“Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first Bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.”
I remember as a kid we used to imitate the Bionic Man when we would be playing in the playground. We would run in slow motion and make that distinctive “chchacha” sound and pretend we were bending steel bars or lifting tons of weight. In the 1970’s bionic play was everywhere. For a time it was the most popular thing on television.
Since the dawn of DVD this is been one of the most sought-after titles. It is amazing to think that DVD has been around for over 15 years, and this classic series is only now getting released. I was quite overjoyed when we first got the announcement here and waited on pins and needles until we found out for sure if we were going to get the title to review. The result was one of those good news/bad news types of things. We were going to get to review the release, but we were only going to get to see the first season and a collection of the bonus discs. So I really can’t talk about audio and video throughout the show. It was a dilemma deciding what to do about it. The answer, unfortunately, had to be an extended version of our No Huddle Reviews. I simply won’t comment on a title’s audio and video quality having only a fifth of the final product to judge.
Steve Austin (Majors) was an astronaut testing a new craft when a terrible accident left him at the brink of death. When the OSI takes an interest in the downed astronaut, they call in Dr. Rudy Wells (Brooks). The scientist has developed a field called bionics. He can create artificial body parts that are many times better than human parts. He replaces both of Austin’s legs, an arm and an eye with these bionic parts. Now he can run up to 60 miles an hour. His bionic arm has the strength of a hundred men. His eye works as a sophisticated optical device that allows him to see over distance and analyze what he sees. In return for the repair work, Austin is recruited as an agent for the OSI under the direction of Oscar Goldman (Anderson). With his new powers, Austin embarks on rescue operations and covert missions for the government.
In 1975 Kenneth Johnson created The Bionic Woman as part of a two-part episode. The part would be played by Lindsay Wagner. She was a school teacher and lover of Austin’s who has a terrible accident. She gets the legs and arm as well as an ear instead of an eye. She would do a trademark brush of her hair away from her ear to be able to listen over great distances. She would end up getting her own show after appearing many times on The Six Million Dollar Man.
Lee Majors would find himself shot to instant stardom. He and wife Farrah Fawcett Majors would become iconic figures of the 1970’s. Her poster would become the best-selling poster of the decade. It’s still a popular collector’s item. Richard Anderson, not to be confused with Richard Dean Anderson of Stargate fame, was the father figure and friend to the character and saw a surge in his popularity as well. He and Martin E. Brooks as Dr. Wells would end up doing double duty. They both appeared on both shows during the overlap. The show took over the lunchbox industry, and the faces from the show became a lasting symbol of the 1970’s.
The episodes ranged from intriguing espionage missions in exotic locations to silly confrontations with the likes of Bigfoot. The silly episodes almost became as popular as the serious ones. They’ve certainly left as much of an impression. The show would go on to be a ratings champion for 5 seasons and 98 episodes. And now they’re all here for your enjoyment, so far only as a complete collection.
The set is also loaded with tons of bonus features that I did get a chance to watch. There were three pilot films, and all of them re available here. There were also several Bionic Reunion films over the years following the show’s original run. They are also all available in this collection.
Here’s a list of the features.
Reunion Movie: “Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman”
Reunion Movie: “Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman”
Reunion Movie: “Bionic Ever After?”
Syndicated version of all three pilot films
TV Goes Bionic: The Origins of The Six Million Dollar Man
The Bionic Age of TV: The Success of The Six Million Dollar Man
The Pop Culture Effect
Bionic Action Figures!
The Stunts of the Bionic Age
OSI Mission Debriefing: Lee Majors
Top Secret: OSI, NASA, and Bionics
The Reunion Movies: Life after the Series
Meet the Cast: Lee Majors and Steve Austin
Meet the Cast: Lindsay Wagner and Jaime Sommers
Meet the Cast: Richard Anderson and Oscar Goldman
Meet the Cast: Getting to Know Dr. Rudy Wells
You really have to be glad of the release finally reaching our homes. I was tempted to put this on our upcoming Gift Guide, but can’t take the step without having seen the entire set. It’s a hefty price tag, but it could be worth every cent. And it is yours for considerably less than “six million dollars”.