THE BIONIC WOMAN Season 3 DVD review

Published February 16, 2012

It’s been four years since I wrote an article entitled Bionic Blunder – Where are those Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman DVDs?  And just over a year since that question was answered by Universal Television with the release of wonderful box sets of both of those series.  While I have not yet reviewed that 40-disc SMDM set ($240 is still a bit steep for that), I have reviewed Season 1 and Season 2 of The Bionic Woman, and am now here to cap it off with my thoughts on Season 3.

In 1977, after two successful seasons of The Bionic Woman, the execs at ABC decided that the show’s legs, bionic though they were, had grown a bit wobbly, and dropped the series from its schedule – this despite the fact that it was still in the top fifteen of the Nielson ratings.  In an unheard of move, NBC stepped up and offered to pick up The Bionic Woman for a third season.

And thus marked the first time that a series and its spinoff were on two different networks, with supporting characters like Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) and Dr. Rudy Wells (Martin E. Brooks) bouncing back and forth between shows.  While this was handled easily, it was rather irksome that the character of Steve Austin was only mentioned once in the first episode, and thereafter never mentioned again.  To avoid further complications, the producers tried to give Jaime different love interests throughout this final season, as if Steve Austin had never existed.  As a boy watching during this period (nursing a serious crush on Lindsay Wagner), I found this disturbing.  Yes, I knew about the network conflicts, but saw no reason why that should dictate story.  Also, the number of potential boyfriends that Jaime kisses on and cuddles up to here seems out of character.  This problem was, to a great extent, “solved” with the introduction of Christopher Stone as Chris Williams, but still … to expect audiences to warm to idea of a Steveless Jaime simply because of network issues was a burden the show could not shake.  SMDM suffered too – both shows were canceled in the spring of 1978.

Series creator and producer Kenneth Johnson was absent for this final season as he already had his hands full producing The Incredible Hulk.  While his underlings did the best job they could, Johnson’s absence is palpable.  Other season 3 changes include: Jaime is never seen teaching school anymore, and Steve’s parents, who own the ranch where Jaime lives in that awesome carriage house, are never seen or mentioned.  While these don’t seem like major changes, the tone of the series was quite different.

Season 3 of The Bionic Woman starts off a bit silly with a two-part episode called The Bionic Dog.  As always, the charisma of series star Lindsay Wagner makes all the difference.  Maximillian, the aforementioned German Shepherd with the bionic legs and jaw, was supposed to get a series of his own but, after an episode entitled Max,  in which Lindsay Wagner barely appeared at all, smarter minds prevailed.  (I must admit, I laughed pretty hard during the opening minutes of The Bionic Dog Part 2, when, after recapping the events of Part 1, Richard Anderson says, “And now the conclusion of The Bionic Dog on The Bionic Woman.”  Oh, what Beavis and Butthead would have had to say about THAT … uh, huh huh huh.)

While this was not a terrible way to open the third season, things did pick up a bit with another two-parter: Fembots in Las Vegas.  The title says it all.

Other notable episodes from this season include –

Motorcycle Boogie, in which Jaime enlists the aid of Evel Knievel (playing himself – see the photo below) to get her out of West Germany … though she refuses to believe that he is who he claims to be.

The Pyramid – Jaime and Chris are trapped in an underground pyramid with an alien sentinel.  (Given the alien/ Mayan overtones, there is a bit of a Crystal Skull vibe here … 30 years before that Indiana Jones sequel.)

Sanctuary Earth, where 14-year-old Helen Hunt plays visiting alien Princess Zorla, who is being pursued by intergalactic assassins who look uncannily like the Hagar twins from Hee Haw.

Given that this season was made in late 1977 and early 1978, the influence of Star Wars can certainly be felt – especially with those last two aforementioned episodes.

This five disc set breaks down like this (episode descriptions are jacket copy):

DISC 1

The Bionic Dog
When Jaime learns of another bionic prototype – a German Shepherd named Max – who”s suffering from many of the same setbacks she and Steve Austin experienced, she makes it her mission to rehabilitate the animal.

The Bionic Dog Part II
Jaime and Max take refuge with a former flame of hers, forest ranger Roger Grette, but it”s Max who puts his life on the line to save the woods from an overwhelming threat.

Fembots in Las Vegas
While Jaime and Oscar try to negotiate with a reclusive and terminally ill scientist over the fate of an energy ray weapon, the son of the Fembot”s creator, Carl Franklin, remotely activates the killer female robots.

