SCORE: 3 out of 4 Tennis Balls
January 28, 1976
Mood Ring: Orange
The Bionic Woman went into the army with Andy Griffith tonight and pretended she was a nurse and their helicopter crashed but they rescued some people and Jaime bent the wheels on their airplane so they could fly home. It was a good show and Jaime was really funny. She hates snakes and kills them.
August 5, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Blue
While The Bionic Woman is busy looking like she stepped off the cover of a 70s Vogue, cooking award-winning recipes, running 60 mph in an easy jog, smashing Fembots, rescuing dogs, becoming teacher of the year, surviving brain surgery without even messing up her hair, and yes—even occasionally saving the world…. FINALLY something Jaime Sommers sucks at: Nursing.
Oh. Thank. God.
Bring on our Angel of Mercy! How much do I love this episode for the simple reason we get to see Jaime be not perfect for a change? Plus some great humor when the Bionic Woman goes toe-to-toe with one of the legends of television.
Mayberry Memorial: Andy Griffith passed away just last month, which made this episode kinda bittersweet to go back and revisit. In the years between Mayberry and Matlock, Griffith stayed fairly active doing guest parts on TV shows and miniseries, and given his cachet, I think we were pretty lucky to have him come off the bench and grace the set of The Bionic Woman one week. So to honor him, I'm starting out tonight by raising a toast to—as Barney used to call him— "Andj." Well okay, not that I don't start every episode with a toast, but this time I actually have a semi-excuse.
The Bionic Woman was approximately one minute late for her TV show tonight. (Notice how she cleverly eases into this pattern.) After her students recite the pledge of allegiance, Jaime starts today's lesson with current events because she didn't have time to read the paper today. Resident bookworm Andrew (played by child star Robbie Rist
—who was busy being the cute Mensa kid in everything in the 70s, including The Brady Bunch and The Mary Tyler Moore Show) raises his hand, and offers to provide some exposition, by telling the class all about a U.S. Ambassador that went missing in the South American country of Costa Brava. Jaime asks Andrew if he knows what a civil war is. "Yeah, it's people from the same country fighting each other." And then Jaime, in a surprising twist, makes an early guest appearance as Dr. Sommers:
"How do you feel about that?"
Ooh, careful how you answer this Andrew, because the outcome will either show the class you have a healthy grasp of current events, or serious psychological issues with your mother. I would recommend just saying "Beam me up, Scotty." <---This clever approach used by one of her patients in The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman quickly ended the therapy session.
Andrew decides to go in a vague direction for his feelings about civil wars with, "I don't know Miss Sommers. It all seems so far away." Excellent and very Star Treky-ish. Dr. Sommers lets him off the hook. Later, just as the kids were finishing up a test, suddenly R-I-N-G… R-I-N-G… a black phone rings on Jaime's desk in front of the classroom, which rudely disrupts the students’ concentration.
WTF ? When did Miss Sommers get a Batphone? (And why would school policy permit a telephone—which she embarrassingly forgot to set to ‘vibrate’— right there in class, especially when its obvious purpose here is to enable the teacher to take personal calls and conduct her top-secret, government agent business on the side.) I'm giving this new desk prop 100 points, simply because I have been laughing non-stop for the last five minutes. And then I’m giving scriptwriter James D. Parriott an hour of detention for failing to do his plot-shortcut homework.
Just then the bell rings, so Jaime puts the (undisclosed) caller on palm hold and skedaddles the kids off and tells them to have a really nice weekend. Which, because she's holding the Batphone, is code for I obviously have to crappin' work my other job now.
Goober Says Hey: What a surprise, it's Oscar calling from onboard an air force B or F-whatever (Where is Steve Austin when you need him?) I have no earthly idea what these aircrafts are. It was a big plane with no TWA logo. Anyway, Oscar is landing at the base in 15 minutes to pick Jaime up for an assignment. Huh? Jaime is completely caught off guard with this lack of courtesy lead time from her government boss. I mean, she doesn't even have time to pack a great wardrobe. I bet she really wishes she could use last week's script where she got to exercise her bionic cocktail waitress attitude and threaten to throw her boss through a wall.
