The Six Million Dollar Man
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Six Million Dollar Man Opening credits
Genre: Science Fiction
Written by: Martin Caidin (novel)
Starring: Lee Majors, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks
Country of origin: United States
Nunmber of seasons: 5
Nunmber of episodes: 100 + 6 TV Movies
Executive producer: Harve Bennett
Producer: Kenneth Johnson
Running time: 60 minutes
Broadcast: Original channel ABC
Original run: 18 January 1974 - 6 March 1978
The Six Million Dollar Man is an American television series about a fictional cyborg working for the OSI (which was usually said to refer to the Office of Scientific Intelligence, but sometimes was called the Office of Scientific Investigation as well as the Office of Strategic Intelligence). The show was based on the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, and aired on the ABC network as a regular series from 1974 to 1978, after following three television movies aired in 1973. The title role of Steve Austin was played by Lee Majors, who subsequently became a pop culture icon of the 1970s. A spin off of the show was produced called The Bionic Woman.
The background story of the original novel and the later series is the crash of former astronaut Steve Austin in ''lifting body'' craft, shown in the opening credits of the show (the lifting body craft mostly shown was a Northrop M2-F2, however in the episode ''The Deadly Replay'', a Northrop HL-10, identified as such in dialog, was used). Austin is severely injured in the crash and is ''rebuilt'' in a title giving operation that costs six million dollars. His right arm, both legs and the left eye are replaced by ''bionic'' implants that enhance his strength, speed and vision far above human norms: he can run at speeds of 60 miles per hour (100 km/h), and his eye has a 20:1 zoom lens and infrared capabilities. He uses his enhanced abilities to work for the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) as a secret agent (and as a guinea pig for bionics).
Caidin's novel was a best seller when it was published in 1972 and was followed by three sequels, Cyborg II: Operation Nuke, Cyborg III: High Crystal, and Cyborg IV (with no subtitle), respectively about a black market in nuclear weapons, a Chariots of the Gods scenario, and fusing Austin's bionics to a space plane.
In the spring of 1973, Cyborg was loosely adapted as a made for TV movie starring Lee Majors as Austin (although usually referred to by the title The Six Million Dollar Man, and that is the precise wording used on the original ABC broadcast, this film is sometimes cited by the longer title Cyborg: Six Million Dollar Man). The adaptation was done by writer Howard Rodman working under the pseudonym of Henri Simoun. The film, which was nominated for a Hugo Award, modified Caidin's plot, and notably made Austin a civilian astronaut, rather than an Air Force officer. Absent were some of the standard features of the later series: the electronic sound effects, the slow motion running, and the character of Oscar Goldman (instead, another character named Oliver Spencer, played by Darren McGavin, was Austin's supervisor, of an organization here called the OSO). The lead scientist involved in making Austin bionic, Dr. Rudy Wells, was played in the pilot by Martin Balsam, then on an occasional basis in the series by Alan Oppenheimer, and, finally, as a series regular, by Martin E. Brooks. Austin does not use the enhanced capabilities of his bionic eye at any time during the film.
The first film was a major ratings success and was followed by two more made for TV films that fall, Wine, Women and War and Solid Gold Kidnapping (the former bearing strong resemblances to Caidin's second Cyborg novel, Operation Nuke; the latter was an original story), followed by the debut, in January 1974, of The Six Million Dollar Man as a weekly hour long series. The last two movies, produced by Glen A. Larson, notably introduced a James Bond flavor to the series and reinstated Austin's status from the novels as an Air Force colonel; the hour long series, produced by Harve Bennett, dispensed with the James Bond gloss of the movies, and portrayed a more down to earth Austin.
The show was very popular during its run and introduced many pop culture elements of the 1970s, such as the show's opening catch phrase ''We can rebuild him - we have the technology.'', the slow motion action sequences, and the accompanying ''electronic'' sound effects. The slow motion action sequences were originally referred to as ''Kung Fu slow motion'' in popular culture (due to its usage in the 1970s martial arts television series), but it became far more noteworthy in The Six Million Dollar Man. (Early episodes, as well as the TV movies, were not consistent in how the bionics effects were presented; such consistency did not begin until the second season.)
