SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
October 20, 1976
Mood Ring: Yellow
I saw the Bionic Woman on TV tonight and Jaime was a country singer and she wore a funny cowgirl outfit. YUK my dad likes Johnny Cash and always plays country radio stations when he drives, but I don't like this hillbilly music, and besides who would EVER want to go to Nashville? They talk funny there.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 2x04
LIVING IN THE COUNTRY
Move over Connie Britton, the Bionic Woman honky-tonked Nashville, first.
June 16, 2013
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Purple
HooooooowwwwwwwDEEEEEEE! Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee! Yeah isn't it ironic that I would one day actually wind up living in this city I thought was nothing more than a population of county hicks sitting around on hay bales pickin' banjos? (Thanks tourism department of Hee Haw!)
It's a long story that would make a super-boring country song how I landed here, but turns out Nashville is an awesome metropolis (only part of which is Music Row) and my tolerance for country music has evolved from childhood disgust to genuine respect and admiration for the genre. I even have a few country albums in my iTunes playlists now, including the legendary Man in Black himself. (Shhhhh, don't tell my dad.)
So of course I could hardly wait to ride with the Bionic Woman on her Road to Nashville again, and I didn't even have to leave my house this time! And I was delighted to discover this is a pretty good episode, too.
Ms. Wagner can sing wonderfully when a song is written in her key, and wardrobe suitably tricked her out in an over-the-top, 70s rhinestone country cowgirl ensemble. Not only was this one of the more memorable Jaime outfits—to date, it carries with it the distinction as being the only publicly known surviving piece of wardrobe from The Bionic Woman television series. (Read the story here.)
Yes, you read that right kids. HER OUTFIT IS STILL ALIVE AND LIVING IN THE COUNTRY!!
In the spirit of bluegrass bliss, for tonight's Bionic Blonde episode viewing, you may substitute corn liquor moonshine for martinis and speak with a thick southern drawl, honey lambs. Lawdy, you don't own a pair of cowboy boots or a ten gallon hat to keep Jaime company? Neither do I, because guess what. People in Nashville don't REALLY dress like this. I know, mind blowing, huh?
Ready? Ah one, and ah two, and ah one two three and: Tonight our story begins in a Grand Ole Opry-style music venue, where country music star Buck Buckley has made a career comeback and is playing to the enthusiastic applause of a stock footage audience—that looks strangely like the very same rich people who attended Jaime's Miss USA Pageant last year. I reckon these formally dressed country music fans shot their own furs that they're wearing tonight.
Incidentally, what is it with scriptwriter Mr. Parriott's repetitive character names? First it was "Ray Raymond" in Bionic Beauty and now we meet “Buck Buckley.” I've decided to be eternally grateful they allowed Kenny Johnson to name the Bionic Woman, otherwise we might be be calling her "Some Sommers."
Anyway, we see some OSI agent guy named Bill in a phone booth outside, listening on his portable GE radio to Buck performing live, while he attempts to place a "code 7 scramble call" to Oscar Goldman. (How come Jaime never scrambles her calls?)
But by the time Oscar picks up, Bill has been non fortuitously ascertained—by a mysterious bad guy wearing red cowboy boots—who proceeded to violently stomp the bejesus out of Bill's dropped radio. You know, because why bend over and turn the "off" button? Angry violence towards innocent electronics duly noted. *hugs iPhone*
Middle School Musical: Yay we’re back in Jaime's classroom at the Ventura Air Force Base—for the very first time since last season, I might add—where Miss Sommers is leading her brand new cast of students in a Glee style sing-a-long! Classmate Patty is accompanying them on guitar (which I immediately recognize is a nylon-stringed Ovation—not that it matters to this story—but I do love that they gave our lead guitar here to a girl.) They are all joining in on a country song: "And it's good to be alive in the morning / to feel the sunshine warming up your face yeah / And you can hear the cannon ball / down behind the well / and I'm so glad that I'm living in the country."
Wait WAIT Jaime stops them because they're never going to win the school talent contest if classmate Pam doesn't participate and sing, too. Jaime makes them start from the top again, but sadly, the girl is horribly tone deaf (I love Jaime's face when she realizes this) so they agree Pam will play the tambourine instead. Just then, Oscar pops his head in the door, which means Jaime has to go be a Bionic Woman now.
