The Six Million Dollar Man was a show that ran on ABC from 1974-1978. Based on the book, Cyborg by Martin Caidin, the show starred Lee Majors and Richard Anderson. Prior to getting picked up by the network, it ran as a series of three television pilot movies focusing on astronaut, Colonel Steve Austin.
Austin was flying an experimental aircraft for NASA when a horrendous accident occurred leaving him half dead and broken. Using advanced technology for the 1970s, they replace his right arm, both legs and his left eye with bionic implants. As a result, Austin becomes a superman. He is unusually strong, can run 60 mph and he is blessed with a zoom lens and infrared capabilities in his eye.
The Office of Scientific Intelligence or OSI is run by a man named Oscar Goldman who is played by veteran character actor, Richard Anderson. Goldman ends up recruiting Austin to be a special agent for the organization. Reluctantly, he agrees to work for the agency but he doesn’t like it.
Each week, Austin would be sent on missions where he would have to perform feats of superhuman strength in order to save someone or defeat an enemy. The best part about these endeavors was the incredible sound effects used to convey Austin’s Herculean efforts. Another thing that became iconic during the run of this show was the slow-motion action sequences.
In 1975, a two-part episode arc ran that introduced the character of Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) to audiences was very well received. Sommers was a professional tennis player who was Steve Austin’s love interest. After a tragic sky diving accident, Austin convinces the OSI to give her bionic parts as well. Her body ends up rejecting the bionics and Jaime dies. Because she was so popular they brought her back to life and created a spin off series for her, The Bionic Woman.
Both shows were cancelled in 1978, only to be resurrected in three television movies. The first one aired in 1987, the second aired in 1989 and starred a young Sandra Bullock in one of her first acting roles. The last installment in 1994 saw Austin and Sommers tie the knot. Lee Majors starred in all three telepics along with Richard Anderson.
Forty-three years after the fact, this show still has a place in popular culture. The beginning voice over, “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.” has been used in a song by Daft Punk as well as a commercial.
The Six Million Dollar Man spawned an action figure (which I owned) and even a comic book series. According to IMDB, the feature film adaptation, The Six Billion Dollar Man is currently in development. At one point Mark Wahlberg was said to be attached to it. Lee Majors just finished a successful stint on the second season of Ash vs Evil Dead with Bruce Campbell, playing Ash Williams’ father, Brock.
Categories: Cult TV Essentials