In 1975, a two part episode entitled ''The Bionic Woman'' introduced the character of Jaime Sommers, a professional tennis player who rekindled an old romance with Austin, only to experience a parachuting accident that resulted in her being given bionic parts similar to Austin. Ultimately, however, her bionics failed and she died. The character was very popular, however, and the following season she was revived (having been cryogenically frozen) and was given her own spin off series, The Bionic Woman, which lasted until 1978 when both it and The Six Million Dollar Man were simultaneously cancelled.
Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers returned in three subsequent made for television movies: ''The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man'' and ''The Bionic Woman'' (1987), ''Bionic Showdown'' (1989), which featured Sandra Bullock in an early role as a new bionic woman; and ''Bionic Ever After'' (1994) in which Austin and Sommers finally marry. Majors reprised the role of Steve Austin in all three productions, which also featured Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. The reunion films addressed Jaime Sommers' amnesia she suffered during the original series, and featured Lee Majors son as a new OSI agent. The first two movies were written in the anticipation of creating new bionic characters in their own series, but nothing further was seen of these new characters.
For many years, attempts have been made to bring the story of Steve Austin to the movie screen. In the mid 1990s, director Kevin Smith wrote a screenplay (which he talks about on the DVD ''An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder'' from 2006), and there were reports later that comedian Chris Rock was being considered for the role. In 2003, an announcement was made to film the story as a full out comedy starring Jim Carrey but that project appears to be on hold. In a July 2006 interview at Comic Con, Richard Anderson (who played Oscar Goldman in the series) stated that he is involved with producing a movie of the series but the rights are in litigation between Miramax and Universal. A post on writer Kenneth Johnson's website, indicates there are similar problems regarding DVD release of the series in North America, although Region 2 (the United Kingdom) has so far seen the release of the first two seasons since 2005. In 2007, NBC launched a reimagined version of Bionic Woman which integrates elements of The Six Million Dollar Man by having Jaime Sommers equipped with an eye implant in addition to the traditional ones.
The opening sequence featured NASA's 1967 footage of a real life accident of the Northrop M2-F2 lifting body tumbling end for end down the runway caused by piloting error. The pilot, Bruce Peterson actually survived reasonably unscathed, although he lost an eye due to an infection acquired while in the hospital. In the opening sequence, the Oscar Goldman character intones, ''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.'' The opening credits actually used footage of two different lifting bodies; the HL-10, shown dropping away from its carry plane, and the M2-F2 shown in the unstable flight/crash sequence. (The aircraft was actually referred to as being an ''HL-10'' in the series, and the real HL-10 was used in a later episode; however, in the 1987 TV film The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman Austin refers to it as the ''M3F5'', which is the name used for the aircraft that crashes in the original Cyborg novel.)
Dusty Springfield sang a theme song written by Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips, which was used in the opening and closing credits for the Wine, Women & War and Solid Gold Kidnapping telefilms. The song was also used in the promotion of the series, but when the weekly series began the song was replaced by the instrumental theme. The first regular episode, ''Population Zero'', introduced a new element to the opening sequence: a voiceover of Oscar Goldman stating the rationale behind creating a bionic man. The first season narration was shorter than that used in the second and subsequent seasons.
Steve Austin, the title character (played by Lee Majors)
Oscar Goldman, the Director of the OSI (played by Richard Anderson)
Dr. Rudy Wells, Austin’s physician and primary overseer of the medical aspects of bionic technology (played by Martin Balsam (pilot only) /Alan Oppenheimer (seasons 1 and 2) /Martin E. Brooks (seasons 3-5 and three movies) (due to the change in actor, in ''The Return of the Bionic Woman'', Wells undergoes an appearance change between Jaime Sommers' death and a desperate plea for revival only minutes later).
