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BIONIC LADYLAND: NBC has been hogging all the air at this summer’s TV critics press tour, and the latest morsel dangled in front of the media is Bionic Woman – no “The” this time around – and its handful of potential scandals. First of all there’s Katee Sackhoff, whose cameo role in the pilot has turned into a regular role after nail-biting last-minute contract negotiations that prevented her from appearing on Tuesday’s panel for the show, according to a Hollywood Reporter story.
Sackhoff, who is still apparently committed to a regular role on Battlestar Galactica after her Starbuck, her character, was resurrected in the last moments of the last season’s cliffhanger ending, was initially cast by David Eick, who is executive producer for Galactica and Bionic Woman. It was convenient, since both shows were filming in Vancouver at the same time, but when it came time to expand her role, Sackhoff held out for better terms right until just before the panel convened.
Then there’s the hiring of Isaiah Washington, disgraced after being ousted from Grey’s Anatomy for a homophobic slur, whose presence as part of a 5-part story arc on the show has already led to speculation that he’ll alienate the audience for a show that still hasn’t aired – and especially Sackhoff’s supposedly considerable lesbian following. It all seems so abstract.
And finally, we have the controversy around the sister of Michelle Ryan’s Jaime Sommers, who was played by actress Mae Whitman as deaf in the original pilot, to protests – or anticipated protests, it’s hard to tell these days – from the deaf community, as Whitman isn’t hearing-impaired. The character was re-cast since the pilot played at June’s upfronts, and Lucy Hale will be playing the Bionic Woman’s sister with her hearing intact, a creative decision described – with blizzard-like clarity – by executive producer Jason Smilovic to New Jersey Star-Ledger TV critic Alan Sepinwall thusly:
“Originally, the character was deaf,” said Smilovic. “Without going into too much detail, it's that we wanted to create an organic way for - Jaime was originally working in a lab. She was going to be assigned to these chimpanzees. The chimpanzees were going to Dr. Anthros, to this gentleman right here (co-star Chris Bowers), who was using them for experimentation. He would come down to get the chimpanzees and he would - you know, they sort of fell in love during that time. And we were looking for a - an organic way for her to be talking to the chimpanzees in sign language. Of course, the chimpanzees disappeared. The lab disappeared. The sign language - the deaf sister stayed, but now she's disappeared as well.”
I hope you’ve got all that. Just don’t ask them to explain what happened to Oscar Goldman or Steve Austin.