Although it didn’t get much fanfare, after years of fans waiting, and without even reruns to watch on Nick at Nite, The Six Million Dollar Man was released on DVD by Time -Life video last winter. Part of the lack of attention is because of its price tag: $349.99 retail, and it has yet to be issued at true bargain pricing. But if you watch for deal on eBay or Amazon it may be found for a lower price.
The Six Million Dollar Man, beyond its 1970s clothes, is surprisingly not as dated as one might think, compared to other genre series of the past. In fact, it is not much different than watching reruns of Quantum Leap or The A-Team, and has the feel of shows like Quincy M.E. One of our favorite borgs, Steve Austin and his adventures will be fun to get through with all 100 remastered episodes. With the resurgence of interest in the Bionic Man, via the failed remake of The Bionic Woman a few years back and the new Bionic Man comic book reviewed here earlier, isn’t it time to get caught up on this classic sci-fi series?
The Six Million Dollar Man The Complete Series is as comprehensive as any series release. It includes all three pilots, all three reunion movies, all crossover episodes with Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman, 17 feature shorts, audio commentaries, and all five seasons (1974-1978), uncut. It also comes with a slick case that plays the famous intro bionic sounds and voiceover intro and music and includes a lenticular photo of Steve Austin running in slow motion. It’s a great set and if you were only a kid when the series originally aired it will be like watching it for the first time. One warning, the classic lengthy introduction everyone thinks of when you think of The Six Million Dollar Man did not air in the first season. Instead, a really, really dated, somewhat cheesy intro song was featured. A good reason to use the fast forward on the remote!
The first episodes to watch are obviously the pilots, which play well in each variation, including an early version with Martin Balsam (Twilight Zone, Psycho) as the original doctor that gave Steve Austin his bionics and Darren McGavin (The X-Files, A Christmas Story, KolchakL The Night Stalker) as Oliver Spencer, an early Oscar Goldman.
Next you’ll probably skip to the Bionic Woman crossovers, where you’ll remember why everyone loved Lindsay Wagner in this role. She was probably the first modern, tough, strong, independent female lead in a sci-fi series. And if you ignore Lee Majors singing over their early scenes together the two make a believable TV duo that is fun to watch.
Some trivia about the series:
The Bionic Man appeared at one time or another on all three major networks.
Harve Bennett, who produced Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, was the voice at the beginning of each episode from Season 2 onward that said “Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive.”
In addition to Martin Balsam and Darren McGavin, actors and actresses you probably don’t remember appearing on The Six Million Dollar Man include:
- John de Lancie (Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation), as an Air Force medic in five episodes
- Farrah Fawcett (Charlie’s Angels), as Major Kelly Wood, in four episodes
- John Saxon, as Major Sloan in two episodes (Maskatron)
- Malachi Throne (Senator Pardek in Star Trek: The Next Generation “Unification” and Commodore Jose Mendez, Star Trek “The Menagerie”), as Joseph Ronaugh in two episodes
- Andre the Giant (The Princess Bride) as Bigfoot in two episodes
- Ted Cassidy (Lurch, from The Addams Family) as Bigfoot in two episodes
- Donald Moffat (Logan’s Run, The Thing, The Right Stuff, Clear and Present Danger, HouseSitter) as Dr. Martin Davis in two episodes
- Robert Loggia (Men of a Certain Age, Independence Day, Necessary Roughness, Big, Opportunity Knocks) as Hendricks in two episodes
- Jenny Agutter (Logan’s Run) as Dr. Leah Russell in two episodes
- Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat in Deep Space Nine) as Williams in two episodes
- Robert Walker, Jr. (Charlie X in Star Trek) as Bell in two episodes
- Gary Lockwood (Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell in Star Trek, and 2001: A Space Odyssey) played John Praiser in two episodes and the Return of the Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man movie
- William Campbell (Trelane and Koloth in Star Trek) as General Forest in the Return of… movie
- Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Cohaagen in the new 2012 remake of Total Recall) as Dr. Shepherd in the Return of… movie
- Sandra Bullock (Demolition Man, Speed) as Kate Mason, bionic girl in the Bionic Showdown movie
- Sonny Bono (singer), Larry Csonka (Miami Dolphins/NY Giants fullback) and Cathy Rigby (Olympic gymnast) also made appearances on the series
Because of the Time-Life release, as opposed to a standard boxed set through normal retailers, look around for a discounted version of this DVD set. Copies for $270 are currently available at Amazon.com and we’ve seen used copies sell as low as $150 on eBay.