Posted by: movieotaku | October 6, 2007

New Season of TV SF

Hooey! Sorry for the gap, but I was busy/tired/sick/tired/tired/tired (who ever came up with working for a living should be… well…) Anyway…

Talk about spoiled for riches. After what seemed like a drought of SF (Speculative Fiction in this case) on TV, we’ve got a bunch of them all at once.

I’ll talk about the ones I’ve been watching.

Bionic Woman (NBC, Wednesdays at 9 pm)

I was never a big fan of the original series. I only remember one scene from my childhood: Linsey Wagner ripping a phone book in half. I also remember hearing that Linsey Wagner was an awful interview because she just sat there and gave one word answers. But I digress. This time, the bionics are a little Ghost in the Shell‘ish with micromachines and high powered cybernetic body parts in the service of a top secret military operation.

You know this series is stretching credibility when an truck smashes a tiny compact car at high speed and wraps it around the pole. The passenger received the full force and lost her legs and right arm, eye and ear. Near fatal apparently. The driver? A couple scratches and he’s ready to perform neurosurgery within a couple hours. What the fuh…?

The problem with most cyborg stories is they create a person with high powered bionic parts but the rest of them is still organic. Although in the first episode, she didn’t do anything that seriously stretched her organic parts limits, but eventually, you know she’s going to lift something really heavy. With her natural spine. This flaw has been pointed out since the original Six Million Dollar Man. Kevin Smith wrote a screenplay for an updated version of that series and had Steve Austin given a titanium spine. But so far, nothing to stretch that credibility.

The other part no one talks about is energy source. The human body does a pretty decent job of generating mechanical energy from food. But I always wondered how much power do cyborg parts require to jump that far? In one case, Jamie Summers jumps across a street. Ha! I’ve even seen Jackie Chan do that. But this was a major street. She has two choices: speed or height. Either way, how is her bionics getting that much power? Does she have to plug in at night or does she have some nuclear battery?

Exercise for reader: Calculate the power output required for Jamie Summers to run at 50 mph (as per the pilot) and to jump across a street to another building.

Chuck (NBC, Mondays at 8pm)

Wired was calling this season “Geek TV“. Mild mannered Chuck working for Best Buy’s Buy More’s Geek Squad Nerd Herd gets an e-mail from a long, lost college buddy. A buddy he hated for stealing his girlfriend and getting him kicked out of Stanford. Turns out his buddy is a rogue CIA agent and the e-mail is the entire contents of the CIA & NSA’s joint database. Somehow, Chuck’s mind absorbs the entire sequence of images and video clips. And later, the CIA agent who breaks into his apartment to steal the PC accidentally destroys the hard-drive. So the CIA & NSA have to keep Chuck alive and find the trigger words & images to get the information out of him until the database comes back on-line.

Oh, come on!! The CIA & NSA somehow don’t have ready backups and fail over systems. OK, maybe. The hard drive shatters and they can’t restore it. The CIA & NSA have entire departments that can re-assemble shattered hard drives and read your e-mails. Somehow, a simple drop on the floor that can be fixed by a whole host of companies baffles the U.S. Government. (Where’s the rolling eyes emoticon when you need one?) Wait it gets even more fun…

The file was sent by e-mail. The NSA monitors our e-mail. Also, the e-mail would have been uploaded to Bryce’s ISP and then sent across to Chuck’s ISP before going down to his machine. No where along that line, apparently, can the NSA find the file.

Given all this, Chuck is somehow able to store the entire contents in his brain with accurate recall? The mechanism for retrieving the information is plausible: human memory is associative so seeing a face or hearing a code word could cause a recall cascade for Chuck. In fact, having all that raw data in Chuck’s head would be even better than most AI programs because his brain can make more connections and faster than our most sophisticated data mining tools. So I’ll give them that one, but seriously: they can’t do data recovery at the NSA??

Journeyman (NBC. Mondays at 10am)

A San Francisco reporter starts leaping around time with no apparent cause or mechanism and making right what once went wrong. I did love Quantum Leap, but I gotta admit, QL had some hokey writing. Jorneyman’s marginally better, but it is amusing watching the obvious time paradoxes.

He goes back in time, changes something, comes back and sees the result, then goes back in time and makes a different change, comes back and sees the result has changed. The paradox is the information that caused him to make the final change is now gone. It’s only in his memory. This is possible under one condition: parallel quantum universes. The theory is that time travel is following the outcome branch tree of the universe to a point in time. You make changes there and go forward in time following a different outcome path. The you that made the change still exists in a parallel universe thus no real paradox.

But at any rate, I do think his wife, Lydia, is hot. 🙂

Pushing Daisies (ABC, Wednesdays at 8 pm)

This series is fantasy, pure and simple, but I like it. More importantly though, it does reflect something about our real Universe. Conservation.

The universe seems to have a universal rule about conservation. The sum total of matter & energy must be preserved. In Pushing Daisies, Ned, our hero, can bring people back to life. But only if someone else dies in the nearby proximity. That little trick makes the series interesting, and gives him an incentive to undo his magic touch in under a minute. But it’s just so nice seeing the laws of conservation being respected in a fantasy show. 🙂



  1. Bionic woman – energy source is from nanobots called anthrocites,
    Anthrocite is a form of hard coal. So I guess anthrocites are made from carbon? Can’t figure out out they process energy – I guess I didn’t see a an exhaust pipe behind her ears.

    • unless of course the exhaust is somehow recycled?

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