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Old December 4 2011, 11:43 AM   #16
Warped9
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

I think the original pilot is actually pretty good, but it does suffer just a bit because of age and contemporary expectations, and thats mostly in terms of action and certain limitations of the era in which it was made.
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Old December 4 2011, 06:26 PM   #17
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
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.
No, 6M$M was never part of a movie wheel. There were two additional made-for-TV movies, just standalones, done after the pilot, and then it became a weekly series. There were some other shows this was done with. The Incredible Hulk started out as two TV movies before it went to a weekly series, and Columbo started out as a TV-movie adaptation of the original play and then got a standalone TV movie as a "second pilot" (to see if the format could work more than once) before it became part of its mystery-movie wheel.

I think we've forgotten how common it was back then to have standalone original movies on network TV, since they're so rare these days except on cable. The "wheel" series were one way of doing them, but there were lots of original movies that were just aired by themselves, not part of any wheel.
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Old December 4 2011, 09:54 PM   #18
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
I think the original pilot is actually pretty good, but it does suffer just a bit because of age and contemporary expectations, and thats mostly in terms of action and certain limitations of the era in which it was made.
I'd have to watch it again to refresh my memory, but I'm thinking of stuff like awkward voice-overs and re-use of the same shot over and over. It just had that ambiance of a real cheapo production of the time.

Christopher wrote: View Post
No, 6M$M was never part of a movie wheel. There were two additional made-for-TV movies, just standalones, done after the pilot, and then it became a weekly series.
Hmm. Well, that would explain why I can't remember what it rotated with.
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Old December 5 2011, 06:20 AM   #19
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

Christopher wrote: View Post
No, 6M$M was never part of a movie wheel. There were two additional made-for-TV movies, just standalones, done after the pilot, and then it became a weekly series.
According to "The Bionic Book" by Herbie Pilato there were initially 6 SMDM movies commissioned that would air in rotation as part of "The ABC Suspense Movie". That sounds like a wheel to me. But whether ABC actually produced original series to fill the rest of the wheel or played straight movies, is the question. For what it's worth, the Wikipedia article on "ABC Suspense Movie" seems to suggest the other "spokes" of the wheel were simply telecasts of theatrical movies.

According to Pilato it was discovered fairly rapidly that the new format - of making SMDM into a Bond clone - wasn't working, so after only 2 of the films were made the decision was made to switch to a 60 minute weekly series and make many tweaks and refinements. And the instincts of the network were correct because the two movies tanked in the ratings apparently.

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
I think the original pilot is actually pretty good, but it does suffer just a bit because of age and contemporary expectations, and thats mostly in terms of action and certain limitations of the era in which it was made.
I'd have to watch it again to refresh my memory, but I'm thinking of stuff like awkward voice-overs and re-use of the same shot over and over. It just had that ambiance of a real cheapo production of the time.
You are thinking of the reedited syndicated version of the pilot, which was expanded to 2 hours by incorporating footage from later episodes. All 3 of the movies were butchered in this fashion. I say butchered because the Time Life complete series box set includes the syndicated versions of the three movies and they are awful, full stop. The only thing worthwhile about "The Moon and the Desert" - syndicated version of the first movie - is that someone at least had the brains to hire Martin Balsam to narrate the film as Rudy rather than breaking continuity by having Martin E Brooks do it. Even the much-maligned and criticized "Bond clone" movies are 100 times better in their original versions than the at times hilariously bad reedits of the syndicated versions.

Alex
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Old December 5 2011, 10:57 AM   #20
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

23skidoo wrote: View Post
According to "The Bionic Book" by Herbie Pilato there were initially 6 SMDM movies commissioned that would air in rotation as part of "The ABC Suspense Movie". That sounds like a wheel to me. But whether ABC actually produced original series to fill the rest of the wheel or played straight movies, is the question. For what it's worth, the Wikipedia article on "ABC Suspense Movie" seems to suggest the other "spokes" of the wheel were simply telecasts of theatrical movies.
Ah, so I'm not completely senile; that must be what I'm remembering. They were probably advertised and aired as such, even though it didn't work out.

