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This is one of the ways you can tell you're getting old: when someone says
the name "Steve Austin." Do you think of a bald wrestler rolling around
the mat groping other guys, or Lee Majors moving in slow motion and
squinting? I think of the latter.
"The Six Million Dollar Man" is one of the first shows I remember watching as a child. I watched the shows, I played with the toys, I wanted to BE Steve Austin. Lee Majors (along with Clint Eastwood) proved that some people look so cool when they squint. I look like I need my prescription checked when I do it, but I'm not Lee Majors. Steve Austin could handle anything they threw at him, not just because of his bionics, but because he was smart, he never gave up and always kept his cool. I still want to be like him when I grow up.
Recently, I've seen some episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel. Sure, the 1970s fashions are a little jarring (polyester rules!), and sometimes the plots are juvenile, but overall the show holds up pretty well. It could be very intelligent when it wanted to be, funny when it was called for, and always exciting and fun. It reminds me of a time when six million dollars was a lot of money, and American technology could produce wonders like a functional cyborg.
Yeah, I'll take Lee Majors over the bald wrestling guy any day. After all, how many wrestlers could take on spies, terrorists, aliens, Bigfoot, a killer Venus probe and Sonny Bono and live to tell the tale?
The Six Million Dollar Man was a show that was entertaining and it
taught me about romance. I was about six when I first started watching
I was enthralled by the action and the feats that this man could perform.
He had a bionic right arm, two bionic legs, and a bionic eye that could
enable him to see great distances. His strength was more than that of ten
men. He could run faster than a car and he was a super intelligence
Along the way he meets a variety of interesting characters and ones that I
have never forgotten about. There was Barney, the seven million dollar
who lets his bionics take over his mind and he uses them for his own
benefits instead of that of his agency. Then there was the probe. The
probe was a machine that was designed to go to space but never made it
there. On Earth, it wreaks havoc and Steve has his hands full with it.
Then of course there was Jamie Summers. She was Steve's girlfriend that
a tragic parachuting accident. Steve, blinded by love demands that she is
given bionics. She receives them but she has amnesia. There love is
tragically put on hold and it is this plot line that for the first time in
my young life, I was taught about the power and tragedy of love.
But the best of all the episodes of Steve Austin was the one's centering around Bigfoot. This also introduced the world to Andre The Giant. The Bigfoot episodes were scary. Here is this huge creature that is also bionic and he is a little stronger, a little faster and a little more vicious than Steve Austin. It is some of the best T.V. I've ever seen and it is one that will have a lasting impression on me for the rest of my life.
I remember that I asked my mom how they did all those things. How a man could jump that high, how he could lift a car and such. It was then that my parents explained to me that this was all make believe. That this is what is known as magic. Well it was from that moment on that the movies and TV captured my imagination. And for that I will be eternally greatful to The Six Million Dollar Man.
"THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN"-PART MAN,PART MACHINE,ALL ACTION
What was it like to be a kid growing up in the 1970's when this show came on? You see,I remember this series coming on television very well. For one,I was one of those kids who from some reason was glued to the set when this show came on Friday Nights on ABC-TV during the 1970's. I was one of those kids who for some reason went out and brought up a lot of memorabilia stuff including all of the merchandise that flew off the shelves relating to this show: Who remembers owning one of the two dolls of "The Six Million Dollar Man" action figures that were made by Mattel which featured the character with the bionic grip and not to mention his mentor who had changeable outfits,let alone tons of stuff including the GMF View-Master set of one of the episodes not to mention seeing one of your friends walking on the playground or jumping over something in slow motion....Oh yeah,that TV soundtrack to the show which had Lee Majors doing country tunes and rock and roll stuff?
For the answers to the questions depicted? YES!!! I WAS THE 1970'S! FOR ONE,WAS ONE OF THE CHILDREN WHO WORSHIP QUALITY 70'S TV PROGRAMMING! By the way,if you remember 70's TV characters like Archie Bunker,George Jefferson,Maude Findley,James and Florida Evans,Fred Sanford,Dee Pepper Columbo,Jim Rockford,and Kolchak,Baretta and not to mention Theo Kojak,then the character name of Steve Austin should come through the light!