It's Off To Work I Go: In the next scene with Jaime on board, a pilot radios the tower with "code Snow White requesting clearance for take off." Oscar tells his Disney Princess to "get strapped in." Whew, at least he didn't hand Jaime a parachute this time. Those missions are now apparently strictly reserved for 007 and his sidekick the Queen of England, as witnessed in the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, where Her Majesty completely ripped off the Bionic Woman's TV show entrance, but thankfully landed safely in the stadium and did not require any royal bionic limb replacements.
After Oscar calls Jaime "sweetheart" (hey…Ima tell Steve you're flirting with his girlfriend again) he asks her to listen to a message recorded on an old reel-to-reel tape. It's the voice of the American Ambassador George Moorehouse, who is trying to send a distress call from inside (fictional) Costa Brava where he is trapped with the Mrs. Ambassador under some rubble. Whoa, what are the odds? That's the same current event Andrew was just talking about in class. Oscar obsessively rewinds the "help us Obiwan" message too many times and breaks the machine, so Jaime offers to bionic rewind the tape for him. There, she has now repaid her obligation to the U.S. Government in full. Can she please go home now and just sleep all weekend like the rest of us?
Jaime Sommers, R.N.: Oscar informs Jaime she's going undercover as a nurse to rescue them, hoping that a medic team in this civil war-torn country will be granted neutrality and won't get shot at in the guerrilla warfare. Ut oh, Jaime starts backpedaling and says she can't even apply a band aid—much less pull off an occupation as a nurse. No problem. Oscar hands her a first aid manual and gives her 2 hours to cram for her nursing degree. Jaime flips to the page about how to stop arterial bleeding and cringes. I completely sympathize. This stuff is gross! But maybe she'll at least get a designer uniform out of this gig.
Mood Ring Seriously and Suddenly Green: When they land in Sao Paulo, Jaime emerges from the plane wearing a standard issue green army uniform with a red cross patch. Oh lordy, it’s G.I. Jaime. I can see wardrobe is not going to be kind to us tonight. (So, was this like a Gomer Pyle Mayberry team trade?) But I admit this uniform was kinda cute on Jaime. And when this episode is over, I bet Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies might like to have those combat boots back.
And then (whistle fishing theme) Andy Griffith as Sheriff 'Jack Starky' Taylor arrives to pick her up, a crusty old helicopter pilot who doesn't think this war zone is any place for a woman. Jaime seems a bit caught off-guard by his sexist attitude at first, but manages to refrain from comment. And then Oscar kisses her goodbye on the cheek and tells her to be careful. Starky witnesses this and reacts with disgust, "I don't believe this!"
Neither do we, Starky. THIS IS STEVE'S GIRLFRIEND!!!
Fallen Angel: With Sheriff Starky and G.I. Jaime on board, the copter takes off and enters the war zone, but quickly takes on enemy fire by the guerrillas below, causing the steering to get jammed by the bullet barrage. Starky begins to lose control of the craft in a "She's breaking up" kind of way, but Jaime prevents another bionic series by reaching back to pull some steering cable, which somehow diminishes the severity of their crash landing.
M*A*S*H* Unit: The helicopter hits the ground, but hooray Jaime is okay. She climbs out and then bionics the pilot’s door to get Sheriff Starky out, who is unconscious with blood on his forehead. Jaime kicks into dutiful nurse action, gets the first aid kit, locates the ammonia inhalants and then takes a whiff. OMG I love Jaime’s face here. This is absolutely one of my favorite scenes in this series. (Refresh this web page to see the animated gif.) -->
Once Nurse Sommers realizes she's supposed to use the inhalants on the PATIENT, Sheriff Starky regains consciousness. He asks Jaime, "What kind of nurse are you, I'm bleedin'!" Jaime responds with hesitation. Wait for it. Wait for it...