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
I think the original pilot is actually pretty good, but it does suffer just a bit because of age and contemporary expectations, and thats mostly in terms of action and certain limitations of the era in which it was made.
I'd have to watch it again to refresh my memory, but I'm thinking of stuff like awkward voice-overs and re-use of the same shot over and over. It just had that ambiance of a real cheapo production of the time.
You are thinking of the reedited syndicated version of the pilot, which was expanded to 2 hours by incorporating footage from later episodes. All 3 of the movies were butchered in this fashion. I say butchered because the Time Life complete series box set includes the syndicated versions of the three movies and they are awful, full stop. The only thing worthwhile about "The Moon and the Desert" - syndicated version of the first movie - is that someone at least had the brains to hire Martin Balsam to narrate the film as Rudy rather than breaking continuity by having Martin E Brooks do it. Even the much-maligned and criticized "Bond clone" movies are 100 times better in their original versions than the at times hilariously bad reedits of the syndicated versions.

Alex
Very interesting. Thanks for that info. Is the real, original version available anywhere? It's a shame that the box set uses the re-edits.
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Old December 5 2011, 01:10 PM   #21
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Very interesting. Thanks for that info. Is the real, original version available anywhere? It's a shame that the box set uses the re-edits.
The version on the new Season 1 set does appear to be the original and doesn't include any spliced footage from later episodes.
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Old December 5 2011, 02:09 PM   #22
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

Skellington wrote: View Post
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.)
Kevin Smith? Does Steve make a lot of pee, poop and pot jokes and is Oscar a repressed homosexual comic book fan?
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Old December 5 2011, 02:49 PM   #23
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

23skidoo wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
No, 6M$M was never part of a movie wheel. There were two additional made-for-TV movies, just standalones, done after the pilot, and then it became a weekly series.
According to "The Bionic Book" by Herbie Pilato there were initially 6 SMDM movies commissioned that would air in rotation as part of "The ABC Suspense Movie". That sounds like a wheel to me.
"Commissioned" doesn't mean "made." Whatever their initial plans were, the fact is that there were only two TV movies aired on the ABC Suspense Movie, not six. The first aired on October 20, 1973 and the second on November 17, with the weekly series premiering 2 months later on January 18, 1974.

Like I said before, it's important to remember that weekly movie blocks were quite common on network TV in the '70s, and "wheels" like we're discussing here were just one kind of movie block. All the networks set aside regular time slots in which to show movies, but only a very few of those movie-of-the-week schedule blocks were done in the wheel format. Most were just potluck. Some of them might include the occasional recurring series along with all the standalones, but that didn't make them wheels.
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Old December 5 2011, 11:24 PM   #24
RJDiogenes
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

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RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
Very interesting. Thanks for that info. Is the real, original version available anywhere? It's a shame that the box set uses the re-edits.
The version on the new Season 1 set does appear to be the original and doesn't include any spliced footage from later episodes.
That's good to know. I'm thinking about getting it. I wouldn't necessarily want the whole series, but I might like to have the beginning and the end.
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Old December 6 2011, 07:38 AM   #25
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

The Solid Gold Kidnapping ***

Steve Austin races against time to find and rescue a kidnapped high level American official.

This was marginally better than Wine, Women And War though still not as good as the original pilot film. Once again we have something of a Bondian type story and with a similar feel and sensibility. The distinction is that this is better acted and the rest of the cast is more on par with Lee Majors. But I found much of the writing run-of-the-mill and predictable.

On the flip side I once again applaud the more realistic depiction of Austin's abilities with very low-key sound f/x.

It's interesting that after these two lacklustre TV films (after a respectable original pilot) that they decided to go ahead with a series. But I don't recall or have no knowledge of how these TV features were received back in the day.
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Old December 6 2011, 10:38 AM   #26
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

All I can say is that I and my friends loved them. But we were all in our early teens at the time.

I think this last one is the story where Steve rescues the guy by putting him in a wheelbarrow and wheels him out of danger at 60mph; then the guy asks if Steve has any "spare parts in black."
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Old December 6 2011, 02:10 PM   #27
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
The distinction is that this is better acted and the rest of the cast is more on par with Lee Majors.
Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Either that or the cast in the previous one must've been really bad.


It's interesting that after these two lacklustre TV films (after a respectable original pilot) that they decided to go ahead with a series. But I don't recall or have no knowledge of how these TV features were received back in the day.
As I said, the weekly series premiered only 2 months after the third movie, 3 months after the second. It takes longer than that to get a weekly TV drama/action series into production, so the decision to proceed with the weekly series must've been made before the movies were aired. Audience response wouldn't have been a factor. It must be that the network execs found the movies promising enough to give the series a go-ahead. Or maybe the ratings success of the original movie alone was enough to warrant a series, and the movies were just meant as a further introduction to bridge the 10-month gap between the first movie and the series.

