Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Discuss: The Six Million Dollar Man


Karen: I think every kid I knew watched the Six Million Dollar Man (at least in its first season). I've seen a few episodes on YouTube in the last year or so and I can't say it holds up especially well. But back in the day, it was the bomb!

The clip below is a commercial for the DVD set, but it had the highest quality images I could find.

24 comments:

Roygbiv666 said...

According to wikipedia, the series ran from 1974-1978, so I was 5-9 years old at the time.

I don't remember too much, except that I think I was scared of the Venus probe as it seemed unstoppable, the fembots were creepy, Jamie Summers was hot, and that there's no way his bionic arm could work attached to human tissue (lousy critical thinking faculty).

I'd imagine that it would be painful to watch now, especially the pacing in this post-MTV quick-cut era. Some old shows just draaaaaaag.

Also, the chick on the right of the YouTube clip looks like Sandra Bullock.

Roygbiv666 said...

"Jaime Sommers", apparently. Whey can we edit these things?

cerebus660 said...

The Six Million Dollar Man was required viewing when I was about 10 years old... but I was always disappointed by it. Like a lot of genre TV shows of the time ( Planet Of The Apes, Battlestar Galactica, Logan's Run )it had a great title sequence, which promised an exciting, thrill-packed show... but never quite delivered.

BTW As a kid I could never understand why the programme makers chose to show Steve Austin running in slow-motion. It just seemed to sloooooow the whole show down...

Doug said...

Roygbiv666 --

That is indeed Sandra Bullock -- apparently the clip promotes a 1989 reunion movie featuring Steve and Jaime, along with some younger bionic "assistants".

Doug

William said...

That clip brought back some great childhood memories. What a great time, what a great show. The Six Million Dollar Man was truly awesome. (For it's time anyway). The basic concept was, "What if Superman was a secret agent instead of a superhero?" What could be cooler than than?

A lot of people don't know it, but TSMDM was actually based on a novel called "Cyborg" by Martin Caidin (c1972). I had heard a rumor a few years ago that a big-budget movie was in the works based on the original book, but I haven't heard anything about it for a while. You'd think that one would be a no-brainer. Especially with all the movies that have come out based on old TV shows. If "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Dukes of Hazard" can get green-lighted for movie productions, I can't believe any studio would pass on "The Six Million Dollar Man". Especially with all the success of recent superhero movies.

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh man, I loved this show so much when, like Roy, I was aged roughly 5-9. It was right up there with Hawaii 5-O. And I'll never forget how scary the Sasquatch episode was when I first saw it. However, it did not retain its charm for me, as I remember I found it rather unimpressive when watching reruns in syndication a few years later.
As for that video clip, two things: wow, Sandra Bullock basically got her start as a spandex-clad bionic sidekick - how funny; and wow, I just remembered how beautiful Lindsay Wagner is (the present tense there is quite intentional...)

Crowdaddy said...

The "Bionic" sound effects live forever in my brain.

david_b said...

Totally agreed with cerebus660 as to the intro action sequences verses what you actually got.. I lamented in the past about shows like Land of the Lost, Logan's Run, POTA, Land of the Giants (still a favorite of mine..), and others. Great space or action sequences, then comparatively dull episodes.

I recall that SMDM falls into the same 70s category as Starsky and Hutch (and some other shows..) where one of the main stars always grows a mustache in the last year of the show. How many others can you name..?

It had some great episodes, but I wasn't a huge follower.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered how they jumped off walls and things (shot from below, so no stuntman) and landed dead on their feet....easy if you’ve got bionic legs, not so easy if you’re just pretending to have bionic legs. Years later, I saw an interview with Lee Majors where he was asked exactly that question. He said no, sometimes they were jumping onto unseen mattresses or foam rubber, but mostly it just hurt like Hell and both he & Lindsay had suffered ever since.

Loved the credits. Can still recite them now. Gentleman, we can rebuild him...

Kenneth Johnson (our friend from the Hulk) actually created the Jaime Sommers character.

I never saw the remake with Michelle Ryan...God knows why not, I could sit and look at her all day.....but I gather it was soulless, which may indicate the same issue with 70’s TV that we all feel about 70’s comics: you can’t go home again.

