NBC Pilots OnDemand – The SF Science Fiction of “Journeyman” and “Bionic Woman”

Despite NBC’s catfight with Apple, resulting in the removal of new NBC shows on iTunes, you can catch many of the pilots for NBC on Comcast OnDemand. Last night I had a chance to watch the Bionic Woman remake, Journeyman, and Life.
I’d mentioned Journeyman earlier here when I did a roundup of all those TV shows set in San Francisco. As an added bonus, it turns out Bionic Woman is also sort-of-set in San Francisco – at least in the opening scenes, we’re told that Jamie Sommers is a bartender in San Francsico (but like the other project David Eick co-produces, Battlestar Galactica, it is primariliy filmed in Vancouver, BC).
I won’t rehash the long chatter about why all those much ballyhooed “tax credits” the politicians promote have failed so miserably (read the old article for that little lecture) but instead just marvel how, especially in the case of Journeyman, they did a pretty impressive job of making the mix of location and L.A. shots pretty seamless.
In an article on SciFi.com, executive producer Kevin Falls talked about how he was “new” to doing scifi on TV and the challenges he faced as he was new to the genre.
Mr. Falls need not worry, for Journeyman is truly a good piece of science fiction. Yes, the time travel thing and whatnot is obvious, but there are other elements spotted in the pilot that make this truly a piece of science fiction:
-Our Hero is a reporter for a newspaper called The San Francisco Register and apparently makes enough to afford both a huge victorian and a fancy Mustang, which he wrecks.
-Our Hero does actual investigative pieces as a reporter for a big daily in SF about the Mayor, and apparently spends time following up with multiple sources, which delays his finished piece by a day.
-Said newspaper is full of reporters and editors in a huge office downtown, working on multiple investigative pieces and doing their own work at any moment. The editor does not beat any one up, nor does he fire most of the staff to save money. Instead he cracks the whip and makes everyone turn in their work on time, and demands they check sources. He frowns on blogs, but not in “that way.”
-In this alternate reality, MUNI buses drive fast enough on Taylor Street to knock a guy into the solar system and back. They also run an “18 Columbus” bus on Market Street for our friends in North Beach. It’s not a smelly diesel one either.
-MUNI also runs on time,all the time, and F-Market streetcars are fast enough to potentially mow down a hapless dude in 1987.
-Also, the SFPD has a huge main headquarters where Our Hero’s brother is a detective. This alternate reality has detectives using a faux Google on iPhones to solve crimes. Oh, and yeah, they really do solve a lot of crimes, and no doubt with Our Hero’s new ability, he can help brother detective solve all those murders and stuff.
-No word yet on whether this version of Earth has a San Francisco D.A. that fights crime effectively, but the writers and producers have to be careful. If they pile up too many unbelieveable premises all at once, the “suspension of disbelief” starts to falter.
And so on. You get the idea. Go watch it and see what you think!
PS: The Bionic Woman is not without its own scifi:
– nanotechnology to make people super strong? – believable, sorta
– a shadowy government agency that’s trying to create supersoliders? – sure, why not
– bartenders in San Francisco who can afford huge flats for themselves and their younger sister, apparently sans rent control? – now that is science fiction!

Leave a Reply