SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
January 14, 1976
Mood Ring: Perfectly Purple
Tonight the Bionic Woman got her very own show!! Jaime woke up from an operation with some more of her memories back, except she still can't remember she loves Steve. Then she moved to her own apartment in a barn and got a job as a school teacher and ripped a phone book! I really love her new show. I can't wait for next week!
THE BIONIC WOMAN 1X01
A STAR IS BORN
Tonight, Jaime starts her own TV series and places a memorable ad in the yellow pages.
June 26, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Still Perfectly Purple
We really need to start this one out with a Bionic Blonde party, dontcha think? I mean how can you not celebrate the very first episode of the Bionic Woman television series? So here are tonight’s party instructions:
1) Arrange all your living room furniture in a circle like Jaime's classroom
2) Gather Scrapbooking supplies. You will need glue, tape, and cuter pictures of Steve to help jog Jaime’s memory better. (Helen's presentation failed to sell the importance of this relationship… she needs our help)
3) Get out your yellow pages. Just do it, because like you have any *other* use for these today anyway.
4) Martinis, darlings. And be sure your olives come in a can this time. We need something to pretend-open with our bionic fingernails alongside Jaime.
Ready? Sip and.. Action! "Welcome Home Jaime" begins with Oscar summarizing Jaime's TV life thus far, dictating a letter to a ‘Mr. Secretary.’ We see familiar scenes from her love story with Steve, her tragic skydiving accident, bionics to bionic rejection, returning from the dead, massive memory loss… But now, Oscar gravely informs us, Jaime is in the operating room "one last time," undergoing extremely risky brain surgery. He wraps it up with this breaking news update: "If the operation is successful, her memory will be restored. ...If not…."
And then it just ends there with Oscar with a really worried look on his face. WTF? OMG did she survive? What do you mean "If not?! …." So then do we just ignore these opening credits that immediately start to roll for the new Bionic Woman television series starring Lindsay Wagner, and fire the writers for doing this all backwards? (Or, maybe they had an alternate series opening on standby named "Brain Damaged Bionic Woman" in the event Rudy's hand slipped during her surgery.) Needless to say, once we hear the Bionic Woman's very own theme music, I mean it's kind of a given Jaime's not going to be fighting international espionage from the morgue.*
Jaime Time Zone: The Bionic Woman was approximately 4 and a half minutes late for her first day of work. I realize now she was training her audiences early to get used to the fact that just because her show starts at the top of the hour, that does not mean our Bionic Diva is going to arrive on time. Aside from my personal impatience to just cut-to-Jaime-Sommers-will-ya, this countdown inconsistency means never knowing how many minutes I have to mix my cocktail before she makes her fabulous entrance.
While You Were Sleeping: Jaime begins her series recovering in the hospital. (Wow, must have been some crew party celebrating the premiere.) We hear the echo-y voices of Dr. Wells and Dr. Disney—a.k.a. Michael Marchetti—discussing her lobotomy and contemplating their forthcoming nobel prizes if they succeeded in restoring all her memories with this risky neurosurgery experiment. Hooray, Jaime wakes up, and she correctly answers all their interrogation questions like her name and where she went to school. But then they ask her about Steve Austin, whom Jaime only remembers as her bionic friend who is, incidentally, also "cute" by her recollection. "Oh. We also grew up together. At least I think we did."
CURSES!! I am now preparing a malpractice suit on Jaime's behalf for this team of incompetent doctors who failed to accomplish MY mission in all of this.
The Great Memory Bank Robbery: I did find this surgery truly remarkable in the notion that doctors could exercise such careful selection of a patient's memory banks while they were in there trying to recover files after Jaime’s motherboard fried. For purposes of plot, they conveniently found all the files named "I Heart Steve" and dragged those to the trash.
But Jaime darlin', I gotta say, for a woman who just woke up from major brain surgery requiring power drills and the partial removal of your skull, your hair looks absolutely stunning. I have now decided to withdraw my malpractice suit. Once again, Rudy Wells is a genius.