Fembots in Las Vegas Part II
After launching the weapon into Earth”s orbit, Franklin demands that Washington turn over Jaime, Oscar and Dr. Rudy Wells to him as ransom for not destroying the planet.

DISC 2

Rodeo
Jaime”s mission to protect OSI computer expert Billy Cole from a deadly foreign power is complicated by the daredevil”s overwhelming passion to become a rodeo champion.

African Connection
Jaime”s mission in Africa to stop a potentially rigged election takes an unusual twist when she hires Harry Walker and his WWII tank to help her traverse through treacherous jungle terrain.

Motorcycle Boogie
While on the trail of a stolen computer tape in West Germany, Jaime relies on the assistance of Evel Knievel to get her across the border … even though she steadfastly refuses to believe he is whom he claims.

Brain Wash
Someone”s playing dirty at OSI when Jaime overhears industry secrets spilled, but Oscar refuses to believe it has anything to do with his trusted secretary, Peggy.

DISC 3

Escape to Love
Romance complicates rescue when Jaime is assigned to help Dr. Arlo Kelso and his son, Sandor get across the Iron Curtain, and Sandor begins to develop feelings for his gorgeous rescuer.

Max
Everything quickly goes to the dogs when a bionic check-up incapacitates Jaime and Max is kidnapped by opportunistic foreign agents.

Over the Hill Spy
Jaime and retired OSI agent Terrence Quinn reluctantly team up to catch Oscar”s long-time Soviet nemesis, Vilmos Vanovic, in a heart-racing international game of cat- and-mouse.

All for One
It”s back to school for Jaime when she enrolls as a college student to find out who has been stealing thousands of dollars by connecting the campus computer into the OSI system.

DISC 4

The Pyramid
Jaime finds herself trapped in an underground pyramid with an alien sentinel who claims that a ship from his world is headed to Earth … and that the consequences will not be good for mankind.

The Antidote
Man”s best friend becomes especially important to Jaime when she and a Russian diplomat are poisoned and Max must find the doctor who can provide the antidote and save her life.

The Martians Are Coming, The Martians Are Coming
When Oscar sees what appears to be a U.F.O. abduct a scientist who is working on a top-secret project, Jaime sets out to find the man and has her own encounter with the spacecraft.

Sanctuary Earth
Jaime is first on the scene when a satellite crashes into a lake, and she meets a girl who claims to be a princess from the planet Zorla and says that she is being pursued by trackers from another planet.

Deadly Music
A doctor isolates a sound frequency that makes sharks attack anything he wants, and Jaime becomes the first human test subject when she joins a diving team that is deploying a submarine detection system.

DISC 5

Which One is Jaime?
Oscar learns that Jaime is under some kind of investigation and takes her to OSI headquarters for protection, but then the culprits mistake Callahan, who is dog- sitting Max, for Jaime and kidnap her.

Out of Body
During a break-in at the OSI labs, a Native American is electrocuted and falls into a coma, but his spirit remains intact and desperately tries to save Jaime from being destroyed by the most deadly bomb ever created.

Long Live the King
Posing as the social secretary for a Middle Eastern king who is visiting New York, Jaime works to stop an assassination plot … but soon finds herself in the cross hairs.

Rancho Outcast
On a mission to find stolen currency plates, Jaime assumes the identity of a crook known as Blondie Malone and heads to Central America with a convicted criminal who is working with OSI in the hopes of getting paroled.

On the Run
Terrified of becoming more machine than human, Jaime retires from OSI, but Oscar”s superiors move to put her in a special compound because they believe her bionics are government property and that she knows too much confidential information.

(One item of interest: All for One, The Pyramid, and Rancho Outcast all feature actor and stuntman Henry Kingi, whom Lindsay Wagner would be married to from 1981 to 1984.)

The Bonus Features here are okay, but nothing to cheer about.  Other than some audio commentaries on select episodes by various writers and directors (one of whom is Steven E. de Souza, who would go onto cowrite the scripts for 48 Hrs. and Die Hard 1& 2), there is a photo gallery, a podcast, and a Q&A with Lindsay Wagner, which, while interesting, plays like leftovers from the previous two featurettes on the Season 1 and Season 2 box sets.  Oh, well … considering how long we have waited for these shows (35 years!), this is still a wonderful package.

While I would love to review the three bionic reunion movies that were made in the late 80s and early 90s, those are not available in this Season 3 set.  They ARE available in that 40-disc SMDM box, which I promise I will get to as soon as the price drops.  Season One of SMDM was released individually last year at around $30 but, as I believe there are hours of bonus content available in that big set that may not be released on the stand alones, I think I will hold off.

