SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
September 21, 1975
Mood Ring: Green
Tonight was part 2 of the Bionic Woman! Jaime kept having really bad headaches every time she started to remember Steve, so they had to break up at the end. Why didn’t they just give her some aspirin?! I really, really wish she would come back because I really like the bionic woman. She even has bionic fingernails!
June 15, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Blue
If you just joined us, be sure to read Part 1 to learn how the dearly beloved Bionic Woman was even "cooler" than we had ever imagined. While Oscar narrates scenes from last week pointing out stuff like, "Steve could only watch as Jaime grew closer to Michael," here's the Bionic Blonde's cut to the chase: Deus ex machina, Dr. Disney, c-c-c-Cryogenics, She's alive! Who am I? Who are you? Flashbacks. Ouch my head hurts. Let's go to Ojai!
His Girl Friday: But before we proceed, let's check out this supremeTV guide ad* and teaser copy on the right that informs us that tonight, quote unquote "Steve and his girl stir up a hornet's nest…" Wow, excuse me? I suddenly feel the need to just fast forward three years later to the line from Oscar in the classic Bionic Woman episode On The Run: “…Get it right, will you? It's not Janey (OR GIRL). It's Jaime. Jaime Sommers. SAY it! Don't you EVER forget it." And besides, thanks to the direction of last week's script, she is no longer Steve's “girl” anyway. But nothing like a little dose of reality from these 70s ads to remind us just how groundbreaking female characters like The Bionic Woman were in helping to change this kind of terminology.
Tonight, we open with Jaime and “her boy” in a brown Ford station wagon freewaying it to Ojai, CA. Yes, the Bionic Woman is right on time tonight, but only because Steve kidnapped her. She had no choice.
Jaime Sommers, whose memory has fallen victim to a giant network eraser, doesn't even remember this little town she and Steve grew up in. They pass the familiar interstate sign that marks Ojai as home to famous Astronaut Steve Austin, and Jaime gets all excited. "You didn't tell me that! Did you go into space?" Steve says yeah, he even went to the moon. Jaime remarks how—like him (only with amnesia)—she now sorta knows what it's like to walk around in a strange new world, too.
They arrive at Steve's ranch, which sadly seems to be down to only 1 horse now—a glaring sign he's been totally neglecting his Farmville game and lost all kinds of livestock assets. Nevertheless, Jaime immediately assesses his property as "warm and friendly" so they decide to go for a warm and friendly bionic run. Jaime is being awarded 250 points right off the bat for this awesome black sweater she's wearing (in case you haven't noticed, this is my favorite wardrobe color on her). Meanwhile, Steve is singing his famous Ausommers montage love song again in his head. "Lately it's gone flat for me Jaime.." And by this point, unfortunately, so has this tune. And then I completely forgot to cover my eyes before this next scene, so now my retinas are scorched in a permanent kaleidoscope pattern.
WALLPAPER CLEARANCE! Oy vey, we are suddenly back in Steve's ranch house kitchen again where the exceedingly LOUD wallpaper needs a separate volume control of its own. Jaime calls Mickey to check in and flirt some more. (what ev) While she's on the phone, Steve hands Jaime a glass of orange juice that triggers a memory flashback to the time she accidentally crushed one in her bionic hand. She decides to pass on Tang this time.
Lake Deja Vu: Later, they visit the lake where they first kissed, and Jaime asks Steve, "Did you ever get the feeling that you've been somewhere before?" (You mean aside from recognizing shooting locations, backlots and set props in multiple episodes?) Then they wander over to a nearby tree where their names had once been carved, prompting Steve to immediately hide it with his hand so Jaime doesn't find out they used to heart each other. Jaime decides to bionic-carve her name on the tree, but thankfully her heart + was just illustrated as an ambiguous question mark. Proud of her creation, Jaime holds up her finger and informs Steve,
Personally, I would settle for a liquid detergent that didn't give me dish pan hands, or perhaps—equal pay for equal work— but yeah, I guess we women rank having a bionic fingernail as the ultimate must-have, too. (Think how much more awesome it would have been if Jaime delivered that line with her middle finger.)
Back In The Saddle: In the following scene they are back at the ranch, and Jaime has decided to go horseback riding. At this moment I am simply in awe that someone who has suffered complete memory loss can have no trouble recalling how to expertly saddle up a horse. There goes my amnesia excuse every time I struggle to figure out which way the straps go on my bra. But it's good to know Jaime's equestrian skills were not affected by her aneurism, and thusly, off she goes, galloping in slow motion across the rolling pastures.