Heeeeere's Doc! In the hall outside, there's some western clad dude wearing a furry white cowboy hat, played by Doc Severenson, who managed to get a few days off leading Johnny Carson's late night band to go raise some bionic corn. Oscar introduces him as Muffin Calhoun ….BWwwwAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm sorry, but I can no longer hear the term "muffin" now without thinking of Betty White's hysterical baking diva SNL skit.
Sure, pleased to meet you but Jaime wants to know why she needs to be acquainted with Muff… bwaahaha…. and Oscar says it's because she has as assignment in Nashville. "Nashville?!" Jaime's annoyed. And then she suddenly gets a big ole satisfying grin on her face and asks him again, "NASHVILLE?" Yeah, screw this lousy school teacher job, Ima goin' to make it big in Music City USA! Yeeee Haw! <---we'll be regionally substituting this for our usual Woo Hoo tonight.
Bionic BNA: Jaime and Muff…*snicker* arrive at at the airport, and OMG Jaime's outfit!! She's wearing a flamboyantly styled, 2 piece baby blue rhinestone bedazzled country western star outfit, complete with a white belt, big white cowboy hat and matching white boots. Because this is such an ideal way for an agent to not to stand out in an undercover assignment.
Jaime? Sweetie. If you wear an outfit like this walking through Nashville International Airport, your sparkly rhinestones will immediately attract tourists like a bug zapper. Because they will assume you must be a country star. There is simply no WAY the Bionic Woman got outta there without being stopped for a few autographs. I hope she signed them ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter.’
You May Call Her Six Million Dollar Ma'am: Mr. Calhoun (sorry we have to switch to his last name now so I can stop laughing) and Jaime come upon an airline sky lift guy having trouble with a wardrobe trunk, so the Bionic Woman very politely stops and offers to help him lift it. I'm thrilled Jaime's already fitting in nicely in one of the nation's top-ranked cities for friendliness.
But then the skycap dude completely ruins it by saying in rude Hollywood speak, "Thanks a lot, LADY!" WTF? A real Nashville gentleman would have offered a more respectful, "thank you ma'am." Calhoun is impressed with Jaime’s strength and remarks he should have had her carry her own bags—but she justifies his services by claiming she's "not in this revolution business." Yeah so just put my luggage down over there, hun.
During this airport stroll we learn Calhoun is a retired Korean war intelligence colleague of Oscar's, plus a former guitar player for his ole buddy Buck Buckley, so he's agreed to help Jaime get on the inside track to see if they can find the missing OSI agent and uncover what kind of espionage messages are being secretly transmitted from Buckley's camp. They are soon greeted by Penn Mathers, a cowboy dude on Buckley's staff assigned to pick them up. When he grabs their suitcases, the camera zooms in on his boots… oh no, the same pair that murdered the radio earlier. (Insert twangy dramatic music.)
Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog: After the commercial—where they no doubt stopped at the Loveless Cafe for some buttery biscuits, Jaime and Calhoun arrive on Buckley's estate escorted in a super-tricked out white Bentley convertible with longhorns on the front hood. Jaime's instantly wowed by Buck's huge Nashville “spread,” while I'm simply just impressed he's able to grow Palm trees in this part of the country. *blink* Incidentally, Buck is played by Hoyt Axton, the folk/country singer who was also a gigantically successful songwriter. We have Mr. Axton to credit for writing the pop hit classic "Joy to The World" by Three Dog Night.
Calhoun and Buck have a "you old dawg" buddy-hug reunion out back, and Calhoun introduces the Bionic Woman as "Jody-Lee Sommers." Yay, another undercover name to add to Jaime's list of aliases that completely protects her from any possible tennis pro celebrity recognition! In order to gain her admittance into Buck's high security studio, Calhoun suddenly devises an excuse that Miss Sommers is actually a country singer that he brought along specifically to audition for Buck's record label. Jaime's completely caught off guard by this news, gulps and says yeah... um of course she can... sing.
