Well, we’re back to wrap up our retrospective look at The Six Million Dollar Man, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect, what with Dynamite Comics having just released the first issue of their new comic-book series THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON SIX on March 12.
It basically picks up where Season Five of the TV series left off, and apparently—and unfortunately, in my humble opinion—it dumps the three reunion TV movies from the continuity. But it’s great to see the original Steve Austin back in action, albeit in comic-book form, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the creative team takes things. And now back to our show:
|Let it fly in the breeze, and get caught in the trees...|
With a run of mostly unremarkable episodes, and no trace of Jaime, my daughter Maddie lost a lot of interest over the course of the fifth season, so she doesn’t have much to say about it. So, alas, you’ll be hearing mostly from me this time around. Let’s get to it.
|Eye feel a change coming on...|
It’s an interesting, compelling episode, with a genuinely touching ending, but there’s some truly bizarre stuff in there, and some mangling of continuity. For example, the aliens who created Sasquatch had mentioned at the end of “The Return of Bigfoot” that their people would not come to Earth to take them home for about 100 years, but in “Bigfoot V,” Steve mentions in passing that he saw the aliens off when they departed our planet. When—and how—did that happen? And if Steve was there when the aliens left, how could he not know that Sasquatch had decided to stay on Earth?
|"Yeeaaah, radiation, bitch!"|
|Can't help thinking that under different circumstances, Farrah Fawcett would have played Jenny.|
“The Deadly Countdown” is nothing special, but it does feature the lovely Jenny Agutter and author Martin Caidin, who wrote the novel Cyborg upon which The Six Million Dollar Man is based. Apparently, Caidin’s performance was below par, or his voice sounded like Mickey Mouse’s, because all of his dialogue seems to have been dubbed in by another actor, to unintentionally hilarious effect. It’s so poorly done, so distracting, I can’t believe the producers allowed the episode to air like this. Honestly, it’s akin to this:
|Bringing a spark of life to a dying series...|
Among the lowlights:
“Dead Ringer,” a sloppy exploration into the paranormal suggesting that Steve is being haunted by his own restless spirit, which was set free when he was clinically dead following his plane crash. There’s a particularly gaping plot hole in this episode, along with the surprising suggestion that both Steve’s mother and stepfather are dead, even though Jaime Sommers was still living on their ranch over in The Bionic Woman and had never made any mention of their deaths. Helen and Jim Elgin had been important elements of both shows, so to reveal their offscreen deaths so casually, so abruptly, is extremely puzzling. Presumably this was just a careless continuity gaffe on the part of the SMDM crew, because, based on the episode, I can’t think of any story-driven reason to go there.
|Embracing the '80s.|
It adheres to the original series continuity, with a mention of Max and an in-depth explanation of what happened to Chris Williams, the O.S.I. agent played by Christopher Stone who became Jaime’s ongoing love interest during the third season of The Bionic Woman.
|He did have a better mustache than Steve's.|
Reference is made to the final episode of TBW, “On the Run,” which concludes with Jaime convincing Oscar to let her cut back on her involvement in O.S.I. operations. And more importantly, Jaime’s memory loss, established in “The Return of the Bionic Woman,” is addressed and finally resolved.
|A (computer) chip off the old block.|
Both Majors and Wagner, while significantly older, still look good and slip back into their roles quite smoothly. More importantly, in this film, when Michael Austin experiences the same tragic accident that befell his father, Lee Majors is given the opportunity to really perform as Steve, to react to events on an emotional level, to show human vulnerability, for the first time since he discovered Jaime Sommers was still alive.
|Wonder how he got the gig...|
MADDIE: “I liked Jim Castillian! He was so goofy and cracked jokes and made the movie even more enjoyable. He would always introduce himself by saying, ‘I’m Jim Castillian, and that’s with two i’s and two l’s!’ He was so full of himself that he always said it. It just made me smile.”
And I think it’s cool that actor Gary Lockwood, who guest-starred on both bionic shows, turns up as a new character. A nice nod to the past.
|Passing the bionic baton? Not so fast!|
Kate is a paraplegic who is outfitted with experimental bionic implants designed by Rudy Wells, and she’s also close friends with Jim Goldman, Oscar’s nephew, who is played by Jeff Yagher. Jaime is on hand to help Kate adjust to her new condition, while Steve is overseeing security for the World Unity Games, an international sports competition that’s an obvious stand-in for the Olympics. Kate eventually ends up going undercover as an athlete at the Games to root out a traitor within the O.S.I. who is leaking top-secret information—and she faces off against a brutal enemy operative who, it turns out, is also bionic.
MADDIE: “I liked Kate Mason, how young she was and how she got to compete in the Games like an Olympic athlete. And I liked the storyline between her and Oscar’s nephew, how they get together. They made a cute couple and I liked how Jim was protective of Kate, even though he wasn’t bionic.”
|Gotta love that combination mullet/pompadour.|
While Steve and Jaime are actively involved in the storyline, and their relationship is taken one step further, the movie is really a showcase for Bullock’s Kate Mason, serving as a pilot for a new Bionic Woman series. But it ultimately didn’t go anywhere and Bullock obviously went on to bigger things.
|Not that Lindsay Wagner could ever look bad, but still...|
|"Steve Austin, I will not honeymoon in Silicon Valley!"|
Steve and Jaime are finally headed to the altar, but Jaime is hit by a mysterious illness that causes her bionics to start breaking down. As Rudy Wells races around the clock to find a cure, Jaime calls off the wedding, leaving a heartbroken Steve to accept an O.S.I. mission paired with beautiful young agent Kimberly Harmon, played by Farrah Forke. (Yes, that’s right—Lee Majors found himself playing opposite an actress named Farrah Forke. Gotta wonder what was going through his mind during those scenes.)
|The other Farrah.|
While on assignment with Kimberly in the Bahamas, Steve starts showing signs of having contracted the same illness as Jaime. Gee, you think this mystery sickness was arranged?
|>Sniff< Excuse me, I've got something in my eye...|
My main gripe with the movie is that once again, the main villains leave a lot to be desired. They’re not memorable at all (at least the first movie had Martin Landau and Gary Lockwood) and their ultimate plan isn’t all that impressive. They just don’t seem worthy of, or enough of a challenge for, the combined efforts of Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers—even an older Steve and Jaime. Since this was the last go-round for these two characters, it would have been nice to do what hadn’t been done in the previous two films, and finally bring back an already-established threat from the original series, something or someone from the past having returned to menace them again. Not necessarily Bigfoot or the Death Probe, which probably would have seemed too outlandish, but what about the Fembots, which were so popular and so fondly remembered? Just spitballing here, but they could have brought back Dr. Chester Dolenz, the evil robotics expert who appeared in “Day of the Robot,” “Run, Steve, Run,” and “Return of the Robot Maker,” and have him take over the work of John Houseman’s now-deceased Dr. Franklin, introducing a new series of Fembots in a last act of vengeance before he dies of old age. Henry Jones, the actor who played Dolenz in all three of those episodes, was still alive and working in 1994. Ah well. We got what we got, and it was satisfying enough. It ends our time with Steve and Jaime on a happy note, and provides a nice farewell.
|Let the fighting begin!|