For all its story problems, network troubles, and 1970s cheese, this third season of The Bionic Woman (Amazon $19.99) shines for the exact same reason that the first two did: it stars Lindsay Wagner.  While she is still quite lovely, this series captured her in her late 20s, in all of her tall, leggy, beautifully tomboyish glory.  For some reason, that long, straight, dark blonde hair, parted in the middle and worn loose, just killed me when I was a boy.  Rewatching these episodes decades later … the effect hasn’t changed.  No amount of CGI or digital trickery can match what lovely Lindsay did during the three years she got to play Jaime Sommers and the world fell in love with her.

But if you are a fan of this show, you already knew that.

SEASON 3 GRADE: B
BONUS CONTENT: B-

THE BIONIC WOMAN SEASON 2 – DVD review

Published June 15, 2011

After having a huge success with the looooong awaited release of The Bionic Woman Season One last year, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has followed it up with (what else?) Season Two.  If you grew up in the 1970s, you were likely as big a fan of this show and its Six Million Dollar Man counterpart as I was.  I have written many words on this site about my affection for these iconic shows (not to mention the massive boyhood crush I, and countless others, had on Lindsay Wagner), and I am about to write more.

As much as I loved Season One (and I did), Season Two ups the ante not only in quantity (nearly twice the episodes in this package as in Season One), but in quality.  Things start off in classic fashion as the two-part crossover episodes The Return of Bigfoot Part 1 & 2 pit Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin against time-traveling aliens and Sasquatch.  Yes, this is Grade A cheese, but from a purely nostalgic point of view, these episodes had me grinning from ear to ear.  It’s hard to hate anything which boasts Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family) dressed up like Bigfoot.

Other Season 2 highlights include the epic, 3-part, crossover storyline Kill Oscar in which John Houseman unleashes his Fembots upon the OSI.  These episodes alone make this set worth its already reasonable purchase price.  (And, is it just me, or does Lee Majors spend an inordinate amount of time in these episodes running around with his shirt off?)  The story which follows that, Black Magic, is also a lot of fun (… though it has nothing to do with magic, black or otherwise).  It features Vincent Price in a dual role, a spooky old mansion, classic film stars all scheming to win a deadly scavenger hunt, and Lindsay Wagner looking absolutely stunning dressed like a Gypsy fortune-teller.  Two more 2-part episodes stand out: Doomsday is Tomorrow and Deadly Ringer – the latter would garner Lindsay Wagner her first Emmy Award for Best Actress, as she played Jaime Sommers and her troubled doppleganger Lisa Galloway.

The bonus features on this 5-disc set leave a bit to be desired, but are certainly better than nothing.  Chief among them is an 11-minute featurette called Bionic Blast, which continues what the Season One featurette Bionic Beginnings started.  Much of the discussion here regards the stunt woman and stand in who made Lindsay Wagner’s work a bit easier.  There are also four commentary tracks: two by series creator Kenneth Johnson (Doomsday is Tomorrow Parts 1 & 2) and two by Lindsay Wagner (Road to Nashville and Biofeedback).  While Johnson’s loquaciousness reveals a staggering amount of knowledge about these shows (especially considering they were made 35 years ago), Lindsay Wagner is decidedly more laid back, and it is quite entertaining listening to her reminisce about a show which she obviously enjoys as much as her fans.  Other than a photo gallery, that’s it for the bonus content.  (Well, technically, this set refers to the two crossover 6MDM episodes as “bonus content,” but … come on.)  Like I said, there isn’t a lot, but what’s here is pretty cool.

The discs round out like this:

DIC ONE:
6MDM – The Return of Bigfoot
The Return of Bigfoot Part II
In This Corner, Jaime Sommers
Assault On The Princess

DISC TWO:
Road To Nashville
Kill Oscar
6MDM – Kill Oscar Part II
Kill Oscar Part III
Black Magic

DISC THREE:
Sister Jaime
The Vega Influence
Jaime’s Shield
Jaime’s Shield Part II
Biofeedback

DISC FOUR:
Doomsday Is Tomorrow
Doomsday Is Tomorrow Part II
Deadly Ringer
Deadly Ringer Part II
Jaime And The King

DISC FIVE:
Beyond The Call
The DeJon Caper
The Night Demon
Iron Ships And Dead Men
Once A Thief

Not all of the episodes here are as good as those gems I mentioned earlier.  Although looking back through that list, nothing bad is springing to mind.  I don’t think I was crazy about Sister Jaime … then again, that was the episode where Oscar Goldman is driving down a country road and comes across some nuns tending sheep in the middle of it.  He gets out and tells them, “I’m sorry ladies, but you’re going to have to get the flock out of here.”  I don’t know how that line got slipped in, but I about busted a gut from laughing.