Sliding Into Home: In the next scene Rudy and Dr. Disney subject Jaime to the torture of family slide shows, showing her pictures of her alma mater Carnegie Tech, Ojai, Oscar, her parents, Steve's parents (who became her legal guardians when she was 16), and then a photo of Steve. Jaime says she semi-remembers running in the rain and Steve finding her, but this time there is no pain associated with the flashbacks. Despite Jaime begging them to continue, the doctors order her to take a mental break and work on exercising her bionics instead. This is code for we need new footage of you running in slow motion in a track suit ASAP so we can use those in tonight's opening credits.
Slide Show 2, The Return of the Backstory: Later in his office, Rudy drills Jaime again with more slides and questions from her past. But sadly, every single scene of her episode appearances on the Six Million Dollar Man appear to have been completely erased from her memory. (Except for the pleasant reminders every time a royalty check arrives.) Jaime practices her character's optimistic outlook early: "I will simply have to take the life—and the limbs—you gave me, and live one day at a time!" Hey since it's a new show and new life, can you hire the flaky but adorable Valerie Bertinelli to play her kid sister, too?
As Jaime doesn't seem to be experiencing any pain, Rudy lets her check out the "Book of Jaime" from their library—a classified folder which contains a bunch of information about her past and a great head shot from her agent. But of course they left out the personal stuff about Steve, because they remain worried those memory files might still be retrievable from the iCloud, which could send her over the edge again.
Tennis Anyone? While Jaime reminisces on a tennis court, Oscar Goldman pays her a visit, very prep-ily dressed, i might add, in a dark blue sweater with tan jacket. OMG he is so flirting with her in this scene! (Ima tell Steve you love his girlfriend.) Oscar asks her what she wants to do next—”go back on the ole tennis circuit?” Jaime proceeds to demonstrate her bionic power serve and recognizes that it would not exactly be fair to her opponents. (Take note, steroid users.)
Jaime announces she'd like to go back to Ojai, put down some roots and become a teacher. However, she concedes her bionic debt to the government—(here, Oscar jokingly divulges she did not cost $6 million like Steve because her "parts were smaller.") But Jaime insists she owes him her life, and whenever the OSI needs something done, she intends to help. Oscar politely rejects her offer... for the time being.
Fly Jaime Fast! Next, the Bionic Woman's hires a private pilot to move to Ojai—her step dad, Jim. While he checks the oil in their little twin engine sports plane, Jaime and Mickey have their own mini-Casablanca airport moment where she says goodbye. Yup, she totally dumps him here because he does not fit into her new television series. So here’s lookin’ at you, kid. *fake cries*
Yes Dr. Disney, your script abruptly ended on page 8 after Jaime handed you the ultimate dating consolation prize: "You'll always be in my heart, Michael." There, now don't let her bionic heels hit you on the way out. Then Jaime and Jim fasten their seat belts and place their tray tables in the upright position and vroom, they're outta there. (Sudden future plot reveal: some guy was watching Jaime here from a phone booth and reported their flight plan to Carlton Harris, the ‘lady-killer’ villain from her last episode.)
Welcome Wagon Hostess: Yay, Jaime is soon reunited with Helen at the Elgin's recently purchased ranch in Ojai, where they have agreed to meddle in her life only when the director calls them on set. Helen earns 50 pts. for being the first one to recite the episode title verbatim, "Welcome Home Jaime!"
On a walking tour, Helen shows Jaime their horse barn and invites her to live in the apartment above it. I admit I got a little teary-eyed along with Jaime in this touching scene when Helen affectionately reminds Jaime—who must have been feeling pretty alone during her recent identity crisis—"We're family."
Merry Maids: Next, Jaime begins the daunting task of cleaning up her new flat, soon to be known as the “Carriage House.” In a Cinderella scarf, she is busy painting, scrubbing the floors, washing the windows and massively trashing the probably-worth-a-fortune-on-Antiques-Roadshow junk, all in bionic warp speed. (Household hint: Order two Triple Espressos from Starbucks, and you too can clean house this way!)
When she's finished, Jaime winds up with a surprisingly Not!70s decorating theme. No photos necessary—just open your current Pottery Barn catalog. Yeah, Jaime Sommers was SO ahead of her time. Although, I have always wondered what her secret was to eliminating the permanent waft of horse odors drifting through her vents from the first floor tenants. (Note to self: Try not to watch this like an agricultural reality show. #HorsesSmellPretty)
Scrapbooking: Later in her step-parent's Screaming!70s living room, Jaime sees Helen try to slip a postcard from Steve into his scrapbook and asks permission to see the album. Since Helen's loving scrapbook contained only 2 pictures of her little Stevey, she apparently was unimpressed with her son's graduation from the Air Force, becoming an astronaut and walking on the moon—least of all his net worth of $6 million dollars. ‘Cause I really love how the next page of Steve's scrapbook is suddenly all about Jaime.