Jaime Sommers played by Lindsay Wagner, recurring
Oliver Spencer, Director of the OSO in the pilot only (played by Darren McGavin)
Peggy Callahan, (played by Jennifer Darling), secretary to Oscar Goldman, recurring
A roster of guest stars
Many familiar and/or unfamiliar actors who guest starred on the show became successful actors: Lee Majors' then wife Farrah Fawcett-Majors made four guest appearances. Andre The Giant, Elizabeth Ashley, Kim Basinger, Noah Beery Jr., Sonny Bono, Gary Collins, Jack Colvin, Lou Gossett, Yvonne Craig, Larry Csonka, Dick Butkus, Dana Elcar, Erik Estrada, Maurice Evans, Mike Farrell, Beverly Garland, Katherine Helmond, Earl Holliman, Jayne Kennedy, Gerald McRaney, Don Porter, Stefanie Powers, Rodney Allen Rippy, Pernell Roberts, Dale Robertson, Dick Sargent, John Saxon, Anne Schedeen, William Shatner, Suzanne Somers, Rick Springfield, George Takei, Kevin Tighe, Ray Walston among many others. Future Heavyweight champion George Foreman, also made a cameo appearance. Future Eight is Enough stars, Dick Van Patten and Adam Rich made guest starring roles, respectively, and future serials, The Young and The Restless rising stars Eric Braeden and Jess Walton both guest starred on different episodes, and future Knots Landing stars, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills, guest starred on separate episodes.
A 20.2:1 zoom lens along with a night vision function in the left eye (as well as the restoration of normal vision). The figure of 20.2:1 is taken from the faux computer graphics in the opening credits; the only figure actually mentioned in the series, by Austin himself, is 20:1, in the episode ''Population: Zero.'' Austin's bionic eye also has other features, such as an infrared feature used frequently to see in the dark, and he has also demonstrated the ability to detect heat (as in the episode ''The Pioneers'') and view humanoid beings moving too fast for a normal eye to see (as in the ''Secret of Bigfoot'' story arc). In Caidin's original novels, Austin's eye was originally depicted as simply a camera (which had to be physicially removed after use) and Austin remained blind in the eye; later, he gained the ability to shoot a laser from the eye (this ability is also demonstrated in the first issue of the Six Million Dollar Man comic book issued by Charlton Comics).
Bionic legs allowing him to run at tremendous speed and make great leaps. Austin's upper speed limit was never firmly established, although a speed of 60 mph is commonly quoted since this figure is shown on a speed gauge during the opening credits; the highest speed ever shown in the series on a speed gauge is 66 mph; the later revival films suggested that he could run faster, however.
A Bionic right arm with the equivalent strength of a bulldozer; the arm contains a Geiger counter (established in ''The Last of the Fourth of Julys'').
The implants have a major flaw in that extreme cold interferes with their functions and can disable them given sufficient exposure. However, when Austin returns to a warmer temperature, the implants quickly regain full functionality.
The Charlton Comics comic book spin off from the series also established that Austin's bionic eye could shoot a laser beam and also worked as a miniature camera (these abilities were demonstrated in the first issues of the color comic and black and white illustrated magazine, respectively), but neither function was shown on television and are not considered canonical.
The series became known for how Austin's bionic abilities were presented. When running or using his bionic arm, Austin was usually presented in slow motion, accompanied by an electronic grinding like sound effect. When the bionic eye was used, the camera would zoom in on Austin's face, followed by an extreme close up of his eye; his point of view usually included a crosshair motif accompanied by a beeping sound effect. In early episodes, different ways of presenting Austin's powers were tested, including a heartbeat sound effect that predated the electronic sound, and in the three original made for TV movies, no sound effects or slow motion were used at all, with Austin's actions shown at normal speed (except for his running which utilized trick photography); the slow motion portrayal was introduced with the first hour long episode, ''Population: Zero.''
Changes for television
A number of changes had to be made to Caidin's version of the character to make him work for television. In the original novels, Austin was a cold blooded killer, while the TV version rarely killed after his status as a childhood hero had been realized, and in fact Austin explicitly states his opposition to killing in the pilot film.