Then again, the second and third movies were produced by Glen Larson (which would explain why they were lame) while the weekly series was produced by Harve Bennett. Maybe the network had enough faith in the concept (from the pilot's success) to realize that the weakness of the later movies was due to the producer instead, so they decided to give the franchise to someone they had more faith in. In fact, now that I mention that, it sounds familiar. I think I may have heard or read somewhere that Bennett was hired to "save" the 6M$M franchise much as he was later hired to "save" Star Trek.
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Old December 6 2011, 03:45 PM   #28
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Terrible, goofy show. Pure 70s.
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Old December 6 2011, 03:45 PM   #29
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
The distinction is that this is better acted and the rest of the cast is more on par with Lee Majors.
Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Either that or the cast in the previous one must've been really bad.
Consider Lee Majors was the only carryover from the original pilot. Gone were Martin Balsam and Darren McGavin. The new cast of Richard Anderson and whats-his-name (I can't recall the new actor playing Rudy Wells) seemed so flat and artificial. All the characters of the second feature came across as caricatures with little nuance or background to make them seem somewhat more fleshed out. Steve Austin played by the same character comes across as more three-dimensional because we already know his backstory and he's played by the same guy.

In the third feature Oscar Goldman and Rudy Wells come across better because they're given a bit more to do and the actors seem a little more comfortable in their roles. Goldman in particular starts to feel more fleshed out. The guest characters also seem better performed. It's hard to put your finger on any one thing, but a number of little things went to making the third feature more bearable to watch despite mediocre writing and a predictable plot.

Another strike against features 2 and 3 is the music. The theme song is horrible as is the closing credits theme. And some of the music throughout the features is so dated to the point of being annoying. Unlike much of Star Trek TOS' music it doesn't stand the test of time.
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Old December 6 2011, 04:51 PM   #30
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Re: Revisiting The Six-Million Dollar Man...

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Very interesting. Thanks for that info. Is the real, original version available anywhere? It's a shame that the box set uses the re-edits.
Apologies for any confusion - the versions of the movies in the Season 1 set that was just released are the original broadcast versions - the good ones. The reedits are included in an additional 5-disc set (which also includes the reunion TV movies) which is likely only going to be available as part of the mail-order Time-Life set (though I'm expecting the reunion movies to get some sort of release on their own as they did in the UK).

In terms of what seasons to get, you're pretty safe getting the first 3 seasons. Season 1 had a vitality to it as they were testing the show's sea legs. Two words to recommend Season 2: Jamie Sommers. Season 3 for the same reason, except moreso because she appears in a number of episodes, plus you get the introduction of Bigfoot and Stefanie Powers (famously a onetime candidate to play Jamie) as alien babe Shalon. As a fan of the series since it first aired as a weekly in 1974, Season 3 has, pound for pound, more of my favorite and well-remembered episodes.

Season 4 and 5 are starting to get into "fan only" territory. Season 4 had more Jamie crossovers, but it was also the season of "The Moustache" and the show started to falter. (If you want to avoid Season 4 altogether but want to see the Jamie episodes, they're all included in the Season 2 Bionic Woman set). By Season 5, the show was running on fumes. There were still some very good episodes, and I'm looking forward to seeing them (I'm intentionally going through my Time-Life set slowly because I don't want to end my fun too soon after a generation waiting for this thing to hit home video, so I'm only in early Season 4 right now), but the Bionic Woman had switched networks by this point so they weren't allowed to feature Jamie anymore. But Lee Majors did shave off his 'stache, so that's something.

The movies are a nostalgia trip, but weren't particularly very good, though they tried some interesting experiements. The first movie was clearly a pilot for Steve's now-bionic son Michael, but it's mostly interesting for a) having Steve do things with his bionics he'd never have been allowed to do in the original series, and b) featuring Martin Landau as a scenery-chewing villain - after having got stuck in this rut for the previous decade, very soon after making "Return of the SMDM and the BW" Landau experienced a career resurgence that climaxed with him getting the Oscar for Ed Wood a few years later. The second film was another pilot for a new Bionic Woman series starring Sandra Bullock. I'll let that sink in - and man she was hot in that movie. The last film was a straight-up reunion film and was more relaxed, and gave Jamie some kick-ass action along the way.

It's a shame some folks hate the show on the simple basis that it was made in the 1970s. I wonder if they ever watch TV shows just for the fun of it.

Alex
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