No matter the quality of the individual episodes, the talent, charisma, and beauty of Lindsay Wagner make all the difference.  Quite often the script doesn’t give her a lot to work with, and yet with a tiny smirk, or a roll of the eyes, or a subtle giggle, or a tremulous whisper, she gives this character a rich, and rare, humanity – not bad for a sci-fi kids show.  We CARE about her … especially when she’s battling those creepy Fembots.

Here’s hoping that before the year is out, Universal sees fit to release The Bionic Woman Season 3 (the NBC season, after ABC’s cancellation).  Come to think of it, they should include the 3 reunion movies in that set, like the massive 40-disc complete 6MDM box set did.  Just an idea.  (Yeah, I know they weren’t very good, but they would complete the set, and who wants to pay for them?  Plus, you get 1989-era Sandra Bullock as the bionic girl, remember?)  Until then, this is pure nostalgic candy.  Highly recommended.

THE BIONIC WOMAN SEASON 2: GRADE A-
BONUS CONTENT: B

Continue on to The Bionic Woman Season 3 DVD review.

NOTE: there is a brief problem with the soundtrack during the opening minutes of Deadly Ringer Part 1 – a problem which many of the commenters on Amazon feel is an unforgivable sin.  It was a little annoying, but certainly not the unforgivable faux pas that some of these haters feel it was.  (Sheesh, and I thought I was anal retentive.)  Regarding this, Universal has released the following statement: Every episode in the Bionic Woman Season 2 DVD release has been digitally re-mastered for optimal viewing. However, the remastering cannot correct flaws that either were part of the original presentation or that happened over the passage of time. Certain moments within select episodes from Season 2 may include noticeable moments of imperfect picture or audio. This is reflective of the source material which unfortunately, is the best source material that is available to the studio and cannot be corrected. The episodes are still included in the set to provide as complete a collection as possible.

In fine: be thankful we’ve got this.  We only waited 35 years.

THE BIONIC WOMAN Season One DVD review

Published November 7, 2010

I have written at length on this site about my affection for the 1970’s über shows The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.  From championing the cause of getting these two iconic series released on DVD after decades of legal entanglements, to basically reviewing Season One of The Bionic Woman last year after Hulu decided to put all 14 episodes online.

Still I waited (and waited) for the DVD box sets.  Well … the wait is over.

The Six Million Dollar Man – The Complete Series is being released on November 23rd, 2010 in a massive 40-disc box setThe Bionic Woman Season One was released last month.

Since I already gave my thoughts regarding Season One of The Bionic Woman in last year’s aforementioned Hulu article, allow me to pull some snippets from that post, and add additional thoughts as we go.

After spending a couple days reliving my childhood (all of these episodes are from 1976), I wondered if they would still hold up after so much time. Since this was one of my favorite shows (and yes, I have admitted on here before that back in the day I had a MAJOR crush on Lindsay Wagner), I hoped that 33 years (I honestly cannot recall ever seeing these in syndication) would not tarnish my memories. I needn’t have worried. I already knew that the plots were often simplistic and the special effects cheesy, and that The Bionic Woman’s true appeal was in the talent, beauty, and charisma of its star. Rewatching these episodes again after so many decades merely reminded me of those facts. I was not disappointed in the least …

… well, I will say these first season episodes are a bit plot-heavy, and (if memory serves) seasons 2 and 3 wisely relied more on personal stories (not to mention fembots), but they are still quite enjoyable. In fact, for anyone who grew up in the 70s and had the same affection for this show (and its Six Million Dollar counterpart) as I did, these are incredible comfort food.

I stand by all of that.  But I will add that watching these shows with the help of my TV and DVD player beats the hell out of streaming them online.  Lindsay Wagner literally radiates talent, charisma, and wholesome sex appeal here, and makes it all too obvious why NBC’s ill-conceived Bionic Woman reboot in 2007 was such a dismal failure.

While this set (obviously) contains all 14 first season episodes, it also includes four crossover episodes from The Six Million Dollar Man, entitled simply enough The Bionic Woman Parts 1 & 2, and The Return of The Bionic Woman Parts 1 & 2.  When, in March of 1975, the world was first introduced to Col. Steve Austin’s long lost love, Jaime Sommers, ratings went through the roof.  So did the cards and letters, many from traumatized children who simply could not deal with the tragic death of Jaime’s character, from “bionic rejection.”