A number of changes to Austin's bionics were also made. In the novel, Austin's left arm, not his right, was the bionic one. Also, the arm was little more than a superpowered battering ram and not as complex as the TV version. Austin was blind in his bionic eye in the books, which was simply used as alternately a camera or a laser, and was removable.
The book version of Steve Austin had some abilities the TV version lacked, such as a radio transmitter contained within a rib, a steel reinforced skull that made it impossible for him to be knocked out with a blow to the head, and a CO2 powered poison dart gun in one of his bionic fingers which the literary version of Austin often used to eliminate bad guys.
Another minor change was a matter of spelling: in the original novels, the term ''bionics'' was always used in its pure Greek form, e.g. ''bionics limbs,'' rather than the backformed adjective ''bionic'' (a formation based on the incorrect perception, which Caidin points out in the novel, that the Greek ''-ics'' suffix is plural). Perhaps to make it easier to say in dialogue, this was changed to ''bionic limbs'' et al. for the television series. The word ''bionics'' is never actually uttered during the first pilot film.
One character name was also initially changed. In the original novel Austin's superior is Oscar Goldman, as he is in the series; however, in the pilot film the name was changed to Oliver Spencer. The opening credits of the second pilot film, Wine, Women and War, performs retconning to eliminate Spencer and reinstate Goldman as the government chief who authorizes Austin's conversion; Goldman is also portrayed as a friendlier and more sympathetic character than Spencer, whom Austin accuses of being little more than a robot. In Caidin's novel, Austin is recruited by the Office of Strategic Operations (OSO). In the TV pilot, it is still referred to verbally as the OSO, but door labels are OSI. Later TV episodes completed the change to OSI, and the first season episode Operation Firefly identified this as the Office of Scientific Intelligence (shown on Steve Austin's ID card). The pilot film changed Austin's character, making him a civilian member of NASA, rather than the Air Force colonel he was in the original novel; his military rank and background was restored for the TV series and no further reference was made to him being a civilian astronaut.
Martin Caidin wrote four novels featuring his original version of Steve Austin beginning in 1972 with Cyborg. Although several other writers such as Mike Jahn would later write a number of novelizations based upon the TV series, in most cases these writers chose to base their character upon the literary version of Austin rather than the TV show version. As a result, several of the novelizations have entire scenes and in one case an ending that differed from the original episodes, as the cold blooded killer of Caidin's novels handled things somewhat differently than his watered down TV counterpart. For example, the Jahn book International Incidents, an adaptation of the episode ''Love Song for Tanya'', ends with Austin using the poison dart gun in his bionic hand to kill an enemy agent; since the TV version of the character lacked this weapon, the villain was simply captured in the episode as broadcast.
Original novels (all by Martin Caidin)
Operation Nuke (1973)
High Crystal (1974)
Cyborg IV (1975)
(Of the above, only Cyborg was adapted for television.)
Wine, Women and War - Mike Jahn
Solid Gold Kidnapping - Evan Richards
Pilot Error - Jay Barbree
The Rescue of Athena One - Jahn
The Secret of Bigfoot Pass (UK title, The Secret of Bigfoot) - Jahn
International Incidents - Jahn (this volume adapted several episodes into one interconnected storyline)
Charlton Comics published both a color comic book and a black and white, illustrated magazine, featuring original adventures as well as differing adaptations of the original TV movie. While the comic book was closely based upon the series, the magazine was darker and more violent and seemed to be based more upon the literary version of the character. Both magazines were cancelled around the same time the TV series ended. Artists Howard Chaykin and Neal Adams were frequent contributors to both publications.
A British comic strip version was also produced, written by Angus P. Allan, drawn by Martin Asbury and printed in TV comic Look-In. A series of standalone comic strips was printed on the packaging of a series of model kits by Fundimensions based upon the series. In Colombia, a black and white comic book series was published in the late 1970s, with art and stories by Jorge Peña. This series was licensed by Universal studios to Greco (Grupo Editorial Colombiano), then known as Editora Cinco, now part of Grupo Editorial Televisa. In France, Télé-Junior, a magazine devoted to comic book adaptations of all sorts of TV series and cartoons also featured a Six Million Dollar Man comic (under its French title, L'Homme qui valait trois milliards) with art by Pierre Le Goff and stories by P. Tabet and Bodis. A tradepaperback reprinting several episodes from the magazine was released in October, 1980.