Following her cute baby picture, there’s Jaime's graduation photo where she pokes fun of her shoes (hey, there will be none of that around here!) ...but then Helen's hand stops Jaime before she tries to turn to the next page.
At last, Helen and Jim gently reveal to Jaime that she and Steve were much closer than she remembers. Jaime flips the page to see the Ausommers newspaper announcement of her engagement to Steve. She is initially shocked by this, although she does not experience any painful flashbacks. But most regrettably, it fails to trigger any of Jaime's memories.
I completely blame Helen for this weak scrapbook presentation in trying to sell what a great catch her son was/is. So below, we are putting together some additional scrapbook mementos that I feel certain will make Jaime insist she and her handsomely successful fiancé Steve Austin are reintroduced immediately!
Okay perhaps we went a little overboard with Steve’s pal/ celebrity guest Sonny Bono—like that would ever happen—but that Jesus pic was totally real. (Back after these lightening strikes.)
Job Hunt: After Jaime bionic-unloads her generic Ojai Used Appliance Store stove from Jim's pickup truck, she gets her very first phone call! It's Oscar, who has pulled in some Washington favors and gotten her an interview for a teaching position at the Ventura Air Force Base School in Ojai. He also happens to have someone in his office who would like to say hi.
IT'S STEVE!!!! (Photos arranged here in a classic Pillow Talk split screen for our viewing pleasure.) But their first conversation is a bit awkward—not anything fun like Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Steve seems kinda cranky today. Why is my mood ring suddenly turning gray? Surely his indifference here means he's just keeping his guard up so he doesn't get hurt again? (Or maybe it was Bubba, the key grip, who was feeding him Jaime's lines in a husky voice during the filming of this scene that made it difficult for him to mirror any affection.)
Well, whatever is darkening your brow Colonel Austin, snap out of it!! I spent a LOT of time updating your frickin' scrapbook to get her to like you again.
And thusly, with a case of the ‘like-whatevers’, the Bionic Man tells the Bionic Woman he's heading to Thailand in a few days and promises he will stop by her show on the way so they can talk. Yeah mister, you better.
Schoolhouse Rock: Then it’s time for Jaime's interview. And look, she's arriving in a sporty blue Datsun 280Z! Her character coolness just keeps getting better as this episode unfolds. She is meeting some Lieutenant Colonel guy at the base school. He's sorta handsome and tries to become her new Not!Steve, but no-can-do. (Because you know, she is maybe kinda dating that scrapbook guy.)
He offers her the job of teaching an incorrigible class comprised of "service brats." When Jaime accepts the employment position, he then asks her on a tennis date. Dude, not cool. This looks like the boss expecting favors for the job hire. But I love how Jaime reacts to him trying to casually put his arm around her when he escorts her through a door. She gave his arm a dirty look behind his back. Watch it, buddy!
Winning: That evening, Helen stops by Jaime's apartment to congratulate her on the new job. And look, she brought along another scrapbook with more photos for Jaime to look at! (The revised, hard-sell presentation, after picking up some new pointers from us.) But Jaime has to look at it later because she's busy cramming for her first day of school tomorrow.
They talk a little more about lost memories of Steve and Helen says some really beautiful stuff about almost having Jaime for a daughter-in-law once. But since she always considered Jaime her daughter from the time she was a little girl, it doesn’t matter because, "…you see? either way, I win." I have always loved this conversation, and credit goes to Writer/Producer Kenneth Johnson for this nice script here.
Sorry Charlie: When Jaime can't locate her can opener in the moving boxes, she uses her bionic fingernail to open her can of tuna. It's our very first, wow-that-doesn't-look-like-aluminum-foil-at-all bionic can opening stunt. Helen is amazed to watch her in action, and asks Jaime if she has an extra set of nails for her, too. Jaime promises to ask Rudy to check the parts department. This still cracks me up!