Meanwhile, Steve phones his stepfather Jim and asks him to come over so he can leak the top-secret intelligence about Jaime still being alive. For this episode, unfortunately, Helen is out of town on an Ancestry.com expedition visiting "Aunt Berdine in Bakersfield" so she misses out on this breaking news. (I hope somebody remembered to DVR this for her.)
GoDaddy: From the kitchen window, Jim uses binoculars to watch Jaime riding horseback. "It's unreal Steve, like I'm seeing a ghost." I actually really liked this scene where Steve confesses how hard it has been for him to continually lose Jaime like this, and the frustration he feels that she can't remember him anymore. Jim tells his son he is proud of him, and then after Steve thanks Jim for letting him “unload a little,” he realizes the gate is open and both Jaime and the horse are gone. Oh no, she has broken her curfew and is riding into town! Steve takes off running after her.
If Memory Serves: But too late, Jaime beats Steve in to Ojai and ties up her horse at the town tree. Jaime finds herself drawn to the action on the tennis courts, where a guy invites her to play. When he is surprised to see she's kicking his butt at tennis, he suddenly recognizes her. "Hey, you're Jaime Sommers! I saw you on TV last year at Wimbledon."
This causes poor Jaime to become confused, and she experiences her first really painful Excedrin headache flashback—remembering that time she hurled her tennis racket when she was rejecting her bionics. “Nooooo!” Suddenly the racket flies out of her hand again, this time impaling the Parks and Recreation sign of “Tennis Court Rules” that say you must observe the ethics of tennis and sportsmanship. (Except when suffering black-outs or battling amnesia, of course. That was rule #2.) Thankfully, Steve finds Jaime just as she was having this little match point meltdown.
Whiskers on Kittens: That night at the local Ventura Air Force hospital, Jaime starts to have dreams of all her favorite flashback things: raindrops on roses, tennis and headaches, crashing barn doors, breaking lamps, smashing phone booths…. she wakes up screaming and Steve rushes in. (Nice performance by Ms. Wagner in this scene.) Jaime says she now realizes why Steve brought her here. "I grew up in Ojai, didn't I?" She goes on to say she wishes she could look back, and "I even feel like there's someone I left behind… someone I loved. But the pain, it just keeps coming." When Steve asks how he can help, Jaime says she wants to look forward instead. She wants him to ask Oscar to put her to work, so she can get her mind on some new, favorite things.
Don’t Push Your Luck: A few scenes later Jaime and Steve are on a military airplane with Oscar, who is downloading details of their new mission assignment. At first I’m loving their nice matching black jumpsuits. But then I realize those aren’t seatbelt straps on their shoulders.... O NOOOOO! THEY’RE SKYDIVING SUITS! Jaime and Steve are going to be dropped by parachutes directly outside this bad guy compound. The little light goes off signaling their drop, and (DUH!) of course Jaime begins to panic with a major post traumatic stress disorder episode. She remembers slamming to the ground in her skydiving accident. She’s more than afraid to jump. She’s paralyzed. Surely, Steve recognizes this while she’s screaming subtle hints like, “NO STEVE... I CAN’T !!!!!” Nope. Her now so TOTALLY EX-boyfriend decides to... PUSH her
OMG: I think I screamed even louder than Jaime did here. My mood ring is now what I would call “fiercely black.” I cannot believe they did this!! All these seemingly sensitive guys who—up until this point—were so carefully walking on egg shells around her vulnerable state of mind. Meanies!! Jaime somehow manages to regain her composure (and control of her bladder) at like 8 thousand feet and holds hands with Steve again for their descent. But don’t worry Jaime, since you were sorta preoccupied trying to SURVIVE this ordeal, I gave Steve the bionic finger FOR you here.
....aaaaannnd whew! This time Jaime lands safely! She gathers up her parachute like a pro, because saddling up and parachuting down are faculties that are forever immune to memory loss.
Time Out: Then Jaime and Steve bionic jog to a ridge and scope out the compound. Carlton Harris, the bad guy, is supposedly a “lady killer,” so despite Steve’s concern for her safety (NOW you care?), Jaime is determined to exercise her independence and her, ahem, feminine assets, to lure him into their trap. She shimmies out of her black skydiving suit and has on a nice short-sleeved black jumpsuit underneath the belts at the waist, instantly earning another 250 points for this black-on-black ensemble. And then I really love this next part. So Jaime and Steve can flip main switches at the exact same time in different areas of the complex to disarm a weapons vault, they synchronize their watches. A-hahaha! The Bionic Woman on time!? I see Jaime doesn’t need our help thanking Steve for that skydiving push. She’s simply going to arrive on her normal “Jaime Time.” #BrilliantPayback
Tour de Force: The Bionic Woman easily lures a meeting with bad guy Harris by posing as a flirtatious reporter and scores the inside tour. Steve follows a short while later and bionics a few security guards to get to his post. But unfortunately while Jaime tries to reach for the inside switch, Harris sees her and shouts, ”Jaime!” ...which triggers a painful bionic rejection flashback again, and she thinks Steve is calling out to her for help. Jaime starts to get really disoriented, freaks out and misses her time target (oops), then Steve gets concerned and goes in after her. It’s at this point that I begin to have flashbacks of my own, and I believe I recognize this shooting location as the same one they used for that power plant in Out of Body.
