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Bionic Woman, and Now the Six Million Dollar Man?

Published September 11, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of NBC.
Bionic Woman Bionic Woman

In a world of Heroes and Smallville where superhero stories can be done with modern visual effects and taken seriously, many fans of old ‘70s shows may wish they could have gotten the same benefit. Perhaps a new Bionic Woman can satisfy some of those old fans, setting the story in modern day with all the possibilities currently allotted to television. But where is The Six Million Dollar Man?

Heroic Television

“I think Universal has a plan to make Six Million Dollar Man into a feature,” explained producer David Eick. “It actually didn’t emanate from that direction. It came from sort of a different agenda which was to tell a story about a contrary woman and it was a discussion that we were having with the studio actually a year ago independent of this title. It was sort of a happy accident that we realized that maybe the way to do the story we wanted to tell was to wrap it into this title which seemed right for re-invention and played into the themes that we were interested in from the beginning.”

That said, if this Bionic Woman is such a reinvention, why not start from scratch? “It's not about cashing in on the history of the title. I think what's interesting about the old show is that that came about at a time when there's a great deal of discussion in the popular culture about equal rights for women. The ERA movement was very much alive, equal pay for equal work, women's lib. These were kind of in the zeitgeist and The Bionic Woman was the first television show where the female in the superhero show or in the action show was not the wife of or the girlfriend of or the mother of the guy. And the statement was very simple: See, women can do what men do. I don't think we're talking about that anymore, certainly not as much. I don't think there's much question about that. There are a lot of different discussions being had now. It's not so much can a woman do what a man can do? It's if the answer's yes, what does that mean? How do we feel about it?”

Now, when female superheroes are so prevalent, the more common sentiment is that some women just want to be normal girls. “In this show, our character, our heroine is faced with a choice about whether to embrace the thing that she's become that makes her super, that makes her other than human, makes her unique, or embrace the things that make her a human being, that make her a family girl, that make her a big sister. And it seemed like those allegories were very prevalent and very rich and resonant right now like those allegories were in the old show. And so that's really the reason for the attempted remake and the title. It just felt timely.”

Of course, there will be no slow motion running and jumping with robotic sound effects this time around. “The aesthetic approach to the show is just a modern one. It's taking the tools that we now have as filmmakers and as storytellers, whether it's CG or advance compositing or motion capture. There are a lot of tools that you can use now to create the illusion of a super human being that, in those days, you didn't have. I suppose if the tone of the show was campy or retro or somehow satirical, it would make sense to do that, but it's really not. It's a drama first. We're really playing it pretty straight. And her unique abilities are intended to accentuate who she is and what she's going through emotionally, not just to give viewers eye candy.”

Bionic Woman premieres September 26 on NBC.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of NBC.

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