Yeah, I know, everything probably thinks it was a campy little show, but The Six Million Dollar Man was actually a pretty good sci-fi/action program. Back in the day, at least in the seventies when I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of TV super-heroes, and Steve Austin was the closest around until Spider-Man and the Hulk got their own shows.
I think everyone knows the story: Steve Austin, “a man barely alive” after a test piloting accident, is rebuilt to be the world’s first bionic man. He helps out Oscar Goldman at the OSI, with various secret missions that border from James Bond to Allan Quartermain. Lee Majors starred as Steve, in a role that normally would’ve typecast someone forever, but he managed to avoid it in the same way Bill Shatner did with TJ Hooker. As with a lot of seventies TV stars, I think you pretty much get Lee Majors as Lee Majors, which isn’t a bad thing.
The six discs of this DVD set contain the three pilot movies-of-the-week that spawned the production, as well as the entire first season of thirteen episodes. Guest stars include William Shatner, John Saxon, Gary Lockwood, Henry Jones, George Takei, George Montgomery,Noah Beery (right before The Rockford Files), Farrah Fawcett (right before becoming Mrs. Lee Majors), Don Porter, and many more.
The stories are actually pretty good, given the limitations of TV and the need for the special effects. One thing you’ll immediately notice is that the familiar hollow da-da-da-da-da sound effect for Steve’s bionics is missing from these shows; I had not realized that it wasn’t added to the aural repertoire until second season. It shows up a few times being used by other characters, like John Saxon’s robot double, but it’s really the only annoying thing about the shows themselves. The episodes are all solid adventure tales. I do have to say that the second TV movie veers a bit too far into James Bond territory, at least in my opinion, making Steve Austin too much of a cardboard cut-out. Also, the final episode of the season, “Run, Steve, Run” is, for the most part, a cost-cutting flashback episode, but still has a decent half-hour of original story.
The sixth disc is a bonus with several interviews, including a nice one with the late Harv Bennett, and a segment on the creation of the main title and opening of the show, which rivals nearly any show out there for “most memorable”.
If you want the Steve Austin you remember as a kid, you’ll probably want to start with the Season 2 set (which I start watching tomorrow). If you simply love the Six Million Dollar Man as a series, then by all means start with this set!