And so, after bringing Jaime back to life the following season, she was quickly given her own spinoff series.  I love the scene in The Return of The Bionic Woman when the recently hospitalized Steve Austin thinks he sees Jaime (whom he believes is dead), and takes off so quickly in his wheelchair that he literally screeches the tires and burns rubber on the sidewalk.  These early crossover episodes – which again, I haven’t seen in about 35 years – brought it all home again how much I loved these shows as a kid.

The episodes, spread over four discs, break down like this (synopsis are actual jacket copy):

DISC ONE

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Bionic Woman
The original second season The Six Million Dollar Man episode where Jaime Sommers becomes the Bionic Woman.

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Bionic Woman Part II
Jaime Sommers is sent on her first assignment for the OSI in this second season The Six Million Dollar Man episode.

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Return of the Bionic Woman
Steve learns that Jaime did not die as he was led to believe, but was kept alive with cryogenic techniques by one of Rudy’s assistants. Jaime has just awakened from the cryogenic coma and suffers from memory loss resulting from mild brain damage.

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Return of the Bionic Woman Part II
Steve Austin learns that Jaime Sommers is still alive after seeing her die from a Bionic rejection. However, Jaime has suffered brain damage and no longer remembers anything about her past life, including Steve.

Welcome Home, Jaime
The Six Million Dollar Man episode that launched The Bionic Woman spin-off series. Oscar Goldman arranges a job for Jaime as a schoolteacher, but she also insists on taking on missions for the OSI.  (The DVD liner notes say this is a 6MDM episode – actually it is the first episode of The Bionic Woman.)

DISC TWO

Welcome Home, Jaime Part II
Oscar arranges a “falling out” with Jaime so that she can go undercover in businessman Carlton Harris’ shady organization and determine whether he is trading illegal government secrets.

Angel of Mercy
When Jaime is sent to Costa Brava with ace helicopter pilot Jack Starkey (Andy Griffith) to rescue the U.S. ambassador and his family, the mission becomes infinitely more complicated when the ambassador’s wife is trapped in a collapsed building.

A Thing of the Past
Jaime is the only one who can help an old friend and bus driver (Donald O’Connor) when thugs discover that he has been hiding out in Ojai since witnessing a murder years ago. Lee Majors co-stars.

Claws
Fur is sure to fly when Jaime protects a lion and the other creatures of a wild animal ranch from ranchers out for blood.

The Deadly Missiles
Jaime is forced to investigate her friend, J.T. Conners, after a missile is launched from his property at the very moment the U.S. missile warning system breaks down. Lee Majors co-stars.

DISC THREE

Bionic Beauty
Beauty and brawn are on display when Jaime enters a Miss United States pageant in order to infiltrate a nefarious espionage plan.

Jaime’s Mother
Jaime’s dream about her mother leaves her feeling disturbed – especially when she receives word that her parents’ graves have been vandalized.

Winning is Everything
Hoping to obtain vital information from a foreign country, Jaime becomes a navigator in an international desert auto race.

Canyon of Death
When she is captured by a group that is scheming to steal an atomic-powered device, Jaime’s life depends on a small boy who has “cried wolf” in the past.

DISC FOUR

Fly Jaime
In an effort to protect a doctor and his top-secret formula, Jaime heads to the skies and goes undercover as a flight attendant.

The Jailing of Jaime
Jaime fights to clear her name after the valuable decoding instrument she delivered is discovered on the international market.

Mirror Image
A woman undergoes plastic surgery in order to become Jaime’s double and steal privileged information from Oscar’s files.

The Ghost Hunter
Jaime poses as the governess for a small-town girl (Kristy McNichol) when supernatural forces disturb the classified project being developed by the child’s father.

While plotwise these episodes certainly are a mixed bag, some do stand out among the rest: all of the 6MDM crossover episodes (the chemistry between Majors and Wagner is palpable … even when Lee is warbling Sweet Jaime), Angel of Mercy, The Deadly Missiles, Fly Jaime, and Mirror Image.

Worst episode: Winning is Everything (I consistently wanted to smack Lindsay’s sleazy costar).

Silliest episode: Claws (… why IS that lion allowed to roam free, around kids no less?)

Cheesiest moment: Jaime sings Feelings at a beauty contest (… also, this episode, Bionic Beauty, is eerily close in plot to Miss Congeniality, which would be made 24 years later, and even drops that very term – even weirder, Sandra Bullock, who starred in Miss Congeniality, would, in 1989, costar as the new bionic girl in one of those reunion movies, Bionic Showdown).

