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Series: Bionic Break Up

One of the things that I bang on about quite often here on EOL is the detrimental effect which results when creative control over a project (be it for film, television, or other wise) is taken away from the ‘rightful owner’ of the creative content. A good example can be found just by watching PainKiller Jane, should you be able force yourself to do such a thing (I guess that’s TWO things I bang on about now).

Painkiller Jane was doomed from the start – not because it isn’t a cool idea, or a cool comic. And not even because it’s an idea that wouldn’t translate well from the pages of the comic to a serialized hour long. But because the people who bought the rights to make the show, did so from the start with the intention of changing it… why? Your guess is as good as mine there – but here’s what PKJ co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti had to say about the show, and it’s recent cancelation:

I think what didn’t work, and I will say this again, is taking a character that works in the comic that people love and changing it to fit someone else’s idea of what it should be, is setting yourself up for failure…. The show was more about a group and not the single character and when you have the people running the show proudly saying the show is nothing like the comic, you start to question why they bought the property in the first place [source]

Taking control over creative content and messing with a formula that already works is tantamount to grabbing the wheel of a car when someone else is driving: You may do alright while you’re going in a straight line, but as soon as you reach the first corner you realise that, while you do have command, you simply don’t have the right perspective to keep things under control… at which point, you careen off the road, hit a tree, fly through the windshield and slam, face first, into… I dunno, a cactus? And, to once again flog an analogy for all it’s worth, you’re even less likely to make it to the corner in the first place, if the other guy is fighting you for control.

Sadly it looks like, before it even airs, The Bionic Woman may end up suffering from similar creative issues.

The pilot has been ‘retooled’, which in itself isn’t unusual — many series go through changes before the first episode airs, in some extreme cases characters are written out or even recast — but what is unusual is that a pilot that was so damn good to begin with has been as extensively retooled as it appears that this one has.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to preview the new cut, according to Buddy TV’s Jon Lachonis the mood of the show has been changed fairly dramatically:

If you have never seen the original version of the pilot, count yourself amongst the lucky.  The trimming and character shuffling most definitely seems like a dumbing down to any self respecting viewer… [source]

As a rule I try to keep an open mind about these things and seldom implicitly trust the perspective of some random internet schmoe — I mean, ME you can trust… just not some OTHER internet schmoe! — but what lends some credibility to Lachonis’ opinion is the news that writer/producer Glen Morgan has parted ways with the show, sighting “Creative Differences”.

Just as a quick introduction, for those unfamiliar with Glen Morgan’s work: He, usually in the company of his writing partner James Wong or brother Darin Morgan, played a part in some of the best (in this schmoe’s opinion) science fiction to have ever graced television screens. From X-files episodes like “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” and “Tooms”, Millennium episodes like “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me”, “Jose Chung’s ‘Doomsday Defense'” and “The Curse of Frank Black”, to the sci-fi episode that has made the strongest and most lasting impression on me ever: “Who Monitors the Birds?”, from the [so so] series Space: Above and Beyond.

Needless to say I hold Morgan’s work in high regard and to learn that he has left the series and that the Bionic Woman has been substantially reworked (The series I mean, although, yeah, she does get reworked too… that’s the whole point of the show), my concern is that this series, which showed so much potential in the original pilot, has been watered down and we’ll end up with something akin to the Flash Gordon series…. Which sucks! (there I go, banging on again) [source]

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    I’ve never understood why those that purchase the rights to any sort of property such as comics, video-games, cereal box characters, etc. decide to proclaim how theres is something NEVER BEFORE SEEN or NEW AND DIFFERENT, especially when they seem to base so much of their media campaigns on the fanbase of the original property anyway. Seems to be just an easy way for people to say “we took what we want, now go wedgie yourselves”

  • I agree with Morgs… Nothing worse than a creative wedgie.

    Particularly if you do it to yourself.