Colorado Springs Eternal: Our bionic Ausommers dodge gunfire, leap off staircases and haul out of there together. Then in the following scene, Jaime and Steve are back at the bionic hospital again. While Jaime sits out on the courtyard wearing a lovely navy blue dress, it’s time for another “Sommers Summit” where Steve meets with the guys, and says it wasn’t Ojai that was causing Jaime’s flashback headaches, it was HIM. So he volunteers to take himself out of her life, and they vote to ship Jaime off to the dreaded OSI character dumping ground— the “Colorado Springs Facility” —and away from him. But for how long? Steve says, “for as long as it takes.” (I’d bet my money on the next Nielsen sweeps.)
Friends 4-Ever: Sniff. I guess I’ve already forgiven Steve for that airplane push, because I felt kinda bad for him here. Then it’s time to say farewell to the Bionic Woman. I’m going to ignore the fact she rode off in a little convertible sports car with Dr. Disney at the end because I don’t like that mood ring color, and instead just focus on this really sweet scene between Steve and Jaime, where she tells him “I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I look at you and I get a feeling there’s something more. Was there?” And Steve answers “We’re friends, Jaime. Always have been, always will be.” *SOB* Jaime kisses Steve and then they say goodbye.
Mood ring: Yellow. Not exactly my idea of a happy ending, but at least Jaime didn’t like, FLATLINE this time. The bionic producer people wisely left the door open for more return of return of episodes, with a dash of audience hope that Jaime and Steve might one day get back together again. And even possibly live bionic ever after.
Back (Real soon as a new ABC series) After These Messages: This two-parter was a TV classic in terms of clever back-from-the-dead plot twists and establishing the future story arc for Steve and Jaime's relationship. While at times the script seemed to drag a little (could we please have yet another meeting where the guys all sit around and rehash Jaime's condition for the umpteenth time?)... I do grant Kenny Johnson extra points for coming up with a pretty creative solution for Jaime's resurrection by introducing the science of cryogenics—the basis of the widely circulated urban legend/ rumor that Walt Disney had himself cryogenically frozen upon his death in 1966. (Not true, BTW—he was reportedly cremated.) However, Jaime's selective memory loss that conveniently erased only her romantic recollections of Steve always seemed kind of a stretch to me. And while it vexed me to watch it unfold, I do understand why the survival of the series meant they had to call off this wedding. (At least for a couple more decades.)
So how come I didn't like these episodes more? I guess because I saw an ill-fitting, helplessly codependent, school girl tone in the Bionic Woman’s character that we were being handed this time around—especially in the first hour. When you are accustomed to the growth and strength of her character later on, it is personally difficult for me to go back and watch her portrayed here in some scenes as "helium balloon Jaime." (Partway through the 2nd half, I felt like I began to recognize her again.) Whether it was intentional or not, at times it seemed as if the bionic producer people were purposely draining her superhero mojo, so this time they could passively exit her out of the SMDM series hoping audiences would barely care if she ever returned.
Haha guess again. And this is where I give Ms. Wagner credit for her performance, and continuing to make Jaime so incredibly likable, even in the face of this character devaluation. We still wanted Jaime Sommers back. And after the ratings numbers came in, this time so did ABC: as a spin-off show. But would Ms. Wagner agree to take on a Bionic Woman television series when she reportedly wasn’t even really that keen on returning for this 2-parter?
Stay tuned boys and girls... this one’s a bionic nail-biter!
For about the first half, the Bionic Woman was sporting the awesome Steve Jobs look with the black sweater and blue jeans. There was a nice lacy detail on Jaimie’s Jammies, several different neck scarves, a black jumpsuit that belted at the waist, and sleeveless navy blue and bright red dresses at the end. Bravo!
*This vintage ad and others from the series can be found on Mr. Sherrard’s bionicwomanfiles.com website under "Series Promotions." My favorite ad copy line: "Jaime Sommers is the world's first bionic woman—and that means someone is out to get her." ...OMG, who writes this stuff?
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN 3X02
HIS GIRL FRIDAY
Returning to Jaime’s hometown turns out to be a major headache. Can the Bionic Woman put her finger on the real problem?
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