Fan-Cast: Bionic Reboot, part 4: Oscar Goldman

Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman

Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman

OK, having detoured into monster country, now we’re back to fan-casting the series regulars for our proposed Bionic Reboot. First up is the part of “Oscar Goldman”, Director of the O.S.I., a division of the U.S. State Department. [Fun fact: The acronym stood for “Office of Scientific Intelligence” in the series, as evidenced by ID cards and Oscar’s office door, but a couple of anomalous episodes have it as the “Office of Scientific Investigation” or “Office of Strategic Investigation” — likely production errors. It appeared to have officially changed to “Office of Scientific Information” in the reunion movies.] In the first TSMDM movie, the character was named “Oliver Spencer” and was played by Darren McGavin, just prior to his “Kolchak: The Night Stalker days”. I think this was consistent with the Cyborg novel, but don’t quote me on that.

I liked Richard Anderson (6’3″,b.1926) a lot in this role in the original “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” series. He was one part spymaster, two parts bureaucrat. But, he wasn’t too stuffy or unapproachable. And, while he had his share of arguments with his operatives, his compassion and concern for his people shown through, and he backed them up whenever and however he could. He was also, as I mentioned before, a sort of mentor — perhaps father-figure or “big brother” — to both Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers, the latter having lost both of her parents. Again, I would love to see this sort of relationship return in a reboot. (Maybe not at first, but developing as the characters work together and get to know each other.) A little more character development for Oscar would be nice, too.

Anderson had a trim physique and was in his late 40s when “The Six Million Dollar Man” began. That would work for my reboot idea, but I actually pictured Goldman being a little older — 50s, maybe pushing 60. The height is less important, but I think around 6′ or so is good.

I considered Jack Coleman (6’2″,b.1958) of “Heroes”; Laurence Fishburne (6’0.5″,b.1961) of “C.S.I.” and The Matrix movies; Henry Czerny (5’10”,b.1959) of “Revenge”; Jonathan Frakes (6’4″,b.1952) of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”; and Jon Tenney (6’1″,b.1961) of “The Closer”. I also really liked Bruce Thomas of “Kyle XY”, who once portrayed a quasi-retired Batman in an episode of the short-lived “Birds of Prey” series and has done genre voice-work, including “Commissioner Jim Gordon” in the upcoming “Son of Batman”. But, I think I’ve narrowed it down to these two finalists:

John Terry - closeup black jacket

John Terry

John Terry (6’2″,b.1950)

I realize he’s already over 60, so he falls outside my preferred age parameters. But, Terry is the first one I thought of who I really liked for the part. (I guess I was thinking of him from “24”, which was 10+ years ago. He was also on “Lost”.) He just seems like he would really fit the bill, and I think he has the talent to do a great job! Plus, in some pictures, he even looks a little like Richard Anderson.

 

 

 

 

Peter Woodward - portfolio shot, casual blue shirt

Peter Woodward

Peter Woodward (5’11”,b.1956)

A classically-trained British actor, Woodward has done a lot of genre work — e.g., “Brimstone”, “Charmed”, “Stargate: Atlantis”, “Babylon 5” spinoff “Crusade”, “Fringe”, the voice of Ra’s al Ghul in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”, and he can currently be seen in “Dracula”. I think I’d prefer the character with hair, but the bald head with chin-whiskers looks really good on him. I imagine Woodward could do a believable American accent, but having him be a Brit — maybe former MI-5 or MI-6? — might be an interesting twist.

 

 

 

 

Honorable mentions go to a couple guys I would love to see in regular roles again: First, Richard Dean Anderson (6’1.5″,b.1950) of “MacGuyver”, “Legend” (co-starring John “Q” de Lancie), and “Stargate SG-1” (w/ appearances in the spin-offs) fame. He is roughly the same age as Terry and has put on a little weight but still looks good. He played a colonel/general for several years, so he has the “authority figure” bit down. I think Anderson — no relation to the original “Oscar”, despite the old rumors — could make a great Oscar Goldman. Second is Kent McCord (6’2″,b.1942), best known (by those of us old enough to remember) from “Adam-12”, but also from genre fare like “Galactica 1980”, “SeaQuest 2032”, & “Farscape”. He hasn’t been in anything since 2005, and he is over 70, so I’m not sure about his health or desire to act anymore. But, he also might make a fine Oscar Goldman.

So,… who do you see as “Oscar”?

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.

Advertisements

Re-engineering the Bionic Woman

Speaking of cyborgs….

