Although you wouldn’t know it from watching AMC’s Mad Men, Hollywood has been under pressure from Washington to kick—or at least cut down on—scenes of smoking in entertainment programming. But if NBC’s upcoming remake of The Bionic Woman is any indication, cigarettes are still cool.
In the show’s pilot, as the heroine Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) prepares to do battle with her murderous and embittered bionic forerunner (played by Katee Sackhoff), the nefarious fembot calls a time out for a smoke. Taking a long, seductive drag, she explains that the “microbots” implanted in her blood stream clean out her system, thereby allowing her to puff with impunity.
However suggestible the show’s youthful target audience may be, they probably know that we do not, in fact, have the technology to make smoking harmless.
But House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey may take a dim view of the scene. In June, he held a hearing on the impact of media images, including smoking, on kids. Since then, some programmers, Disney and Hallmark Channel among them, have agreed to limit smoking in films and some TV programming.
Actually, some scenes from the Bionic pilot were re-shot after the character of Sommers’ sister was rewritten and recast. But the smoking scene remains. Said an NBC spokesperson: “We feel viewers will understand that the character is a villain.”
Trouble is, everybody loves villains.
By Marisa Guthrie