Even after all of these years,"The Six Million Dollar Man" still holds up to the test of time and to this day,it has always been a personal favorite of mine as a child,and still is regarding as a vintage classic even after some 30 years later with some of the best special effects around. Ever since it premiered on ABC-TV in September of 1974,it was a runaway bonafide hit which was garnered huge ratings with the audience and was always in the top-ten of the Nielsens,where it stayed for six astounding seasons until its final episode of the series ended in May of 1978,after producing 108 episodes,which in turn took ABC to the top of the Nielsens where it was on one of the most watched shows during its run on Friday nights in its first four seasons,and from there in its last two the network moved the series from Friday nights to Sunday nights opposite the Sunday night competition:"60 Minutes",and "The Wonderful World Of Disney" until 1978,when the series ended.
About the show.................. Long before "Cyborg" became famous with Arnold Scwarzenegger in the "Terminator" films,Lee Majors was everyone's favorite cyborg,and for every fan out there,this show delivered the goods since this was indeed part science fiction/action-adventure genre mixed in with some international espionage and political intrigue for a great effect. Lee Majors' role as Steve Austin was in fact a combination of James Bond,part Buzz Aldrin/Chuck Yeager,part Road Runner and part Superman in which gave this series a nice mix of seriousness and fun. Let's face it,he was part-human,part-mechanical;the world's first bionic man. Better than he was before...BETTER,STRONGER,FASTER...............
The character of Steve Austin,who was an astronaut who suffered an accident and was rebuilt by a government agency and was under the supervision of his boss,Oscar Goldman played by Richard Anderson,and there was Dr. Rudy Wells,played by Martin E. Brooks,who was responsible for Steve's bionic parts. The chemistry between these characters were to be tested throughout the series,but as the show progressed the chemistry between them was brilliant. The sound effects which included the bionic eye looking miles ahead,or the sound of bionic legs running faster and faster is what made this show stand out beyond them all. FANTASTIC! you say? I'll say AWESOME!........
This show was just pure fantasy from the get-go with the stories truly engaging and very well written the offered variations in excitement and imagination,and during the last two seasons of the show it suffered from repetitation since the earlier episodes(from the first three seasons)and from there the ratings slipped too. The show had a mixture of guest stars of who's who in Hollywood from William Shatner,Ted Cassidy and Andre The Giant as Bigfoot(Cassidy played him first)to the guest of TV show regulars like Gary Lockwood,John Saxon,Cathy Rigby, Lindsay Wagner(who played Steve Austin's love interest,Jamie Summers which was for the inspiration to the spin off,"The Bionic Woman"),to the strange and bizarre like Sonny Bono,Larry Csonka,and so forth. Nowadays it is a crying shame that this series is no longer shown on any cable network(cable's The Sci-Fi Channel was the last to do so...an all-day marathon of this series was shown not too long ago)or any syndicated market station doesn't show this anymore,and I wonder why? Why isn't there a big-screen version of "The Six Million Dollar Man" coming to theaters? I heard rumors its going to be George Clooney.
But by the way,while during the last two decades many of our favorite TV shows(Star Trek,The Untouchables,I Spy,Mission:Impossible,McHale's Navy,The Wild,Wild West,Lost In Space,The Fugitive,Charlie's Angels,SWAT,The Brady Bunch,The Twilight Zone,Lassie,Flipper,My 3 Sons, and not to mention our animated TV favorites Scooby Doo,The Flintstones) and cartoons(Batman,Superman,X-Men,Daredevil,Spider-Man,Hulk,The Punisher)have been made into full-length feature films,so now is the time for SMDM to give it the big-screen treatment and the respect it truly deserves.
Well, it holds up to the test of time in SOME ways. This show was one of my favorites as a child and if re-made today with state of the art special effects could still be a top rrated TV show or blockbuster film. It wasn't camp, but it didn't take itself too seriously either. It had action and adventure, romance and espionage intrigue. This is the role Lee Majors was born to play, and he plays it to perfection. To most of us, he will always be the hero called Steve Austin. Other than the sometime wince-inducing special effects, this show is just as enjoyable if you catch it in re-runs today as it was during its original airing.
Before Arnold became a Terminator, Lee Majors was everyone's favorite
cyborg. For any sci-fi or adventure show fan, this was THE show of the
70's. The 60's had Kirk, Spock, Tribbles, and Klingons; the 70's had
Steve Austin, Oscar Goldman, Jamie Summers, and Bigfoot.
