REVIEWS: Chuck, Journeyman, Bionic Woman (9/29 TV Roundup)

I’m famous for not watching current television shows. I tend to pick them up later on DVD, if at all. This year, I have decided to watch some new TV rather than waiting months for the DVDs. With that goal in mind, I tried out a few new shows this week.

Chuck
Episode 101: Pilot
Airs Mondays at 8 PM Eastern, NBC
Official site
Though the blah title tried to turn me away, I taped this one on a whim and I’m sure glad I did. Chuck (Zachary Levi) is a geeky guy who is more comfortable with comic books and video games than he is with women. You know the type. He wants to write a five-year plan to improve his life, but hasn’t figured out the right font yet. His fingers are chafed from playing Call of Duty for hours on end. And his sister (Sarah Lancaster) has to invite women from her work over for his birthday party in hopes of getting him a date.

Chuck, who manages the Nerd Herd at Buy More, receives vital security information, and beautiful CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) arrives to retrieve it from him. It was a terrific premiere episode, with a proper mix of humor and action. Adam Baldwin (Superman Doomsday, Firefly) is also featured. McG, who was one of many directors once set to direct the fifth Superman movie before Bryan Singer took the reigns, directed the premiere and executive produces the series. Don’t miss it, folks. Rating: 10 (out of 10).

Journeyman
Episode 101: Pilot
Airs Mondays at 10 PM Eastern, NBC
Official site
When I saw the previews for this one, I immediately thought “Quantum Leap rip-off.” Still, I thought I’d give it a try. With no explanation or warning, Dan Vasser (Kevin McKidd) suddenly finds that he has traveled back in time. His disappearances and bizarre behaviors in the current timeline cause his family and friends to think that he’s on drugs. Dan has no control over the time traveling, though he begins to find a mission of sorts linking his various journeys.

I’m not sure how well Journeyman will fare with the general public (i.e., people who do not visit The Film Frontier on a regular basis). A lot of the time travel indications are rather subtle. Sometimes, you can tell he’s gone back in time based on which hosts of the Today show happen to appear on TV screens. International audiences and others who do not regularly watch NBC may miss this entirely. Time travel stories are interesting but can often be confusing if not handled properly. They will have to be careful not to lose the audience.

The premiere starts off rather slowly, and initially I was thinking I probably would not be watching again next week. About halfway through, though, things finally pick up when a mystery begins to unfold. This is probably one of those season-long or series-long mysteries. Journeyman could be promising and is worth checking out. Oh, and it didn’t feel like a Quantum Leap rip-off after all. Rating: 7.

Bionic Woman
Episode 101: Pilot
Airs Wednesdays at 9 PM Eastern, NBC
Official site
I missed the original version of this series, though I’ve certainly heard a lot about it over the years. In this new series, Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) is involved in a horrible car crash and loses both of her legs, an arm, and an eye. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for her, her boyfriend happens to be an expert in bionic technology and he rebuilds her.

There is a great scene in the premiere that looks like it would’ve been a fantastic cameo for Lindsay Wagner, the original Bionic Woman. Jaime sprints past a car driving along at a high speed. A little girl in the car tries to point her out to her mother, who is driving. The mother never sees her and tells her daughter not to make up stories. Though Wagner does not play the mother, it just feels like it was written as a cameo.

Maybe it’s because the scene is likely an homage to the classic scene in the extended version of Richard Donner’s Superman in which a little girl on a train (Lois) sees a teenaged Clark running past and her mom won’t believe her. Her mother was Noel Neill, the original live-action Lois Lane. Her father, Kirk Alyn, the original live-action Superman.

The Bionic Woman premiere is not great, but is interesting enough to warrant tuning in again next week. Ryan does a fantastic job in the lead and is very reminiscent of Helen Slater (Supergirl), one of my favorites. Rating: 6.

By the way, if you missed any of these episodes, you can watch them in their entirity on NBC.com through the links I have provided above. Seems that I didn’t have to worry about recording them with my archaic VCR and VHS tapes after all.