Most surreal moments: the chats between Jaime and a young Indian boy in Canyon of Death reminded me weirdly of … Twilight.  I always thought that lovely tomboy Kristen Stewart would make a good Jaime Sommers in a theatrical update of this series (if anyone could figure out how to adapt 6MDM for the big screen), but this episode reminds me of that all over again.  Someone (with better editing equipment than I have) should re-edit portions of this episode with some Bella and Jacob dialogue from the Twilight movies – I think it would be hilarious (… just remember you heard it here first).

Bonus content on this box set includes:

Four commentary tracks by directors Alan J. Levi and James Parriott, and series producer/creator Kenneth Johnson.  Johnson offers a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes factoids.

A short gag reel (… an obvious trimming of some of the longish blooper reels seen on YouTube – Lindsay Wagner could, when frustratingly tongue tied, talk like a sailor).

A photo gallery.

And a 25-minute Making-Of doc called Bionic Beginnings, featuring all new interviews with Lindsay Wagner (still as lovely and charming as ever), Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks, and Kenneth Johnson.  All relate fascinating stories about the production of this iconic show.  Love the moment near the end of this documentary, when Lindsay Wagner is asked if she can make the “bionic noises” when she moves.  Laughing and blushing, she replies that she doesn’t need to because, to this day, everyone around her does it for her.  Hilarious.

The Bionic Woman Season 1 is a MUST HAVE for fans of the show.  If you have children, don’t hesitate to share this kid-friendly program with them.  Sure, by today’s standards, the plots are simplistic and the special effects charmingly cheesy, but those were never the main drawing point of this series anyway.  It’s all about the star – and back in the mid 1970’s, they didn’t come any brighter than Lindsay Wagner.  Highly recommended.

Bring on Season 2!

DVD GRADE: A
BONUS CONTENT: B

AND … check out the video below: a very cool sneak peek at The Six Million Dollar Man – The Complete Series box set.

BIONIC WOMAN CLASSIC NOW ON HULU

Published October 6, 2009

In a previous post, Bionic Blunder: Where Are Those Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman DVDs?, I reported on the legal entanglements between Universal Studios (who owns the TV shows) and Dimension Films (who owns the rights to the source material, Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg), and when we could expect to see any season DVD box sets of these iconic 1970’s shows. While there has been no official news from either source, an interesting development has occurred which may (or may not) signal something exciting on the horizon.
Lindsay Wagner
Hulu.com is now showing all 14 first season episodes of The Bionic Woman (the REAL Bionic Woman, not the weak wannabe that NBC tried a few years ago). After spending a couple days reliving my childhood (all of these episodes are from 1976), I wondered if they would still hold up after so much time. Since this was one of my favorite shows (and yes, I have admitted on here before that back in the day I had a MAJOR crush on Lindsay Wagner), I hoped that 33 years (I honestly cannot recall ever seeing these in syndication) would not tarnish my memories. I needn’t have worried. I already knew that the plots were often simplistic and the special effects cheesy, and that The Bionic Woman’s true appeal was in the talent, beauty and charisma of its star. Rewatching these episodes again after so many decades merely reminded me of those facts. I was not disappointed in the least …

… well, I will say these first season episodes are a bit too plot-heavy, and (if memory serves) seasons 2 and 3 wisely relied more on personal stories, but they are still quite enjoyable. In fact, for anyone who grew up in the 70s and had the same affection for this show (and its Six Million Dollar counterpart) as I did, these are incredible comfort food.

And … it begs the question again: when will we see these shows on DVD? I don’t know. But the fact that Hulu has acquired the rights to show the first season of The Bionic Woman tells me something is moving in the right direction. If the numbers end up going through the roof (and I suspect they will), then perhaps it’s just a matter of time before both Steve and Jamie can come home to our DVD shelves where they belong.

I am posting the two-part pilot, Welcome Home, Jamie below — you can check out Season One of The Bionic Woman on Hulu.com. If you have the same affection for this show as I do, let me know by leaving a comment below.



SANDRA BULLOCK … BIONIC GIRL?

Published April 29, 2008

I mentioned in a previous post, Bionic Blunder, that ABC’s two classic series from the seventies, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman were NOT available on DVD. Since I explained why in that post, I won’t repeat myself here. I also mentioned that, of the three Bionic Reunion movies produced in the late 80s/early 90s, 1989’s Bionic Showdown featured a young Sandra Bullock as Kate Mason, the new bionic girl.