Wait, gurrrl you dressed in this outlandish rhinestone stage costume without expecting to be posing as a country music singer? Just who exactly was Jody-Lee Sommers supposed to be— Muffin’s manicurist? An overdressed roadie? (Didn't y'all discuss this on the 3+ hour flight to Tennessee?)
Mixed Messages: Once inside Buck's high security log cabin studio, they meet his producer Tammy Dalton, his lovingly devoted partner. Tammy’s hair is also perfectly poofed like a traditional country music queen. I love how Jaime's not even 2 steps in the door and she already starts swaying to the slidey-guitar music, while the band sits around to listen to their session playback. From the engineering booth, Tammy insists they need "more top on Tommy's mandolin" in the mix. But on the tape, Jaime can bionic-hear a mysterious high-pitched humming signal. So either something's fishy, or Tommy probably needs to retune his mandolin.
Then they all decide there's no time like the present for singer Jody-Lee to go ahead and audition for Buck! Nervously, she chooses the same song she practiced with her students earlier. Calhoun leads the band just like he does on the Tonight Show, Jaime steps up to the mic and—as the saying goes... starts sweatin' like a whore in a church. Can the Bionic Woman pull this off?
Pitch Perfect: OMG she really did great—and I'm not just saying that because I frequently avow Jaime Sommers is the high priestess of perfection... but Lindsay Wagner really does nail this. Much, much better than her "Feelings" debut in Bionic Beauty. Bravo for choosing a song that's in her key and vocal range this time. And while I am of the opinion this particular country tune had a catchy chorus, I found the mind-wandering verses somewhat incoherent—something about lying naked in bed (surprisingly, left out of the middle school version) and later warming up the car or maybe just walking into town because it isn't very far, yeah... in a series of seemingly random, willy-nilly lines which caused me to wonder if perhaps the songwriter shouldn't have put down his bong.
Nevertheless, to help promote Jody-Lee's big record label launch, the Bionic Blonde has decided it's high time Jaime-Lee Sommers had her an official country music video. Hit it, Muffin!
Yee haw! Jaime has successfully impressed Buck and she's in. However, in order to protect exposing Jody-Lee's super hearing powers, I had to cut the part revealing she can both sway AND bionic listen at the same time. During this interlude, Jaime overheard Tammy complaining to Penn in the engineering booth she "never ahh-greed to murder" for the OSI agent they kidnapped. Hmmm this plot is getting thicker than sausage gravy. But first, an unexpected sponsored link from our Facebook feed that embarrassingly outs your friends on what kind of music they’re listening to:
Your Cheatin Heart: After the commercial Jaime takes a friendly stroll on the estate grounds with Buck, and asks him for advice on how to handle all her contract offers. (Um, hire an agent?) Buck reveals his touching story of how Tammy found him "in a flop house guzzling hair tonic" and saved his substance addictions and career after somebody stole his songs and turned them into a rock opera. (OMG, you mean Queen's "Bohemnian Rhapsody" was originally a square dance?)
By now, Jaime's drawn to Buck's down home, good-ole-country-boy charm and genuine honesty. And she deems their Johnny & June Carter Cash inspired, B-plot relationship "a very romantic American success story."
Sleeping Single In A Double Bed: That night Jaime calls Oscar from her guest bedroom (in a non-scrambled call) with an episode update. She doesn’t think Buck is involved in this and she suspects the missing OSI agent must be detained somewhere in the studio because it's armed like Fort Knox. Oscar asks Jaime to pull out Bill's picture prop so they can discuss him now. Jaime remarks, "Oscar I gotta tell ya, this poor guy. If you sent him in here looking like this no wonder he got caught. He looks just like you." Ahahaha!
"But that's an OSI requirement Jaime," Oscar explains, "we all look alike." (Except their Rudy Wells) Then Jaime hangs up because now she has to go get Rita to help her stunt-break into the studio. Bye y'all!
In the darkness of night Jaime sails over the high, laser armed fence field surrounding the studio, but avoids the tear-gas rigged front door and opts instead for the Santa Claus approach. She bionics up to the roof and goes down some kind of air conditioning vent shaft chimney.