Oh... "Want me to bandage it?" Again with the comedy here… priceless.
Special Forces: In the following scene Jaime has applied a gauze bandage around Starky’s forehead, but he makes fun of how loose it is. So Jaime pushes the adhesive tape on his forehead harder as payback. Haha. Angry Bird Score: 50 points.
And then Sheriff Starky and Jaime have their first big fight. She's determined to march on to rescue the ambassador. But he thinks it's already a failed mission and just wants to get the heck out of there. They decide to head towards the depot where the ambassador might be trapped, and maybe they can find some kind of vehicle or plane there to return to base.
Rattle On: In the next scene, they are hiking along the Mayberry jungle fishing hole, where Jaime is startled by a snake about to strike Starky, so she grabs it and, I dunno... STRANGLES IT TO DEATH! This scene is shocking—even for Jaime, who seems surprised at her own violent reaction. Then Jaime shudders and I-do-declares:
Shock! Sweet mother of mellow known as Miss Sommers, I believe a more suitable decree here might be to admit "I FEAR snakes." I fear them so much that I am willing to crush them with my bare bionic hands, either in an act of self-defense, or in an effort to protect others… Although you will never see the Bionic Woman harm any other living (or rubber) creature on this series because everything else deserves to live. But snakes? Out of Jaime’s way, mother-effers!
Like a s-sssserial killer out of control, Jaime will kill again. And by the end of this series, she will have collected enough dead serpents to own a nice pair of snakeskin boots. And a matching purse. She could even have a full designer line on the QVC Shopping Network: Sommers Snakeskin Apparel. Crippled and Crafted by Hand.™ If God had created Adam and Jaime, the serpent in that story never would have made it past the first commercial in the Garden of Eden, completely altering the course of biblical history. Wait. How did we wind up in the Old Testament? Oh yeah, Andy Griffith.
Needle in a Haystack: Next, Jaime and Starky come across a soldier pinned under a tree in the woods. Even though the guerilla is on the wrong side of the war, Jaime compassionately insists they stop to help him. She bionic lifts the tree with her combat-booted foot and pretends to let Starky's strength take the credit. But then she cringes when it comes to giving the wounded soldier a pain killer with a needle. By this point, Starky begins to catch on that Nurse Sommers may not be a real nurse after all. He gives the guy the shot instead.
Boys In Uniform: With some kind of pinging device, Jaime and Starky find the depot where the ambassador is trapped. Here, they come upon a 12-year old boy named Opie, I mean Julio, who is a war orphan dressed like a guerrilla fighter. Jaime bandages his injured foot. Hey, her nursing skills appear to be improving. Pretty soon she'll be able to play that "Operation" board game without setting off the little malpractice surgery buzzer.
And then I really love this next scene when Jaime and Starky fight again—Jaime wants to bring the boy with them, Starky wants to leave him behind because he'll slow them down. Director Alan J. Levi framed the camera with just Jaime and Starky in each other’s faces, arguing like an umpire and a player. Way cool. Here, Starky even summons a classic Barney Southern Rap rant with his line: "Not in a blue moon, a month of Sundays or till Biloxi, Mississippi freezes over am I walkin' thru the jungle with a kid on my back. And that's final!"
Back After These Messages: How much did I love seeing Ms. Wagner and Mr. Griffith act together? It would be the first of several good episodes in the series where Jaime would be partnered with gruff, older male characters—always firmly set in their old-fashioned beliefs about a woman's place. This provided the perfect springboard for the Bionic Woman to prove them wrong—and not just with her heroic physical strength. Jaime would boldly stand up to them, too.These stubborn father figures eventually come around with a newfound respect for Jaime’s determination and strength. This light, Tracey/Hepburn character conflict match was a clever way to bring out Jaime's feminist side without being too overtly forceful on the subject. Well done.