As big of a fan as I was of the original shows, these reunion films were all pretty bad. Er … make that REALLY BAD. Rather than focusing on Steve and Jamie, new and younger costars were featured in an ill-fated effort to find a new spinoff series.

I only bring this up because … I recently found a clip of young Sandy B. as the bionic girl and thought I’d share it. The dialogue is horrible, the acting is horrendous, and someone’s idea of improved bionic effects was adding a little blur to the slow motion. One could throw some Cheetos, Cheez-its, and Cheez-Whiz into a blender and not come up with something this cheesetastic. And yet, our affection for Ms. Bullock makes this oddly watchable.

Here you go … don’t say I didn’t warn you.


SANDRA BULLOCK AS THE BIONIC GIRL – BIONIC SHOWDOWN (1989)




LINDSAY WAGNER – BIONIC WOMAN MONTAGE
(good fan edit to Tom Petty’s American Girl … to cleanse your palette)

BIONIC BLUNDER: Where Are Those Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman DVDs?

Published March 7, 2008

I knew I was getting old (older) when in recent years I heard kids talk about Steve Austin. They, of course, were referring to wrestler Stone Cold … I was thinking Lee Majors.
The Six Million Dollar Man
A child of the 70s, two of my all-time favorite shows were The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. When I was a kid, nothing was cooler than this bionic duo. I know I’m not alone in my geek-love for these shows, nor am I alone in the major crush I had on Lindsay Wagner (who deserves better these days than being spokeswoman for Sleep Number beds). Even by the time Bigfoot, Fembots, and a suspicious pencil-thin mustache were thrown into the mix, nothing could dissuade me from my affection (nay, obsession) with these characters. What kids from this era didn’t practice running in slow motion while mocking the sound effects? Da-na-na-na-na-na-na.

In 1973, ABC-TV produced three television movies based on Martin Caidin’s hit novel, Cyborg, about former astronaut, Steve Austin (Lee Majors), who nearly loses his life while testing an experimental aircraft. Using bionic technology, he is rebuilt (better, stronger, faster), and is thereafter the top agent in the (fictional) OSI. As each movie drew higher ratings, ABC finally gave Colonel Austin his own series, and The Six Million Dollar Man premiered in January uary of 1974. ABC got a smash hit, and Majors was propelled into superstardom.
The Bionic Woman
The next year introduced Steve’s old flame, Jamie Sommers, a tennis pro who is badly injured in a parachute accident. Steve convinces his superiors to save her using the same technology that saved him. They do, but by the end of the two-part episode, Jamie’s body rejects her bionics, and she dies. But this is science fiction, and after being deluged by calls and letters, ABC revived Jamie (who, of course, had been cryogenically frozen), and gave her her own series. Lindsay Wagner starred in The Bionic Woman, and adolescent boys (of all ages) were universally smitten.
Lindsay Wagner
Though ratings for both shows dipped only slightly over the years, both were cancelled in 1978. However, three bionic reunion movies were produced between 1987 and 1994. The second of these, Bionic Showdown, featured none other than a baby-faced, uni-browed, pre-Speed Sandra Bullock as the new Bionic Girl.

So where are the DVD season box sets? Some of the worst shows ever produced are now available on DVD, why the hold-up on these?

Recent reports state that Universal, who owned the rights to Caidin’s novel, Cyborg, let their option on it expire. Meanwhile, Dimension Films, espying the opportunity, swooped in and bought up the rights to Cyborg and all related works. So, as it stands, Universal still owns both series, but Dimension lays claim to all “bionic concept” projects. Until a deal can be struck between these warring factions, we will not see these shows on DVD in the U.S. Ironically, both shows are available on Region 2 discs overseas, where legal rights are apparently different. Also, NBC’s ill-conceived, ill-fated update of The Bionic Woman featured no characters from Cyborg, and the bionics were “different” than Caidin’s novel (in case you were wondering WTF was up with that).

ONE MORE PIC OF LINDSAY WAGNER (SORRY COULDN’T HELP MYSELF)
Lindsay Wagner
Why can’t these kids just get along? There is a TON of money to be made by both parties here, and a generation who grew up on these shows is chomping at the bit to watch them again. If you grew up in the seventies, and were a fan, can you even remember the last time you saw an episode in syndication? There is an online petition to get these iconic shows released on DVD, and I encourage all to sign it.

Special effects may be more sophisticated today (and maybe I am remembering these programs through the soft-focus of 30 years), but what made these shows so special wasn’t the f/x (cheesy even then), but the charisma and utter likability of its leads.

Steve and Jamie, come home soon. Run in slow-mo if you have to, but get here!