Richard

William Preston said...

Liked it in the early going, but it wore out its welcome. I was 12 when it started. Bionic Woman was, when it started, more interesting (for more reason than one), but didn't hold me either.

Episode I most remember: "Burning Bright," with William Shatner (pretty much playing the villain's role from ST's "Where No Man Has Gone Before") as a guy getting supercharged with . . . something-or-other. At the end, as I recall from the distance of many years, he's atop an electric pole, shouting, "I'm . . . burning bright . . . now . . . Steve!"

And I second the sentiment that the "bionic sound" is forever a part of my brain.

Unknown said...

Yep, I watched it faithfully too. It was "all we had". At least I grew up in California, so I didn't have to walk two miles in the snow to watch it. However, there were those two miles of sand dunes every night...

Even as a kid, I knew this show wouldn't age well. I remember seeing the pilot movie after the show had been on a few years. At the time, it seemed to have a bigger budget, and a much faster pace. I wonder how it would hold up now.

And yes, when you hear those sounds and musical cues once, they're in your brain forever.

James Chatterton

Fred W. Hill said...

I was 12 when this series started and I watched it (and the Bionic Woman spin-off) regularly with my family. Can't remember anything about any episodes though. Fun, but I actually preferred some of the cop/detective shows, like Hawaii Five-O or The Rockford Files.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I watched this a lot as a kid but don't remember much other than the awesome title sequence which, as Cerebus660 pointed out, was usually better than what followed.

The episodes that stuck out in my mind were the one where the Venus probe goes mad and the ones where Steve Austin meets Sasquatch.

I heard a few years later that that was actually WWF's Andre the Giant in the Bigfoot suit. Can anybody confirm that?

Anthony said...

Andre the Giant played Bigfoot in his first appearance. I think it was a two part episode. I think Ted Cassidy took up the role when Bigfoot starts to turn into a real Sasquatch. It's funny how everybody remembers Sasquatch and the Venus probe. I agree with Roygbiv666. I remember an episode where Steve was trying to escape handcuffs I believe and he was trying to break the chain link with no damage to his normal wrist.

Karen said...

My older brother basically ruined Six Million Dollar Man for me by pointing out that since his entire body wasn't bionic, "He'd break his back," "He'd tear his arm out of his socket," "He'd shatter his spine," and other equally distressing observations.

Karen

Inkstained Wretch said...

Cool, thanks Anthony!

Anonymous said...

Yes I do have fond memories of SMDM. It was really popular down here in Trinidad in the 70s. I remember all the kids making the bionic noises and slow motion movements during the lunch break in the schoolyard when I was little. Heck, I even remember that everyone thought the coolest kid was the one who had the SMDM lunchkit. The Steve Austin action figure was hot too, as I recall.

Some commentators have said that the show hasn't aged well. I respectfully disagree - of course the 70s fashions really seem outdated now (polyester suits and bell bottomed pants, anyone?) but in terms of scripting and action sequences it was great for its time.

I have seen some eps online (thank you videozfann !)and I've gotten to see some that I've never seen before, including the very first pilot episode which details how Steve got his bionics. Some of my favourites include The Secret of Bigfoot (of course!) and Clark Templeton O'Flaherty. Bigfoot really scared me as a kid when I saw it on my black and white TV.

It's true that some of the later episodes in the series, especially the 5th and final season suffered from a distinct lack of quality, but that was probably due to external factors. I read that Lee Majors was probably tired of making the series at that point and sued for a huge salary increase before season 5, and the studio countersued him. That more than anything else was the main reason why the series ended when it did, not just because of falling ratings. If anybody else has more information on this, I'd like to know.

As for the infamous season 4 moustache, I have to admit I was not a big fan of it. Steve Austin looked too much like a disco daddy with it ,if you know what I mean. Lindsay Wagner was and still is absolutely beautiful to this day. I'm sure there were many boys who had a crush on her and still do even though they're middle aged now, like me. :)

The bionic sound effects and slow motion running/action sequences were pretty well done if you ask me. After all, if people still remember them 40 years later then they must have done something right. How do you make it look like someone is running fast without speeding up the film and making it look comedic ala Keystone cops? Well, film it in slow motion! Brilliant stuff! Interestingly, they were absent in some of the earliest episodes (completely absent in the pilot). You could tell that they were tinkering with how to represent Steve's bionics onscreen as the series progressed.

