Vulcan’s Peak

Turns out that Wellworth Watching was…

September 29, 2007 1:20 pm

…well worth watching! (Do you remember that Mathnet, Carmen?)

But can the same be said of the genre shows that have premiered this week? Here’s a sampling:

Bionic Woman. She isn’t Seven of Nine until they put her in a catsuit.

Journeyman. I can’t make the comparisons to Quantum Leap because I never watched that.

Moonlight. Referred to in some corners of the internet as “the show that isn’t Angel.”

I know nothing about the old Bionic Woman, so this is all new to me — the young woman (Jamie Sommers) who is in a car crash with her surgeon/professor/bionics expert boyfriend. He is largely unscathed, but she is dying — at least until he has her taken to the Top Secret Government Lab and replaces both legs, an arm, an eye, and an ear with bionic parts. Of course, she wakes up and freaks out. Meanwhile, the Top Secret Government people are freaking out that Boyfriend has abused his position as one of them to save Jamie’s life. They are very much interested in a bionic person, but for military purposes, and of course, she’s a civilian. The question of what to do with her goes around in circles for a while while she grows frustrated with being kept in the underground facility (SG-1 is probably next door). Boyfriend helps her escape and she runs home on her bionic legs, but not before he impresses upon her the importance of keeping her new strengths a total secret. Of course — which leads us to the age-old struggle of the superhero to keep her family and friends from knowing about her powers. In Jamie’s case, that means her sister. Buffy-style, mom is dead and dad’s a deadbeat, and we are shown early on that there’s a lot of tension in the sisters’ relationship. Naturally, lying about where she’s been for several days is a great addition. I’m tired of this angst already. The end of the episodes shows Jamie, in her night job as a bartender, encountering Rogue Bionic Woman (who, coincidentally, caused Jamie’s car crash in the first place), following her, and fighting. On a rooftop. In the rain.

Boys, have fun with this. Call me if it improves.

Seriously, though, the ideas and issues behind the show are interesting and worth considering, but I’ll probably wait and see if this matures or fizzles before trying to get invested in these characters. I want more from character interaction than just angst or exposition.

If the Bionic Woman has a minimum of personal connections, the Journeyman (Dan) has a veritable spider’s web of them. He has an estranged brother (Jack), who used to date his wife (Katie), back when he was engaged to another woman (Livia), who has since died in a plane crash. He also has a boss (his editor at the San Francisco Chronicle) who knows the ins and outs of his personal life — apparently this marriage has been on the rocks at least once. And oh yeah, there’s a kid, a boy of about seven who takes piano lessons.

The point of all this seems to be that when Dan suddenly wakes up in 1987 and doesn’t reappear in 2007 for two days, lots of people worry. In fact, the 2007 plotline — in just the pilot, mind you — includes an anniversary, a twice-missed deadline, a car crash, accusations of drug-use, an intervention, a piano recital, and upgrading his wife’s wedding ring. Meanwhile, in the past Dan keeps running into two people. One is a man who also has some serious relationship problems, and the other is Livia, the dead fiancee (and how do you like the moral issue of almost cheating on your wife in the past with your dead girlfriend?). Like Dan, we have no time to breathe in this episode.

Obviously, there’s a lot of relationship angst in this show too, and the burden of secrecy weighs pretty heavily as well. I was pleased that he did try to confide in his wife (did I mention the accusations of drug-use and the intervention?), and the final scene with the ring saved the show for me. I’m interested in how the implications of that promise will affect the next few episodes. What I’m not interested in watching is the train wreck of an adulterous relationship develop (with the adorable kid caught in the middle), and that’s a direction that would be all too easy for the writers to take.

Oddly enough, the vampire show is the most light-hearted of these three, which I thought was a nice relief. The opening was shot as if it were an interview with the vampire (go ahead and groan, Anne Rice fans), which (a) felt very contrived (and out of universe — who is supposedly interviewing him?), and (b) felt like a deliberate attempt to distance the show from BuffyandAngel and all the other vampire stories out there. Which is to say that he answered all the questions like “do you sleep in a coffin?” (no, in a freezer), “how can you kill a vampire?” (fire and decapitation; no stakes in this show), “what about garlic and sunlight” (garlic tastes good on a pizza and sunlight, conveniently, just gives him a headache or something). It’s also made clear later in the episode that our hero, Mick St. John is not a vampire-with-a-soul — in fact, souls don’t seem to be the issue, and vampires seem to be more human than monster (I suppose taking the view that humans can be plenty monstrous as it is). He’s merely a vampire with a conscience. Less Angel, more Highlander. Maybe the vampire equivalent of a vegan (because of course our hero doesn’t feed on live humans — he’s got a change-of-heart story in his past). He’s not out to cleanse L.A. of demons, nor is he sponsored by the Powers the Be: he’s just a private investigator. And he’s got an actual license.

And characterwise, Mick is very much not Angel — he’s more like the suave guy Xander so desperately wants to be. He’s contrasted with his vampire friend Josef, a paranoid hedonist whose redeeming characteristic seems to be his very dry sense of humor. The last part of the equation is Beth, a reporter who has the look and feel of police detective Kate Lockley from Angel. There’s clearly a friendship and a partnership in the works here. The writing didn’t have any Whedon-esque spark to it, but wasn’t painful, and though the mystery of the week was on the lame end of the spectrum, Mick and Beth are likable. It could be fun.

What worries me about the future of this show was that they showed a montage of stuff to come for which they used a Celine Dion song and hinted strongly at the possibility of a relationship between Mick and Beth. I love the idea of a Mulder/Scully partnership (though what I really mean is Monday/Frankley for the Mathnet nerds out there), but I’m not interested in the schmoopiness: partly because he rescued her from another vamp when she was about seven, which casts him as a father figure; partly because he’s been watching over her ever since, which casts him as a stalker. So double eww. But until they go there, I’m in.

2 Responses to “Turns out that Wellworth Watching was…”

Tae wrote a comment on September 29, 2007

*snerk* Very amusing synopsis. If you want good/decent vampire police stuff- you should find “Forever Knight”- almost the same idea except the guy (Nick Knight- yes I know) has a CSI lady on his side trying to cure him. It’s a little more traditional on the vamp stuff, but he’s got a cool evil mentor guy.
Also, random trivia- the ‘girl’ on the show also voice Jean Grey on the old X-Men cartoon show.

Odette wrote a comment on September 30, 2007

Glad you enjoyed. Yeah, “Forever Knight” is the other name that keeps coming up in “what is Moonlight ripping off” discussions — I didn’t mention it because I don’t really know anything about it. But if you recommend it, I’ll seek it out at some point.

I bet you could do a “Six Degrees of X-Men” thing. 😉

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