Red Solo Cup: Inside the sound booth, cast in an all-red light which causes me to immediately start singing, "RoxxxxxxxxAnnnne, you don't have to turn on the red light…" she decides that since the soon-to-be-murdered Bill didn't answer her when she whispered his name a couple times and he wasn't stuffed in the tape closet, she would instead investigate the embedded high frequency code noise on the music tracks she heard earlier.
OMG I am absolutely astounded by how Jaime manages her way around this complicated equipment room, racking up a session tape, then finding the correct buttons for power, headphones and volume slider controls—all on a sophisticated sound board with more freaking buttons than Alex7000 the supercomputer. Is this the same woman who frantically couldn't figure out which clearly marked “STOP” button to push to get that Jet pack thingy down in Canyon of Death? You've come a long way, baby.
Then oops, the door swings open and Jaime gets busted by Buck, who accuses her of trying to get her grubby hands on his music. Never mind, he knows who she's working for, "Punk kids in leather pants trying to turn his music into rock and roll." LOLZ. Gawd yeah you know Jaime hangs with these sullen Emo kids all the time. You can immediately tell by how she's dressed in these gothic rhinestones.
Time To Fess Up: Jaime decides to unveil her true mission and whips out her OSI I.D. badge to show Buck, and STOP STOP STOP!
I would like to point out that the Bionic Woman’s credentials here in this scene are more fittingly presented in a concise, folded leather wallet just like all the savvy TV agents do—as compared to her bulky, tri-fold Mom Wallet® that she flipped open for that marine guard years later in Bionic Ever After. Sigh. Gone are the hipster days of youth when you could still travel light and conceal your awesome government badge somewhere in your sparkly cowgirl suit.
Slow Going: Jaime plays the tape recording in a super-slow speed for Buck to prove there's a top secret code being embedded, and then gently breaks the news to Buck that his sweet significant other Tammy is covertly involved, too. Buck gets angry and pulls a gun on Jaime when she tries to put in a call to Washington, announcing—just like Tammy Wynette—he intends to stand by his man, I mean woman, just like she stood by him.
Country Jam-boree: After the commercial, Jaime and Calhoun (who has been pulled out of bed and is still wearing his pajamas) are both being held at gunpoint in the studio. Haha, Jaime is hunched over, straddling her chair next to Calhoun's.
I realize Jaime has been up all night and is “tarred” as Loretta Lynn would say, but pardon me while I slide into a Julia Sugerbaker voice and caution, "Miss Sommahs, that furniture you are sitting in is a chay-uh, not a horse. So darlin’ could you please adopt our Sutherrn belle etiquette, turn it around, assemble some posture, and sit in ah lady-like position?"
Jaime bionic-listens in on Buck and Tammy fighting in the sound booth. Where Tammy insists to her BF, "Ahhh did it for youuu!" *giggle* There were WAY more syllables in that sentence than I deemed were possible. (BTW Tammy is played by Fionnula Flanagan, a wonderful, Irish-born actress I more recently remember from films like The Others and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Which puts her in a film with Sandra Bullock, which connects her back to the Bionic Woman and Lindsay Wagner. Funny how this six degrees thing works.) Anyhoo, Tammy confesses she had to pursue this espionage hobby in order to raise the money to help save Buck's career.
Cutting Your Losses: Then our bad guy Penn arrives, tells Tammy and Buck they're going to outfit his guitar with a special transmitter tonight to broadcast their final code, and promises their kidnap victims will merely receive a "memory loss drug." Ahahahah. As Jaime bionic eavesdrops on this, somehow she is suddenly inspired to come up with a plan to get them out of there while she can still almost barely remember who Steve Austin is.
Jaime whisper-schemes with Calhoun to make a break for the door while she bionic rams the grand piano into the armed bad guys, currently preoccupied playing cards. Yee Haw, 100 Angry Bird Points for the knock down, complete with piano chord musical impact sound! But when Calhoun reaches the door to open it, Penn re-arms it via his wrangler belt remote, and the tear gas instantly subdues Jaime and Calhoun.
Great Balls of Fire: Later that night, an unconscious Jaime, Calhoun and the OSI agent Bill are left in the sound engineer room and Penn orders the bad guys to rig the power lines to start a fire and burn the studio down. What?! Tammy is outraged—she though he was going to use the memory loss drug! The bad guys flip the electrical panel switch and leave Jaime and gang surrounded in billowing smoke while we cut to commercial and expose Jaime’s other favorite Spotify playlist.
