With the recent opening of Wonder Woman in theaters and discussions about female action heroines, I decided to do a retrospective on one of my favorite television characters from my youth, The Bionic Woman. The show was a spin-off of the successful series The Six Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors.
This program aired from 1976-1978. Originally, ABC was the parent network but they chose not to renew the show after season two citing, “not appealing to the right demographic.” For the third and final season, NBC picked up the show.
The premise of The Bionic Woman was similar to the Six Million Dollar Man. Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) was a professional tennis player who became critically injured after a sky diving accident. Since Jaime was the romantic interest of Steve Austin (Majors), he was able to convince his boss, Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) to make her bionic.
Jaime receives a bionic ear as well as an arm and legs. With the cybernetic implants, she is able to hear low frequencies and over vast distances in comparison to regular humans. Like Austin, she can run over 60 miles per hour and has incredible strength in her arm.
Not as lucky as Austin, Jaime has to fight for her life once again after experiencing a near fatal rejection of her new bionic parts. However, once she recovers, she is pressed into service as an operative with the Office of Scientific Investigations (OSI). By day, her cover is a school teacher which is excellent subterfuge for her real occupation which is a secret agent.
On any given mission for the OSI, Jaime could find herself pitted against groups like the Fembots or even Bigfoot. The series was popular worldwide as fans tuned in weekly to take part in the ongoing adventures. After the show’s demise in 1978, several successful television movies were made such as The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman in 1987.
The second movie, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman featured Sandra Bullock as another cybernetic creation. This film did so well that a third one was commissioned in 1994. Bionic Ever After saw Steve Austin and Jaime finally tie the knot.
Merchandising was an important part of the show. Jaime Sommers’ face adorned lunchboxes and she even became an action doll. To this day, the series has retained its popularity. In 2007, NBC reimagined the show with Michelle Ryan and Miguel Ferrer. It was cancelled after one season.
If you are interested in adding The Bionic Woman to your DVD collection, Universal released The Complete Series in 2015. As for Lindsay Wagner, currently, she and Lee Majors are filming a family movie on the west coast of Canada.