Peter Pan Records and its sister company Power Records published several record albums featuring original dramatized stories (including an adaptation of the pilot film), several of which were also adapted as comic books designed to be read along with the recording. Three albums' worth of stories were released, one of which featured Christmas themed stories. Individual stories were also released in other formats, including 7 inch singles.
In 1996, a new comic book series entitled Bionix was announced, to be published by Maximum Press. The comic was to have been an updated version of both the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman and feature new renditions of the two characters. Although the magazine was advertised in comic book trade publications, it was ultimately never published.
The Six Million Dollar Man spawned a number of toys, a Parker Brothers board game, and other licensed merchandise. Everything from lunch boxes and running shoes to children's eyeglasses and bedsheets all carried images of Steve Austin. The 12 inch tall Steve Austin action figure marketed by Kenner in the mid 1970s was particularly popular and intact Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman toys continue to attract premium prices on the collector's market. Besides the lead characters, 12 inch scale action figures were also produced of Oscar Goldman (with an ''exploding'' briefcase similar to the type used by James Bond in From Russia with Love), ''Maskatron'' (an android character based upon a cyborg played by John Saxon in several episodes), a Fembot (from a Bionic Woman episode) and the recurring character of Bigfoot (the Bigfoot doll was more than 12 inches high). Associated merchandise for use with the action figures included a rocketship that could transform into a bionic repair station, an inflatable command base, auxiliary bionic arms (critical assignment arms) with different features (such as one that included a flashlight), auxiliary bionic legs (critical assignment legs) with different features. Fully intact Steve Austin action figures are rare. The bionic right arms of the dolls were covered in an elastic, skin like material (intended to be rolled back to reveal bionic modules underneath) and this material tended to deteriorate over time. Early versions of the arms also included removable bionic modules that could be easily lost; later versions of the action figured included modules that could not be removed.
The Bionic Woman
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Genre: Science fiction, Action, Adventure, Drama, Superhero
Created by: Kenneth Johnson
Based on: Cyborg by Martin Caidin
Starring: Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks
Theme music composer: Jerry Fielding
Country of origin: United States
Original language: English
Number of seasons: 3
Number of episodes: 58
Camera setup: Single camera
Running time: 48 minutes
Production companies: MCA / Universal in association with Harve Bennett Productions
Distributor: MCA TV
Original network: ABC (1976 – 1977), NBC (1977 – 1978), CBS
Audio format: Monaural
Original release: January 14, 1976 - May 13, 1978
The Bionic Woman is an American science fiction action-adventure television series created by Kenneth Johnson, starring Lindsay Wagner that aired from January 14, 1976, to May 13, 1978. The Bionic Woman series features Jaime Sommers, who takes on special high risk government missions using her superhuman bionic powers. The Bionic Woman series is a spin off from the 1970s Six Million Dollar Man television science fiction action series.
Lindsay Wagner stars as professional tennis player Jaime Sommers, who becomes critically injured during a skydiving accident. Jaime’s life is saved by Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) and Dr. Rudy Wells (Alan Oppenheimer) with bionic surgical implants similar to those of The Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin (Lee Majors). Through the use of cybernetic implants, known as bionics, Jaime is fitted with an amplified bionic ear which allows her to hear at low volumes and at various frequencies and over uncommonly long distances. She also has extraordinary strength in her bionic right arm and in both legs that enables her to jump great distances and run at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour. She is then assigned to secret missions as an occasional agent of the Office of Scientific Intelligence, while teaching middle and high school students in her regular life.