For an update on this story, click here.



THE WORDSLINGER’S 3RD ANNIVERSARY

Published December 19, 2010

Einstein was right when he posited that time is relative … ‘cause damn if this year didn’t fly by.  I know that everybody says that at year’s end but, as we’ve all experienced bad years that were slower than erosion, something must be screwing with the space/time continuum.  Anyhoo …

As it has been damn near 3 years since my humble website, TheWordslinger, went live on December 28th, 2007, I thought I would throw you an update and a year end recap.

In June of this year, 2010, I finally (FINALLY!) published my first novel, BROODING – The Heartland Chronicles Book One.  20 years in the making, this book has truly been a labor of love … and hate … and frustration … but mostly love.  My book signings have been very successful, and more are scheduled for 2011 – I will keep you abreast (uh huh huh) of dates and places.  Expect a massive marketing push in the coming months.  To find out more and purchase the book, please visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE.  Copies can also be found on Amazon.com.

Since its inception, TheWordslinger has had nearly 200,000 visitors, numerous plugs on other high-profile sites, and is going stronger all the time.  If you are a return visitor here, thanks again for keeping me in your Favorites.

Some of this year’s more notable articles include:

The Bionic Woman Season One DVD review – long time coming
John Carpenter’s ELVIS – DVD review – really long time coming
BROODING by Andy Williamson PUBLISHED! – really really long time coming
TheWordslinger’s Amazing Day – really, really, really long time coming

Some of my most popular articles:

King, Kubrick, and The Shining
A Tale of II Supermans
Psycho Babble – The Legacy of Norman Bates
Modern Day Magdalene Part 1 and Part 2

If you’re new here, dig around in the categories – with over 300 posts, there’s always something of interest to do on this site.

Elsewhere on these crazy/cool interwebs …

My two entertainment columns on EXAMINER.COM have reached record numbers this year, and are climbing exponentially.  If you’ve never visited those pages, I will put some links below.  Remember I get paid every time someone views an article.

CELEBRITY PROFILE EXAMINER – Where I literally write short (ha!) biographies of celebrities.  This database is meant to compete with similar features on IMDb and Wikipedia.  Ever since Examiner did a massive platform update last summer, these profiles have been receiving more than 100,000 views every month – that’s over 1.2 million a year and growing fast.  Even when I don’t work on it, this column literally supports me (how cool is that?) while I work on marketing the book.  You can check out the main page HERE.

Some of my most popular profiles (as searched for on Google) include:

Winona Ryder – doe-eyed beauty, always in the top 2 or 3
Taylor LautnerTwilight fans helping to keep a roof over my head, cool
Linda Hamilton – NOT in the news, but always in my top 10 hits, go figure
Drew Barrymore – everyone loves Drew
Elvis Presley – ditto for the King
Jack Nicholson – you don’t know Jack
William Shatner – my boyhood hero
Leonard Nimoy – my boyhood hero’s homeboy
Christina Ricci – always adorable, and always a lot of hits
Salma Hayek – talented, muy calienté, and massive amounts of tits hits
Stephen King – a ridiculously detailed bio of my favorite author

… and way too many more to list here.

POP CULTURE NEWS EXAMINER – Much of this column is made up of articles that are also posted here on TheWordslinger, everything from movie, book, and DVD reviews, to anything else pop culture related.  This column doesn’t receive anywhere near as many visitors as my Celebrity Profile page, but does give me a nice place to link to which still pays me.

If you visit either of these pages, be sure to subscribe to them so you will know whenever I post a new article.

I haven’t put up any Churchianity articles in a while.  Although I did write one a couple of months ago entitled CHURCHIANITY Part VIII: Bitterness.  In some ways it was/is one of the most personal articles I’ve ever written but, as I was not happy with the ending, I have held it back.  If I can figure out the capper on it, I will be sure to post it.  (If this sounds interesting to you, tell me so in the Comments section below.  I’m not cheap, but I can be had – flattery may get you everywhere.)

This has also been a year of great change.  Besides getting the book published, I moved (again), and have made a serious effort to cut away all of the destructive things, crazy people, and otherwise negative elements in my life that were driving me batty and holding me back from the future.  Pardon my French, but …

FUCK THE PAST!  I’ve had it.  I’m done.  Finished, finis, finito.

As for the FUTURE, I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m making a living doing what I love, and I am working toward even bigger dreams (can you say Book II, and a film adaptation of Book I?).  What’s to complain about?

Have a Groovy New Year, come back soon, and (say it with me):

Don’t take any shit from anybody!