There are those who will criticize the show, and not unfairly, saying that it had weak plots, suffered from inconsistencies in tone, and that Michelle Ryan was frequently overshadowed by her fellow Bionic Woman, Katee Sackhoff. I won't say they're wrong either - the show was clearly still finding its feet. But it showed potential, and despite declining audiences I think that each episode was better than the one before it.
Still, in a tight marketplace, it seems like the networks are unwilling to give shows the opportunity to find their own character - much less find an audience. And I guess we can't expect them to air shows that they may be losing money on.
But sadly, I think that most genre shows need the time to develop, and they often don't get it. The Crow: Stairway to Heaven was a great show, and easily the best sequel to the original The Crow movie, but given a rough timeslot on USA, it never found an audience and was canceled with only a single season to its' credit. The same thing happened to The Flash over on CBS. A weak name and uncertain times kept people from finding one of the greatest adaptations of a superhero to the small screen. The WB had a short-lived adaptation of Birds of Prey on the air. It is generally agreed that the show needed help - but it was improving. The last few episodes of the show are easily the best ones, and I wonder how the show might have ended up, given a little more time.
And I can't help but wonder about shows that we now regard highly, and wondering how we would think of them if we judged them only on their first half-season. The first season of Smallville was little more than a re-hash of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with kryptonite-powered "freaks of the week" serving as stand-ins for the vampires and demons. The show moved past this rather flimsy premise, and began to explore Clark's Kryptonian heritage, and what it meant to grow up with superhuman powers but pretending to be a normal human. The strong fan-base which follows Superman gave it enough of an audience for The WB to stick with Smallville long enough to develop into what it has become, but if the Superman mythos hadn't been attached to the show, would it have lasted? I somehow doubt it.
And of course, there is the grand-daddy of all genre shows: Star Trek. Specifically, Star Trek: The Next Generation. When Captain Picard and crew originally began their seven-year mission, the episodes were uneven at best. But the series survived due to legions of rabid Trekkies who wanted to see some version of the Enterprise back on the air so badly following a twenty-year absence. A loyal fan-base to the property (not the specific show) kept the show on the air long enough for the writers and producers to figure out the proper direction for the show. And thank goodness they did - Seasons 2 through 5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation are among the best in science-fiction television programming ever created.
So, knowing now that Bionic Woman isn't coming back, I will simply resign myself to the fact that there will be no further tales told of Jamie Somers and the Berkut group. And eventually the DVD of the show's first (and only) season will be released, and I'll grab it. It will go great on my shelf next to The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, Invasion, The Flash and Firefly.
Come back next week for another look at what's happening in superhero film and television that goes beyond the surface. Until then, allow me to cry out as I depart, "Up, up and away!"
Which superhero tv shows do you think were cut too soon? Leave your thoughts on our forums! And if you have a topic you'd like to see explored here, leave an idea on the forum, or e-mail me at [email protected].