Lee Majors was Steve Austin, astronaut; a man barely alive...... There was nothing Stone Cold about this Steve Austin, except maybe his wardrobe. Lee Majors was quite entertaining as Col. Steve Austin; part James Bond, part Buzz Aldrin/Chuck Yeager, and part Superman. Lee gave Austin a nice mix of serious and fun. Yes, his acting could be as mechanical as his bionics; but, Majors always had a bit of a twinkle in his eye (may have been the lens in the bionic one). He never took himself too seriously in the role, but could convey that emotion when the script called for it.
Richard Anderson was steady as boss and pal Oscar Goldman. Like Majors, he was limited, but well suited to his character. Anderson could be a good supporting actor when he rose to the occasion; and he often did.
I personally preferred Martin E. Brooks to Allan Openheimer, as Dr. Rudy Wells. Brooks came across more as a scientist. The other supporting characters varied in quality from show to show, but Rudy was always an integral part.
The episodes vary in excitement and imagination. The later seasons suffered from repetition, but, the early ones hold up well as good science fiction. Personal favorites include the death probe; the Russian installation with a doomsday device that is accidentally activated; the booby-trapped Liberty Bell; the androids; Steve's return flight in the experimental craft from the pilot movie;the Bionic Woman cross-overs; and, of course, Bigfoot. I preferred the more science fiction oriented stories to the more mundane cops and robbers shows.
The show had quite a mix of guest stars. There were the greats, like William Shatner, Lou Gossett Jr., Guy Doleman (from Thunderball and the Ipcress File), and Ted Cassidy and Andre the Giant as Bigfoot (Andre played him first). There were the so-so, like Farrah Fawcett (Majors), Cathy Rigby, Gary Lockwood, and John Saxon. Then there were the strange, like Sonny Bono and Larry Csonka.
This was the show that caused millions of kids in the 70's to run in slow motion, while making strange noises. It also had the coolest action figure; it came with an engine block that you could cause Steve Austin to lift, by pressing a button on his back. You could also look through the bionic eye, although you had to make your own sound effects. I understand these things go for big bucks on eBay.
Years later, I found a copy of the original novel, Cyborg, by Martin Caidin.
The character was a bit different. He was more of a secret agent than in the series, and the bionics were a bit different. The eye was actually a camera, rather than a telescopic lens. It was explained that Austin's stamina was greater, since his lungs didn't have to provide oxygen to his bionic limbs. He also had special enhancements for the limbs for special missions. In one, he has webbed feet for underwater swimming. The book plays up Austin's intelligence and scientific background more. It was generally well written, and makes a nice contrast to the series.
There have been rumors of an updated movie. At one point, it was pitched as a comedy with Chris Rock. Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case right now. It has tremendous potential as and action/sci-fi movie, particularly with advances in special effects. Here's hoping the right script, director, and cast comes along and makes it a reality. Of course, they'll have to adjust it for inflation; 6 million doesn't buy much these days. And defense contractors are notorious for overcharging for substandard work.
While we're waiting, how about a DVD box set?
I loved The Six Million Dollar Man, I watched it every week if possible and
actually wanted to be Bionic when I grew up! I even had Steve Austin Action
figures including Oscar Goldman with his exploding Briefcase and Maskatron
too. I was a big fan and still have a soft spot for the show and would
happily watch it if it is being re-run on TV.
It has dated badly in some ways, especially the clothes and hairstyles, but
most shows from the 70's have anyway.
It was corny in places too and I wonder why objects such as rocks and steel bars made a whistling noise when Steve threw them! Also the androids were bad especially when their face came off and an actor had a mask with wires and lights on it over his/her face which meant realistically they would have had a side profile like E.T.!
But on the whole I loved it and have fond memories of watching it! It is a classic 70's show!
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").
There is no question that The Six Million Dollar Man was as revolutionary
program in its prime as it is woefully overlooked today.
Most of the great science fiction themes had been exhausted during the
Cold War era, when fears of alien invasions and nuclear holocaust were
rampant. It was the horror genre, if anything, that enjoyed a resurgence
the 1970's, with such notable offerings as The Exorcist and Jaws, and
television programs like Dark Shadows. By contrast, the 70's were lean
years for sci-fi - the classic motifs of the 60's were dead, and
80's tech-shows like Knight Rider were still on the shelf.