New Bionic_Woman and castA few years ago, I was excited to read that they were “bringing back” the Bionic Woman, Jaime Sommers. I had a bit of a crush on Lindsay Wagner from the original back in the mid-70s, and it was one of my favorite shows. The new show — call it a “reboot”, I suppose — debuted on 9/26/2007, starring Michelle Ryan. I liked it OK but was disappointed that they had changed a number of things for no good reason, as far as I could tell. For example, Jaime herself looked and acted very differently; she was now a bartender, not a tennis pro; she lived with her rebellious, teenage sister; the organization that gave Jaime her “updated” bionics was the Berkut Group, not the Office of Scientific Investigations (O.S.I.); her boss was some jerk named “Jonas Bledsoe”, not the fatherly Oscar Goldman; they gave her a bionic eye, in addition to the legs, arm, & ear; the bionics were now nanite-powered (really? default to nanites?); etc. In some ways, the darker, ethically-questionable, more secretive feel of the series seemed to be trying to capitalize on the popularity of “La Femme Nikita”. This all bugged me a bit, but, as with most things sci-fi, I was still willing to give it a chance.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one disappointed in the series, since it was quickly cancelled and ground to a halt after 8 episodes. So, at the time I decided to jot down a few ideas of what I thought they could do to revive and improve it.

1) Bring back Oscar Goldman, Rudy Wells, and the O.S.I. (Also, minimize any dark, shady aspects. These are the good guys!) Berkut should be renamed, re-organized/re-focused (maybe as a unit within the O.S.I.?), or maybe just disbanded. Jonas and (therapist) Ruth could be killed or reassigned. Not sure whether or not to keep the little sister.

2) Oscar should be a mentor and father figure to Jaime, while Rudy could be somewhat of an absentminded professor/uncle-type. (You know, like in the original series, where they actually liked each other and worked well together?) Maybe Rudy could be a former associate, then rival, of (nemesis) Anthros, who worked on his own version of the bionic technology for either a different government agency or an independent lab. [In fact, I would like to see a totally different approach to the “bionic” technology, blending “old school” with new.]

3) Spend more time training Jaime in espionage, guns, field tactics, etc. Maybe have flashbacks of her learning to control her strength, speed, etc. [This aspect of showing her training with one or more other operatives was one of the things that actually made sense in the reboot.]

4) Borrow from ‘Alias’, where a) there were one or two main opponent organizations whose activities are tracked; and b) operations/assignments should be planned in a briefing room w/ Oscar, Jaime, Rudy(?) and/or Nathan or Jae (assuming they keep those characters), and one or two senior operatives whom she could be alternately paired with on training missions.

Overall, the show seemed to be unfocused (to me, anyway) and in need of better writing. Most of the characters weren’t all that interesting or even likable. For one, I prefer the more lighthearted & fun-loving Jaime of old. (Maybe they would have had her lighten up a bit later on, after grieving for her fiance and “dealing” with the realities of her new life?) On a positive note, casting Katee Sackhoff as Jaime’s troubled, bionic opposite-number, Sarah Corvus, was brilliant! She did a great job, gloating in her superior skills, while also trying to convince Jaime to leave Berkut and join her. It was also a nice homage to Monte Markham’s “Seven Million Dollar Man” character, Barney Hiller/Miller, from “The Six Million Dollar Man”.

This leads me to another way I thought of to improve the show — namely, bring “Col. Steve Austin” into the picture by sort of mirroring the way Jaime Sommers was introduced in the original TSMDM series. I had a couple of background and story ideas back then, which I have fleshed out a little, here.

5) In season two, introduce Steve Austin. Steve and Jaime were high school sweethearts, with Steve being at least a couple years ahead of her. He graduated in 2001 and began attending community college that Fall. Then, one or both of Steve’s parents were killed in the 9/11 attacks. He enlisted, becoming an Air Force pilot. Meanwhile, he & Jaime became estranged and, when he was stationed overseas, they lost touch.

6) Now in 20XX, Steve appears on Jaime’s doorstep. After several tours in the Middle East and a brief stint in the now-defunct NASA Space Shuttle program, the newly-promoted colonel is about to begin working as a test pilot. Over the next few days, they spend a lot of time together and rekindle some old flames. Steve asks Jaime to come watch him on his first flight of a new supersonic jet. As in the original TSMDM, Steve has a terrible accident while landing and is near death. A distraught Jaime manages to convince Oscar to let Rudy operate on Steve and replace various parts with bionic ones. (Steve’s superb military record certainly works in his favor, since Oscar thinks he would make a good O.S.I. operative.)

7) Taking another cue from the original TSMDM/TBW, Steve suffers minor brain damage and doesn’t remember Jaime or their relationship. Nevertheless, he accepts her friendship and assistance in learning to accept (and use) his bionics. This aspect can, of course, be interspersed throughout 2 or 3 or more episodes.

8) At some point, Oscar tries to recruit Steve into working for the O.S.I. If he does it full-time, perhaps he would be assigned to another installation. Or, maybe he could agree to only the occasional assignment while he concentrates on relearning his piloting skills. Or, maybe they work out that he remains in the military for another 2 or 3 years (perhaps training recruits?), before beginning training with the O.S.I.? (Of course, this will be affected by whether or not Steve gets his own show.)

So,… thoughts? I think the old fans (like me) would really appreciate these changes, bringing back both the tone and some familiar characters/elements from the original series. New, younger viewers might like it better, too. As long as the casting and writing were up to snuff, it could be a popular show (or two) once again. And, speaking of casting, that’s what I’ll do in my next post….