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Warped9 December 3 2011 06:47 AM

Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
It's been thirty years since I've watched The Six-Million Dollar Man. I used to quite like the show, particularly the early seasons. I also have fond memories of the original novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin that inspired the series.

Recently the first season became available separately as a season set on DVD. Previously the series was only available as a box set and was rather pricey. A few days ago I ordered the Season 1 set from Amazon and it arrived this afternoon.

This evening I just watched the first pilot film... :techman:

This closely parallels the original novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin. I'm sure there are some finer points where it diverges, but I haven't read the novel since the '70s so I can't recall exactly where it diverges. I do recall that in the novel Steve Austin could only run about twenty-five m.p.h. while in the pilot and series he can reach sixty m.p.h. I also recall that the novel covers more of his training with his bionics.

That said the pilot film is well written, well cast and well performed by Lee Majors, Martin Balsam and Darren McGavin. McGavin is particularly interesting as OSO Director Spencer, a toned down s.o.b. who spearheads Steve Austin's rebuilding so to speak. Good stuff.

The action is low-key by today's standards, but I rather like the more realistic approach to Austin's abilities without overdone visual and audio f/x. The only real nitpick I have with this is the sometimes obtrusive music, but it's only occasional.

Looking at the pilot alone it's easy to see how this could be updated and made to work today. I would hope they would have a similar approach and tone to the story overall and the characters. And it would be a piece-of-cake for them to depict Austin's capabilities today and make it look convincing.

I'm looking forward to the next episodes. :techman:

Gary Mitchell December 3 2011 06:54 AM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
I'm looking forward to your reviews. I haven't seen the show in at least 20 years but I can't afford the dvds.

Silvercrest December 3 2011 08:55 AM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Same here. But I do have the novel. In terms of his bionics, the major differences were: 1) it was his left arm instead of his right, 2) he was permanently blind in his eye, but they installed a little camera in it, and 3) he couldn't run faster than before, but he could run LONG distances without tiring. This was partly because his legs didn't get tired (of course!), and partly because his heart and lungs were supplying a reduced volume of tissue, so he had an abundance of oxygen. Never out of breath.

Warped9 December 3 2011 12:36 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Quote:

Bah Humbug wrote: (Post 5381739)
I'm looking forward to your reviews. I haven't seen the show in at least 20 years but I can't afford the dvds.

The previous boxed sets were indeed pricey, but the present Season 1 set is only $27.99 US on Amazon.

Wereghost December 3 2011 01:02 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
On a related note, Steve Austin has recently returned in comic-book form. Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man is four issues old and so far has proven a thoroughly entertaining update, IMO. Hollywood could do a lot worse than use this as source material for the proposed movie.

(Edit: According to Wikipedia's Six Million Dollar Man entry, the Smith comic is based on a rejected screenplay for a proposed 1990s movie. That figures.)

The Badger December 3 2011 02:51 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Quote:

Silvercrest wrote: (Post 5381814)
... 3) he couldn't run faster than before, but he could run LONG distances without tiring...

As I recall he could run faster, beating the world and Olympics sprinting records, over short distances. As you say he could also keep on running over long distances at a steady speed (somewhere between 6-8 mph, I think) for as long as he was awake.

I also liked the little 'add ons' he was fitted with in the book. When infiltrating a sub base via the sea, for example, he had compressed air tanks built into his legs, and fold out flippers in his feet, in case anything happened to his scuba gear. There was also a curare tipped dart gun built into his hand.

Captaindemotion December 3 2011 05:05 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
There was another interesting thread about TSMDM earlier this year or last year, which 23Skiddoo posted when he bought the DVDs.

I haven't seen the show in years and would like to see it again. I remember it best for my Steve Austin action figure which I had as a kid!

FreezeC77 December 3 2011 05:30 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Wasn't there an episode where he fought bigfoot?

RandyS December 3 2011 05:55 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Quote:

FreezeC77 wrote: (Post 5382123)
Wasn't there an episode where he fought bigfoot?