With the studio now in flames, Jaime manages to regain consciousness, wakes up Calhoun and Bill, bionics the locked door open and then crushes the outer security door alarm so they can all escape outside without being gassed— just as an explosion BOOMs that would have barbecued them back in the engineering booth. Yay!
It’s Show Time: Meanwhile Buck is about to go on the barn-themed, hay bale stage, at what the announcer explains (in order to avoid any pesky Grand Ole Opry lawsuits) is the "world famous Countryland Music House!"
Calhoun, Jaime and Bill steal Buck's sporty Mercedes and race to the venue while listening to the "Grand Rapid Boys" bluegrass warm up band being broadcast live on the radio. Brought to you tonight, naturally, by Martha White Flour and Goo-Goo Clusters, the real milk chocolate original southern treat!
As Buck's about the go on stage, Tammy is overcome with remorse and she tells Buck that Penn has left Jaime-Lee and Muffin for dead. Suddenly Penn pulls a gun on her, forcing Buck to go through with the performance or else. As Buck strums his guitar, the special embedded tape begins to broadcast the signal and Jaime can hear it on the radio. Hurry, step on it, Calhoun!
It's curtains for you: Finally our 3 agents arrive backstage and I just now realized Calhoun is still wearing his PJs. How embarrassing. But they're met by two of Penn's bad cowboys who pull guns on them and order the western standard, "now, back up niiiice and easy."
Jaime brilliantly grabs a stage curtain overhead and bionic yanks it down on them, knocking them to the floor. Yee Haw! 250 Angry Bird Points. Calhoun then grabs a rope and lassoes Penn before he can shoot Tammy. Hey, Calhoun has pretty good non-bionic aim, so we'll give him 50 points, too. Plus a gift card to Walmart to go buy him some clothes and get out of those pajamas.
With the bad guys captured, Buck leaves the stage mid-song to go have an emotional reunion with Tammy—since whew, it's finally over. But not really, because Tammy will soon have to go to prison for treason, so Buck invites her to come onstage for one last farewell song.
Jaime gets all verklempt from the stage wings while Buck sings that You Can Fly Like an Eagle / You can fly like a dove / you can do most anything / that your heart’s been dreaming of … (Trivia Note: we will hear this same song snuck into the series again in the upcoming Night Demon, where Jaime sings along with Buck on her car radio).
Class Act: In our final scene back in Ojai, Oscar is walking Jaime down the hall to her classroom. In her pretty pink dress, Jaime wants to know if Oscar will attend Buck and Tammy's hearing—but he's not very hopeful they'll be able to avoid their serious treason charges or prison time. Jaime's empathizes, "They're strong people, I think they'll make it." But poor Jaime still struggles with some lingering guilt for her law-enforcement role in having to break up this romantic success story, especially when their motives were purely to save someone they loved.
When Jaime walks into her classroom, she discovers Calhoun is giving her students a few music pointers. Calhoun dedicates a song to his old buddy who taught us about the "freedom you get from doin' things on your own." He reprises Buck's "Fly Like an Eagle" song again, and the whole class joins in—even tone deaf Pam, who waves for Jaime to please sing with them, too.
Jaime gets emotional and begins to cry again. Not because Pam's singing hurts her bionic ear, but because Jody-Lee's genuinely gonna miss her ole friend Buck.
But look on the bright side, Jaime—maybe they'll send him to Folsom Prison. I hear Johnny Cash gives free concerts there.
There were three outfits in Road To Nasvhille. For school in the beginning, a very pretty, summery, short sleeved, scoop-necked dress in a beige pattern. And for the first time in the second season, the return of her signature enneagram necklace—which she also wore with her two-piece pink velour dress at the end and with her cowgirl suit.
The Bionic Woman’s one-of-a-kind, custom tailored light blue rhinestone cowgirl outfit has a longer story (plus a happy ending), which I wrote about separately in the blog. With this, Jaime wore a matching white cowboy hat, boots, belt and neck scarf.
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