Pop Quiz: Okay, LOVED her yellow smock dress and black go-go boots on her first day of school! And then comes one of the most famous television scenes from the 70s. Ever. Even people who refuse to admit to watching the Bionic Woman can still remember this historic moment. If you don't know to which scene I am referring, look it up in the yellow pages. I’m skipping the keyboard rendition this time—we are going to watch the actual 90 second replay instead:
Accidentally On Purpose: After Jaime successfully teaches her students how to spell respect and class is dismissed, she has a couple hours to kill before Steve’s plane arrives at the base, so she decides to drive home. During the commute, she witnesses a car wreck, and like a good bionic samaritan, stops to rescue a guy from his burning car by ripping his car door off and leading him to safety. When Jaime returns with an ambulance later, the victim is gone. But the bad guys got it all on tape...(even the multi-camera “director’s cut” from their single camera hidden in the bushes ). This was no accident—it was orchestrated to test her bionic strength. Oh no!!!
Swinging Singles: Steve finally arrives (thankfully, in a better mood today) and he and Jaime stroll down all their memory lanes in Ojai. She pushes Steve on the swing set and sends him into a 180-degree orbit. (Hey, if you haven't signed that network contract yet, Cirque du Soleil would like to speak to you.) Later they wind up at the heart carving on their special tree, which marks the spot they have a serious heart-to-heart talk. I heart this scene. They both decide that despite Jaime’s inability to remember what it was like to be in love with Steve previously—there’s no reason this can’t be a new beginning for them. Then they seal their crossover agreement with a hand-holding ceremony. Reception to follow.
Boo, Steve's episode visit is much too short. The next morning he bids farewell to his parents and drives off, but not before he and Jaime kiss goodbye and she makes him promise to come back for more episodes later. Steve says "you can count on it" and winks. Wait, was that a “love ya” wink or a “just kidding” wink?
Stand Bye: Then Oscar takes Jaime aside and tells her she's in danger and she needs to get out of Ojai—the crooks who engineered that accident may be coming after her next. But Jaime's all like dang, I JUST moved here, bought a nice sports car, fixed up my place, started a low-paying teaching job and launched a brand new reality TV series. WTF? Jaime tells Oscar, "Sooner or later I'm gonna have to make a stand for myself, and I may as well do it right now."
But can Jaime Sommers protect herself from all the dangerous missions and evil villains that lie ahead? Eh—no problem. It's the demanding shooting schedules, celebrity pressures and lack of sleep for the next 3 years that will be the Bionic Woman's real challenge. Welcome aboard and good luck!
To be continued... in Welcome Home Jaime, Part 2.
Tally Me Banana: Mood ring: pleasantly purple—this is one of my favorite Bionic Woman episodes. Despite having very little time between finally inking the series deal and their network start date, this episode successfully covered a lot of groundwork to flesh out Jaime's character plus the series premise and tone. We got some light humor, nice drama, a couple Steve crossover scenes, and a nice wardrobe—including the introduction of muted yellow. Next to black, this is my second favorite color on Jaime. My banana theme continues with the classic yellow-pages scene. While it doesn't really qualify for Angry Birds scoring since it didn't require aim, I'm awarding Jaime 1000 points anyway for ripping her debut right into the television hall of fame.
I found at least 10 different outfits in this episode, including the white and red shirts she wore with her down-on-the-farm blue jean overalls. Jaime’s fabulous yellow smock dress appeared multiple times, including her slideshow scene with Rudy and Michael. Also loved her dark brown jumpsuit at the end.
*A recent discovery of some original press releases factually confirms "Welcome Home Jaime Part 1" was scripted and shot as a Six Million Dollar Man episode slated for broadcast on Jan. 11, 1976. But at the last minute, ABC decided this should be the Bionic Woman's inaugural episode, so it was reedited and aired under her series banner on Jan. 14. (This may explain the awkwardness of the opening teaser where Oscar suggested Jaime might not survive her surgery, followed by the she’s-alive-and-well BW opening credits.) This decision was reportedly so eleventh-hour, ABC didn’t even have time to pull some ads and TV listings. Because the first cut has never been seen—nor is it known if it was even preserved—it remains a mystery how the original SMDM edit differs from this BW version.
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