The series proved highly popular worldwide, gaining high ratings in the U.S. and particularly so in the U.K. (where it became the only science fiction programme to achieve the No.1 position in the ratings during the 20th century). The series ran for three seasons, from 1976 to 1978, first on the ABC network and then the NBC network for its final season. Years after its cancellation, three spin off TV movies were produced between 1987 and 1994. Reruns of the show aired on Sci-Fi Channel from 1993 to 2001. A remake of the series was produced in 2007.
The character of Jaime Sommers first appears in a two part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1975 titled “The Bionic Woman”. In the first episode, Steve travels to his old hometown of Ojai, California, to buy a ranch that is for sale and to visit his mother and stepfather. During his visit, he rekindles his old relationship with Jaime Sommers, now one of America’s top tennis players. While on a skydiving date, Jaime’s parachute malfunctions and she plummets to the ground, falling through tree branches, hitting the ground and suffering traumatic injuries to her head, legs, and right arm. Steve then makes an emotional plea to his boss, Oscar Goldman, to save Jaime’s life by making her bionic, when Oscar balks, Steve commits Jaime to becoming an operative of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI). Goldman ultimately gives in and assigns Dr. Rudy Wells (played at this point in the series by Alan Oppenheimer) and the bionics team to rebuild her.
Jaime’s body is reconstructed with parts similar to Steve’s, but the actual cost of rebuilding her is not revealed. It is said humorously in dialogue to be less than the $6 million it cost to rebuild Austin because the replacement parts for her were “smaller” (though in Germany the show was called Die Sieben Millionen Dollar Frau, which translates as The Seven Million Dollar Woman). Jaime is given two bionic legs, capable of propelling her at speeds exceeding 60 mph (having been clocked at more than 62 mph in “Doomsday Is Tomorrow” and outpacing a race car going 100 mph in “Winning is Everything”) and jumping to and from great heights, and her right arm is replaced by a life like prosthetic capable of bending steel or throwing objects great distances. Whereas Austin received a bionic eye, the inner mechanism of Jaime’s right ear is replaced by a bionic device that gives her amplified hearing such that she can detect most sounds regardless of volume or frequency. These bionic implants cannot be distinguished from natural body parts, except on occasions where they sustain damage and the mechanisms beneath the skin become exposed, as seen in Part 2 of the episode “Doomsday Is Tomorrow", when Jaime sustained damage to her right leg. Jaime discovers on vacation in the Bahamas her artificial bionic skin cannot suntan with exposure to sunlight. It is also revealed in Part 2 of "Doomsday Is Tomorrow” that Jaime’s artificial limbs don’t perspire like normal human skin.
After Jaime recovers from her operation, Steve tries to break his agreement with Oscar that she will serve as an agent for OSI. Jaime agrees to undertake a mission for Oscar despite Steve’s concerns. During the mission her bionics malfunction, and she experiences severe and crippling headaches. Dr. Wells determines that Jaime’s body is rejecting her bionic implants and a massive cerebral clot is causing her headaches and malfunctions. Soon after, she goes berserk and forces her way out of the hospital. Steve pursues and catches her, and she collapses in his arms. Soon after, Jaime dies on the operating table when her body shuts down.
The character was so popular that ABC asked the writers to find a way to bring her back. In the first episode of the next season, it is revealed that Jaime had not died after all, but Steve was not told. He soon discovers the truth when he is hospitalized after suffering severe damage to his bionic legs; he sees Jaime before slipping into a coma. As Steve later learns, Wells’ assistant, Dr. Michael Marchetti, had urged Rudy (now played by Martin E. Brooks) to try his newly developed cryogenic techniques to keep Jaime in suspended animation until the cerebral clot could be safely removed, after which she was successfully revived. A side effect of the procedure causes Jaime to develop retrograde amnesia, preventing her from recalling previous events including her relationship with Steve. Any attempt to remember causes her headaches and pain. Steve reluctantly lets her go on to live her own life as an agent for the OSI, although the pair would frequently work together on missions and establish a new friendship.