The Crying Game: Then Sheriff Starky and G.I. Jaime reach the depot where the ambassador and his wife—who, incidentally, has done nothing but cry in every single scene so far, and shall henceforth be known as the Whimpering Wife… are buried in some bomb shelter basement thing under tons of rubble. Jaime of course can hear them pounding for help with her bionic ear. While Julio and Starky are out of bionic witness range, she clears away all the concrete debris and opens the hatch.
The ambassador is okay and crawls out, and then Jaime goes down to rescue Whimpering Wife. Hey, whell no whonder she's whimpering all the time, her legs were crushed under a beam. But no prob, Jaime gets her out to the delight of whorn-out audiences, who are beginning to feel like they've been sitting next to an infant on an airplane this entire episode. But Nurse Sommers has the good sense not to try to administer first aid on the woman—knowing full well her failed efforts would probably just inflict additional pain and cause the Whimpering Wife to cry even louder.
Escape Plane Update: Starky says the landing gear on an old abandoned plane at the depot is "pretzels." The guerrilla fighters are closing in. Starky insists it can't be fixed. Jaime says, "I am SICK and TIRED of you telling me what I can't do!" So this time she doesn't even try to hide her bionics and bends the wheels back into place right in front of him. "What kind of woman are you?" Starky asks. "A very frightened one." Jaime replies. I mean for godsakes, there are icky snakes in this jungle. Get The Bionic Woman outta there!
No Child Left Behind: With the guerrillas closing in even closer now, Jaime bionics the propeller and it finally starts on the second attempt. It's a tiny plane, and by the time the Ambassador and Whimpering Wife climb in, plus Starky and Jaime, there is no room for little orphan Julio. Starky says the boy will overload them and cannot come. OMG, little Julio's face is so sad here. And then Jaime begs in desperation, "Oh Starky, PLEASE!"
By now the guerrillas are shooting at them. So Starky grants Jaime's appeal, grabs the kid and makes room for him on his lap. I gotta say this was a pretty suspenseful action scene where they try to outrun the rebel jeeps and bullets on the jungle runway and barely get their weight-over-capacity airplane off the ground. It finally sails over a cliff at the end of the runway and flies into the sunset. Sweet.
Back at the U.S. Air Force base in Sao Paulo, Starky is carrying the boy piggyback again, and tells Jaime he plans to care for Julio until he's placed in a foster home. You get the sense the old softie is probably going to become a “Pa” again and wind up adopting him. And also, that even though Jaime promises the tearful Julio she will come back and visit him, she likely never did. This scene kills me. As well as the part where Jaime cries when she bids goodbye to the irreplaceable Andy Griffith. *sniff*
Luck Be A Lady: In school on Monday, Andrew gives Miss Sommers an update on current events, saying some hotshot helicopter pilot rescued that ambassador, and was quoted as saying he would not have made it if it '"hadn't been for lady luck.”
Andrew goes on to read from the paper... that also rescued were the ambassador’s Whimpering Wife and a young boy named “Joo-Leo.” Jaime corrects Andrew's mis-pronunciation. That's “Hoo-Leo.” Andrew assumes Miss Sommers has already read the article. She just smiles and reminds him:
“No, I'm a teacher. I'm supposed to know things like that.” *
*Disclaimer. Teacher of course does not imply effectiveness as a school nurse.
Mood ring: Blue
Angry Bird Snake Score: 250 points
Nursing Skills: 250 point deduction.
Total: 0 ...OMG Jaime Sommers is HUMAN! How much do I love happy endings?
A bit barren this week in the wardrobe cupboard–only 3 outfits. Jaime wore a pretty blue, long sleeved dress with cowl neck collar in class at the beginning, topped with a white wool coat later. Then, the G.I. Jaime army green uniform with cap and combat boots, followed at the end with a lovely brown dress.
THE BIONIC WOMAN 1X03
Mayberry has a new bionic nurse, and she isn’t getting along very well with the Sheriff... or the snakes.
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