I got two hours of sleep last night. Insomnia visited my room like a big ol’ buzzard and pecked at me from the headboard. So today’s post is not only late, it’s bound to be a bit cantankerous. But it might have been anyway, really. I caught the pilot of Bionic Woman the other night via hulu.com and there were problems. I want to expound.
I’d been meaning to check out the show, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I was, of course, a childhood devotee of The Six Bit Man and his distaff counterpart, Jamie Summers, and this is the age of Women-Who-Kick-Ass, so I’m front and center for this kind of thing. But I was underwhelmed.
Now, I’m not gonna kick the show on the basis of the single pilot, though. It’s early yet and it would be brutally unfair to dismiss it on a solitary viewing. I haven’t met a character I like yet and the tone and characterization within that first hour were wildly uneven, but given time, it might just grow on me.
Instead, I’m going to pick on the way they use Sia Furler’s “Breathe Me.”
First of all, they shouldn’t have. Two years ago, Six Feet Under did it. As Sia herself described, it pretty much brought her back from the dead, which is a funny thing to say given the premise of the show. And they used it at the most pivotal, heart-wringing point in the entire series’ run — its final six minutes. Viewers were already primed and emotional. That coupled with the gorgeosity of the tune folded into an emotional haymaker than people talked about for months.
“Breathe Me” is a powerful, emotional song. But it’s not a crutch. You can’t use it to prop up a scene that otherwise seems forced and awkward. That’s what they try to do in Bionic Woman. After Jamie escapes from the military hospital where she finds herself after a horrific accident, she finds herself at home, confused and fearful about what she’s become. The plot, which had been screaming forward at a breakneck pace, skids to a halt. She considers suicide. Maybe. It’s hard to tell. She ends up on the roof (will she jump? won’t she?) She makes a decision. And all the while, Sia’s purring “Breathe Me” in the background.
I appreciate the moment. I recognize that she has to go through something like this. But we have to understand it through the character and the motivation. Not the music. Please don’t try to trick us into feeling something. Give us a reason to care and then blow us away with a thrilling and unexpected song choice. Give us synergy.
Just not Sia. That’s been done before.
[Note: The song is in the series trailer as well. I still think it’s the wrong choice, but in this context it works much better. I actually like the contrast between the violence and the melody. ]