Jaime, now retired as a tennis player, takes a job as a schoolteacher at an Air Force base in Ojai, California. She lives in an apartment over a barn located on the ranch owned by Steve’s mother and stepfather, both of whom are aware of their bionic implants and their lives as secret agents. Season three opened with the two part episode “The Bionic Dog”, in which Jaime discovers Max (short for Maximillion), a German Shepherd dog that has been given a bionic jaw and legs who could run at speeds of up to 90 mph. His bionics pre-date Steve’s and Jamie’s, as he was a lab animal used to test early bionic prosthetics. He was named “Maximillion” because his bionics cost “a million” dollars. When he was introduced, he experienced symptoms suggesting bionic rejection and was due to be put to sleep. Jaime discovered the condition was psychological, stemming from a traumatic lab fire that injured him when he was a puppy. With Jaime’s help, Max was cured and went to live with her, proving himself to be of considerable help in some of her adventures. The original intent was to create a spin off series featuring The Bionic Dog, and at the end of the two part episode that introduced him, it was implied Max would stay with Jaime’s forest ranger friend Roger Grette in the Sierra Mountains and Jaime would visit occasionally. However, the network rejected the proposed spin-off series and Max stayed with Jaime instead, making several appearances throughout the third season of The Bionic Woman.
Production and broadcast
To maintain the show’s plausibility, creator / executive producer Kenneth Johnson set very specific limits on Jaime Sommers’s abilities. He elaborated, “When you’re dealing with the area of fantasy, if you say, ‘Well, they’re bionic so they can do whatever they want,’ then it gets out of hand, so you’ve got to have really, really tight rules. [Steve and Jaime] can jump up two stories but not three. They can jump down three stories but not four. Jaime can’t turn over a truck but she can turn over a car.” These limits were occasionally incorporated into episodes, such as “Kill Oscar Part 1”, in which Jaime is forced to make a jump that’s too far down for her bionic legs, causing massive damage to them and nearly causing her death as a result.
The series premiered on ABC in January 1976, as a mid season replacement for the sitcoms When Things Were Rotten and That’s My Mama. With fourteen episodes airing from January 1976 to May 1976, it became the fifth most watched television show of the whole 1975 - 1976 season, despite only running for half the season, ranking behind Maude, Laverne & Shirley, Rich Man, Poor Man, and All In The Family, and slightly ahead of The Six Million Dollar Man. Season two ran from September 1976 to May 1977 with 22 episodes and finished with good ratings (#14 overall, slightly behind The Six Million Dollar Man). Season two also had its most notable episodes, “Kill Oscar” in which Jaime fights the fembots, and “Deadly Ringer”, for which Wagner won an Emmy Award. Although the show performed well during season two, ABC elected not to renew the series, feeling it was no longer attracting the kind of demographic that ABC wanted (ABC head Fred Silverman was notorious for his focus on demographics). NBC picked up the show for a third (and final) season, which ran from September 1977 to May 1978 with 22 episodes and featured a new character, Chris Williams (Christopher Stone), as a recurring love interest for Jaime. This was due in part to the change of networks, which prevented further crossovers by Jaime’s former love interest, Steve Austin; however, in a situation still considered unique, Anderson and Brooks continued to play their roles in both series, despite the network differential.
The series proved popular worldwide, particularly so in the United Kingdom, where it was shown on the ITV network and achieved unusually high audience figures for a science fiction show. The first episode of the series “Welcome Home Jaime” was shown on 1 July 1976 and was the most watched programme of the week. It was watched in 7 million homes, giving it an average of 14 million viewers. Two weeks later, the show’s third episode (Angel of Mercy) also became the most watched program of the week. Its success continued with a further 10 episodes scoring in the top 20 during 1976. (By contrast, The Six Million Dollar Man never once entered the top 10 rating during its five seasons, though this was most likely due to the fact that the show was never broadcast across all ITV stations at the same time). The second season also proved popular, with seven episodes finishing in the weekly top 20, the highest of these being the episode The Vega Influence on 12 May 1977, which reached No. 8 with 14.8 million viewers. The third season was not broadcast simultaneously across all ITV stations in the UK, however, and therefore no episodes reached the weekly Top 20.