The opening sequence is IMHO one of the greatest in all of TV history. "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. Stronger. Faster. Better." As a kid in the 70s , one got goosebumps every time you heard Oscar Goldman say that.

SMDM in a nutshell is one of my all time favourite (spelled with a 'u') classic TV shows. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch some episodes online now.

- Michael from Trinidad & Tobago.

William said...

Don't feel too bad Karen, my dad did the same thing to me. Every time the 6MDM was on he'd chime in "He's not all bionic, so lifting that truck would rip his arm off.", etc.

The man has no ability to suspend his disbelief.

humanbelly said...

I'm just a fraction older than several here (was 13-nearly-14 when the series started)-- and I could swear that I remember it starting as one of those made-for-tv Tuesday & Wednesday "Movies of the Week" (which had some TERRIFIC installments! Really worthy of its own topic, I daresay. That's where Kolchak: the Night Stalker started; and Spielberg's great DUEL w/ Dennis Weaver. . . )-- but I'm getting all parenthetically digressified. . . ).

My pals and I thoroughly enjoyed the show for a good three seasons-- but we even recognized right off the bat that catching a 40-ton boulder one one's bionic arm w/out suffering any injury was really an inexcusable absurdity in the writing. Kind of embarrassing, really.

The other repeated convention was Steve's habit of perpetually "raising" the security clearance of whoever the guest star was that week, when extreme circumstances would force him to reveal his bionic capabilities. Surprised he didn't get in a lot more trouble for that.

HB

Anonymous said...

According to Wiki and epguides.com, the pilot for TSMDM was a 90-minute (including commercials) ABC Movie of the Week in March 1973. There were two 90-minute episodes in autumn of that year, then the regular weekly one-hour episodes began in January 1974. And HB is right in that several series (Night Stalker, The Rookies, Cannon, Ironside, Hawaii 5-O) had made-for-TV movies as their pilot episodes.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I remember that show very well. I saw every episode and got tall the toys. I wish I still had them. I remember the pilot and re-watched it in the season one DVD. I don't have the $350 dollars to buy the whole set. The $20 I spent for season one was very reasonable. Until the rest of the DVD sets come down to the $20 price or under, I don't see myself buying any more. The Bionic Woman was a good show, but I'd only watch it after watching Steve Austin. I loved the TV reunion movies and was hoping they would update it. Word was Leonardo DiCaprio was attaced to a project called the Six Billion Dollar Man. However I haven't read anything since last year on IMDB. If only the producers of the DVD would reduce the price to something affordable, I'd get them all. You would think with today's economy they would wannt to have a more reasonable price that won't drive away coustomers. Star Trek has the same price on their sets. $44 dollars for a season of Enterprise. Who can afford that when you have bils? If it isn't under $20 my rule is it isn't worth buying anymore. There is no reason other than greed to charge so much for these sets.

Anonymous said...

wonder woman was way better and way hotter

god bless lynda carter

Anonymous said...

Not much to add, except to confirm a few points that have already been made, or try to address the questions raised. All sources I can find say that Lee Majors wanted to negotiate a new contract (naturally, including a raise), the studio and/or network wanted to hold him to the terms of the old contract, he walked out and they sued. They ended up offering him the raise but then the ratings declined and the show was cancelled anyway. As for the special effects, I remember a TV Guide article at the time that explained why they used slow motion. They tried speeding up the film, but it looked like a silent movie slapstick comedy. And, I had forgotten how Austin (and Jaime) would raise the security clearance of whoever saw them use their powers. Steve would ask some government clerk his clearance, and the person would say, "Four," and Steve would casually say, "Well, you just got promoted to Level Six," and then would lift a car or smash through a steel vault. By the end, even the Russians (like the scientist who designed the Venus probe) knew about bionics.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see some fans' appreciation for Lindsay Wagner. Her performances made The Bionic Woman worth watching, even when the scripts were weak.

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