Fall Reviews: ‘Bionic Woman’ & ‘Back to You’

Looks like Bionic Woman (Wed. 9 p.m. on NBC) has a good chance to live up to the hype. The pilot episode opened with a cool, edgy, David Lynch type of shot, which segued immediately into some nice unexpected violence. The show is much darker than the original, and definitely smarter (which, admittedly, isn’t hard). In an earlier post, I described BW star Michelle Ryan (Jaime Sommers) as ?seemingly bland.? My bad. She shows some nice depth and range, here.


And let’s just get this out of the way: Ryan, and Lucy Hale, who plays her younger sister Becca, are both smokin’ hot. It’s the best one-two punch since Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel on Gilmore Girls. (And Hale is eighteen, so you don’t have to feel creepy.) Ahem. Back to our previously scheduled post.


As previously noted, Portlander Katee Sackhoff comes through with a strong performance as the first bionic woman, Sara. Sara has gone a bit off the rails and become a sexy sadistic killer. Miguel Ferrer is completely wasted in the pilot, but hopefully will be given more to do in future episodes.


Science fiction fans should have a lot to look forward to here. BW has some impressive bloodlines. The writers and producers have been involved in shows such as Roswell and Birds of Prey, and there are several connections (including Sackhoff) to Sci-Fi Channel hit Battlestar Galactica.


And talk about a pedigree!


Back to You, about two local news anchors who are reteamed after ten years, stars Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. Behind the camera, it features the team of James Burrows, Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. Burrows helped create and directed episodes of Will and Grace, Friends and Cheers. Levitan created Just Shoot Me, Lloyd wrote for Golden Girls, among others, and both worked on Wings and Frasier. (I have to rest a moment; I’ve never dropped so many names so quickly before.)


Like Frasier and Cheers, B2U (for all you young texting folks) is an ensemble comedy. It makes terrific use of its supporting cast: Fred Willard as sportscaster Marsh McGinley, Josh Gad as callow news director Ryan Church, and Ayda Field as weather girl Montana Stevens.


Not everything is original, however, as Willard seems to be channeling Herb Tarlick of WKRP and Josh is riffing on Miles from Murphy Brown. But that’s not to say it isn’t funny.



In the pilot, Chuck (Grammer) tells Kelly (Heaton) that she looks even younger than she did ten years ago. When she says, ?You actually managed to say that with a straight face,? he explains, ?I’m shot chock full of Botox!?


Another appealing similarity to shows like the aforementioned sitcoms, is the occasional swing away from farce and into the world of genuine emotion. The storyline has Chuck discovering that he has a ten-year-old daughter whom he never knew about. The show manages to offer real feelings without veering into sentimentality. Much credit must go to Laura Marano, who never plays daughter Gracie as cute.


B2U is in a difficult time slot, what with Dancing with the Stars on a ratings roll, but if there is justice in the TV world (oh, sorry, I passed out for a sec from laughing too hard) than this is one show which will find an audience.

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