Two of them. Both are two parters. The second one is a crossover with The Bionic Woman.

I guess I'm one of the lucky fans who has owned the complete series set that came out last year (a gift from my girlfriend who knows what a Bionic superfan I am).

I also recently re-watched the Cyborg movie (as opposed to the 2 part Moon and the Desert expanded re-edit which I actually prefer) and was confused by one thing. As Warped9 says, Darren McGavin played OSI director Spencer in the film, but in the novel, Oscar Goldman was that character. Anybody know why the producers rewrote that only to have Richard Anderson play Oscar in the sequels? Why not just have McGavin play Oscar? Why create a new character? After all, Rudy Wells was recast twice.

davejames December 3 2011 07:37 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Quote:

Warped9 wrote: (Post 5381737)

The action is low-key by today's standards, but I rather like the more realistic approach to Austin's abilities without overdone visual and audio f/x. The only real nitpick I have with this is the sometimes obtrusive music, but it's only occasional.

It's funny, after all these years I still find the slow-motion running of SMDM to be more thrilling and believable than any of those CG "super speed" effects I've seen on shows like The Flash or Smallville.

It's just a lot easier to suspend my disbelief when I'm looking at a real person doing those things.

Christopher December 3 2011 10:00 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Quote:

davejames wrote: (Post 5382324)
It's funny, after all these years I still find the slow-motion running of SMDM to be more thrilling and believable than any of those CG "super speed" effects I've seen on shows like The Flash or Smallville.

I'm not sure the FX on The Flash were CGI. It was a little early for that. More like video compositing of live-action elements, 2D video animation for the blur effects, and a lot of old-fashioned stagecraft and camera tricks. Basically the same level of FX technology you would've seen on ST:TNG (in fact the show's FX supervisor David Stipes was a TNG veteran).

Bob Morton December 3 2011 10:21 PM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
When I rewatched the first season recently, I was astounded that the "bionic sound" was used so sparingly. It's definitely pumped up more as the series progresses.

Also, concerning the realistic fast running, I really liked the effect they used in the recent Bionic Woman.

Gojira December 4 2011 05:12 AM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
This was a favorite of mine as a kid. Haven't watched it in years myself. I will have to see if Netflix has it.

Warped9 December 4 2011 07:02 AM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
Wine, Women And War **

Steve Austin must stymie the plans of an arms merchant.

In context of when it was made I'd give the first pilot a 5/5, but in context of today in retrospect I'd give it a 4/5. The second film though really suffers and thats why I give it a 2/5.

I really don't recall this film and very little of it seems familiar except for the awful theme song and less-than-inspired music. I still applaud the more realistic depiction of Austin's abilities as well as the low-key sound f/x. And there are actually a few decent moments in the film.

But overall this suffers from trying to be something of a half-hearted imitation of a Bond film in Americanized form---and it falls flat. Additionally Lee Majors is the only one in the entire thing giving a decent performance. Britt Eklund, Eric Braedon, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman and David McCallum are all caricatures. Anderson's Oscar Goldman is nowhere near as interesting nor does he have the presence of Darrin McGavin's character of OSO Director Spencer in the pilot film. And the new Rudy Wells can't hold a candle to Martin Balsam's portrayal.

What it comes down to is polish and execution. The first pilot, with a little tweaking and money, could have been a feature film. The second pilot is so obviously a cheap TV knockoff.

RJDiogenes December 4 2011 11:35 AM

Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...
 
After the pilot, Six-Million-Dollar Man started as one of those rotating movie features that were popular for a while in those days (e.g. Columbo and McCloud). I forget who he rotated with, though.

The early episodes were indeed very Bondian, and that was one of my favorite periods of the show. My other favorite period was toward the end when it was really off the wall, with space aliens and so forth. Both approaches worked well as far as I was concerned (although, for my taste, I would have preferred they be done with two separate characters).

It's been a long time since I've seen the pilot, but I actually remember it being pretty badly directed and edited; my impression at the time was that it was kind of amateurish.


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