But Col. Steve Austin virtually redefined the genre with his story of bionic implantation. His character was indisputably TV's first cybernetically enhanced human being of any significance. In fact, rarely did even the silver screen feature a cyborg in a major role before TSMDM debuted. After its long run at the top, Hollywood began churning out its subtle rip-offs, which spawned such diverse characters as "Bishop" in Alien, The Terminator, "Data" and the dreaded Borg from Star Trek TNG, and a host of mediocre Austin clones in Van Damme-style B-movies.
Further, TSMDM was competent in its own right. The show was a household name during its reign, and gave birth to the kind of merchandising mania - action figures, board games, etc. - more typical of a big-budget motion picture than a television series. There wasn't a young boy anywhere in North America who didn't mimic the Colonel's slow-motion antics in the schoolyard, and even parents inevitably ended up enjoying the program as much as their kids (name another show that can make that claim!).
The cast was well-chosen and usually convincing, with Majors' understated but charming persona leading the way. The special effects were acceptable for the time, if not particularly ground-breaking. Best of all, the episodes were reliably action-packed, well developed and truly imaginative in their diversity and execution. The program touched on alien visitors, military themes, espionage, romance, and never lost its sense of perspective or sheer fun.
My only complaint with TSMDM is that no station in my part of the world carries the show any longer. Amazingly, the Space Channel sees fit to broadcast garbage like Beauty and the Beast and Lexx, but turns its back on a genuine pioneer of the genre. It's confounding. Shows like this cannot be allowed to simply rot away in some vault. They must be preserved, just as legends in their time like Star Trek clearly have. I'd love for my children to share in the awe and excitement I felt when TSMDM was new and fresh, and, quite frankly, I wouldn't mind feeling like a kid again myself!
The Six Million Dollar Man was one of my favourite TV shows, a show that I
enjoyed without fail each week.
Lee Majors played Col. Steve Austin, an astronaut who suffered an accident and was rebuilt by government agency, the OSI (I think it stood for Office of Strategic Intelligence). Austin was the world's first bionic man (well, not really because it later transpired that there was a seven million dollar man but that's another story). He had a bionic eye which could see for miles; he had a bionic arm and two bionic legs to help him run fast.
The show was very entertaining. The sound effects as Austin used his bionic body parts were great. The sound of the bionic eye looking miles ahead-FANTASTIC! The sound of the bionic arm breaking a door down-FANTASTIC! The sound of bionic legs running faster than any normal man-FANTASTIC! Whenever Austin jumped or ran fast, it would be done in slow motion which worked a hell of a lot better than if the scene had been speeded up.
Richard Anderson played a good role as Oscar Goldman, chief of OSI (perhaps not the big chief but some kind of chief). He had good chemistry with Lee Majors on screen and it showed.
There was also Martin E. Brooks who played Dr. Rudy Wells, the man responsible for Steve's bionic body parts. A great character who had his fair share of great storylines.
The episodes were pure 70's fantasy. Austin took on spies, robots, aliens and even Bigfoot himself (my favourite episode). The music was great, the sound effects were great. The whole show was great. Definitely worth checking out on video or DVD.
I've loved this show ever since I was a kid in the 70's. I went through 2 lunch kits [the blue one with the various scenes of Steve in action] and three of the action figures, the last of which I still have brand new in the box. I also had the bionic transport/repair set. Sadly, I never did acquire a Maskatron. My Mother still remembers walking into the living room just in time to see me doing a Bionic jump, in slow motion with the ch-ch-ch-ch-ch sound f/x, off the couch, or running in slow-mo down the hall. My best friend in grade 1 and 2 was TOTALLY convinced he was bionic and was, in fact, Steve Austin [and The Fonz, too]. To prove it one day, he jumped off of a 12 foot retaining wall on the school grounds, only to injure himself quite seriously. I remember seeing the ambulance coming right in to the school yard to pick him up [a funny side note, his name was Stephen!]. Anyway, I think season 1 and 2 were the only worthwhile episodes. Things started getting really silly in season 3 with the Bigfoot episodes. It was always better when the stories remained fully human interest, with no aliens, E.S.P, Bigfoot, or the death probe. My favourite episodes are the Robot ones [Day of the Robot and Return of the Robot Maker]. Yes, the androids were a little far-fetched, but they seemed to dove-tail nicely into the whole bionic thing. Plus, the movie Westworld, which had just come out and was excellent, added some credibility. Some of the episodes still stand up well [The 7 Million Dollar Man, for instance], and are very good drama/sci-fi. It's unfortunate the last 2 or 3 seasons were so lame, but like The Night Stalker, the good ideas got used up pretty fast.
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