A small town in Kansas is literally left in the dark after seeing a mushroom cloud over near-by Denver, Colorado. The townspeople struggle to find answers about the blast and solutions on how to survive.
After resigning, a secret agent is abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre prison. His warders demand information. He gives them nothing, but only tries to escape.
When ace test-pilot Steve Austin's ship crashed, he was nearly dead. Deciding that "we have the technology to rebuild this man", the government decides to rebuild Austin, augmenting him with cybernetic parts which gave him superhuman strength and speed. Austin becomes a secret operative, fighting injustice where it is found. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Harve Bennett is the voice in the opening of the show that says "Steve Austin a man barely alive." He did this recording after Richard Anderson had already recorded the rest of the mono log. Anderson was not available at the time to record the addition so Bennett did it himself. See more »
Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive.
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.
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To understand the genesis of the show, watch first Harve Bennett's "The Astronaut" (1972) ---with the music of Gil Mellé-- and "Texas, We've Got a Problem" (1974). With a good, solid, realistic in treatment (psychologically and artistically), 1973 pilot produced and directed by David Irving and starring Martin Balsam as Dr. Rudy Wells (see H. G. Wells?) and Darren McGavin as the crippled cynical and manipulator Intelligent head Oliver Spencer who is also known as newspaper "Kolchak, The Night Stalker"; the show starts very well with Gil Mellé's electronic and jazzy score a la Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew", then comes a terrible second pilot "Wine, Woman and War", produced by Michael Gleason and written by Glen A. Larson with a dreadful main title and a horrible song by Dusty Springfield in which Steve Austin is a kind of reluctant second-rate James Bond whose mission ends with an atomic explosion. The series really finds its format with the third pilot: "The Solid Gold Kidnapping" with Jack Cole's famous techno medical main title (made with footages from the two pilots, video effects and body animations). During the middle of season 1, the music department decided to add sound effects from Universal's stock music library to highlight the bionic motions (some were already used in a previous series like the 1972 E.S.P. series "The Sixth Sense"---oddly enough, you can hear a noise from a missile when Austin launches an object into the air). The series had three Dr. Rudy Wells: one played by Martin Balsam (first pilot), by Alan Oppenheimer (pilot 2 & 3 and season 1 & 2) and by Martin E. Brooks (season 3, 4 & 5). The first two seasons ---produced by Sam Strangis/Donald R. Boyle and Lionel E. Siegel/Joe L. Cramer--- were in the line of the pilots and then occurs the transitory season 3 ---in 1975, the main composer Oliver Nelson and the music supervisor Hal Mooney left---, a season 4 with some drastic changes (bad writers and producers, the lead wears a ridiculous thin moustache, Goldman has a new office's decoration and the music is composed and renewed by J. J. Johnson) and therefore an un-inspired season 5 ---without Harve Bennett--- in which the protagonist wears a pre-"Fall Guy" haircut. TSMDM is basically an espionage series with a shallow sci-fi canvas (everybody remember the zoom shot bionic left eye with the frames or the infrared vision); notice the various martial music themes to grasp the concept of this pro-gov/militaryNASA/technology drama. The first pilot shows an offhand and rebel Steve Austin who refuses his injured disabled condition (even try to commit suicide) and his involvement in the scientifical department of the C.I.A. (here, O.S.O.: Office of Strategic Operation, and, later O.S.I.: Office of Scientifical Intelligence): official Oliver Spencer (later Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman) even receivs a cold slap. From season 2, we are introduced to another bionic man: paranoid auto racing Barney Miller (with a season 3 sequel) in "The Seven Million Dollar Man", and a woman: tennis champ Jaimie Sommers, in a two-parter (with a season 3 sequel too) in "The Bionic Woman". From that point, the show slips into cheap bionic new products (Bigfoot, boy, dog) with a comic book leaning. The best episodes are those which deal with the space program/Austin's background ("The Rescue of Athena One", "Burning Bright", "The Pioneers", "The Deadly Replay": where we learn about Austin's near fatal plane accident) and the dangers of technology in the hands of America's inner enemies ("Population Zero", "Day of the Robot", "Run, Steve, Run").
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