftop strings a cop on a pole and goofily plays with his walkie-talkie. I love Oscar’s WTF steely stare at the police chief as they both realize this episode has drastically turned all campy Keystone Cops on them. #Sorry
Monkey Business: From the back seat of the getaway car, the bad guys inform Inky that Jaime set him up. What ev. She’s got a cute monkey on her lap and she’s having more fun with him and barely even paying attention until it’s her cue to look up apologetically™. The guys force Inky to drive up a ramp into a “Rentco” cargo truck, which drives off under cover, enabling them to escape police.
Rentco then delivers them to the Fence-Mart warehouse, where Inky and Jaime are met by the gangsta manager, who thanks them for the millions. Jaime gets led away to “get rid of her later” but she bionics a stack of crates onto her captors and escapes. Momentarily left unattended, Inky grabs the bags of money and retreats with Ralph in tow to some upper level of the warehouse.
<insert like 15 minutes of boring chase scenes up and down warehouse aisles> <refill martini glass> <file nails> <check Facebook> <analyze meaning of life>
Hold Everything: Suddenly a gun goes off and causes Inky to fall from the scaffolding, holding on for dear life by just one hand. The money starts falling downward which distracts the bad guys while Jaime goes to rescue Inky. Since they are essentially sitting ducks in this location for the bad guys to shoot, Jaime spots an alarm bell on the wall and encourages Ralph to go hit the bell. “Go on banana brains,” Inky commands. Ralph scales the beam and plunks the bell a few times which eventually sets off the full alarm.
Oscar’s patrolling police station wagon just happens to be rolling by outside and hears the alarm. “Get some men in here!” he shouts because of course no women could possibly handle this burglary call, and Jaime bionic-hears the police radios and knows they’ve been rescued. Yay.
Ralphie gets patted and praised for being a good boy, but then Inky loses consciousness right after he tells Jaime to please take care of his monkey in case he dies or something. But no worries because his tongue keeps arbitrarily moving so we know he’s not really dead.
Odds and Ends: In the final scene Jaime is back at her carriage house with Inky and Ralph, wearing a striped shirt exactly like the one she wore when they were Killing Oscar except this one had black stripes instead of blue. Oscar thanks Jaime via phone for the fencing operation/bank bust, and she assures him Inky definitely deserves pardon from prosecution and won’t blackmail her bionic secrets anymore.
Based on Jaime’s suggestion, Inky says he contacted the police PR department and will soon be redirecting his talents to educate people on how to protect themselves from sleazy burglars like him. But the most important thing is Jaime’s carrot cake that Ralph and Inky have been scarfing down “tastes like a million bucks.”
Don’t you just love happy season endings?
In this episode we add 5 more outfits to Jaime’s wardrobe closet. The multi-striped pullover shirt and jeans only appeared for a millisecond in the flashback scenes during the Elgin burglary, then came my favorite—dark brown slacks with a tan cowl neck sweater and brown long-sleeved blouse. I thought her “winter white” slacks and sweater, also worn with a long white wool coat, were gorgeous, too.
For the bank heist Jaime wore a white turtleneck under a scoop neck red tee with black slacks, and then finally the black striped shirt that, as I mentioned above, was exactly like her blue-striped shirt in Kill Oscar, so she must have gotten a 2 for 1 deal at Ojai Bargain Outfitters. (For the record, I like this black version better.)
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