Although it is officially released today (Nov. 23), those of us who pre-ordered the Six Million Dollar Man set from Time-Life got a bonus because it began shipping a couple of weeks early. I was like a kid again when it arrived, because I'm not kidding that ever since my dad brought home my family's first VCR back in April of 1982 I've been waiting for ol' Six Mil to come out. Up till now all I'd seen was a long-out-of-print VHS release of the Bionic Woman two-parter. And, of course, the SMDM bonus episodes on last month's Season 1 release of Bionic Woman. So far I've only had time to watch (read: devour) the three pilot movies and the first regular episode, and a bunch of the documentaries, and it's been a blast. The TV movies aren't SMDM at their best - the first pilot is a deadly serious, very interesting account of how Steve Austin became bionic and is pretty heavy on the psychology and light on the action (which is fine). The other two pre-series movies were botched attempts at retconning Steve to be a superpowered James Bond. Some things once seen cannot be unseen, and the sight of Steve Austin in a white plaid (!!!!) tuxedo is one of them. Still, they were interesting experiments and you can tell they were just that - experiments (overseen, it's worth noting, by BSG creator Glen Larson, with the pilot movie ghostwritten by Steven Botchko, later the creator of NYPD Blue). In the DVD set, Harve Bennett, who took over as produced from Larson, is credited with saving both SMDM and the Star Trek film series. The documentaries are basically the various actors and writers discussing the show and their characters. Fortunately, the "quad" of Lee Majors, Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson and Martin E Brooks were all involved (unlike so many other TV shows, including classic Doctor Who, in which the lead actors are often not available), and you learn a lot of cool stuff. For example - and those who are fans of SMDM and BW and who tire of the whole "cheesy slow motion" dismissal the shows often get from people can use this in defence - Harve Bennett says the whole slo-mo thing was inspired by the NFL Films organization, who used slo-mo to express power in the athletes. Lee Majors remarks that it was also necessary because showing Steve running at full speed often had a "Keystone Cops" effect that looked silly (this is evident in a few early episodes, though the famous "fence run" from the pilot and the opening credits is still quite effective taken by itself). With 40 DVDs and 100 episodes to mull through (including the 1990s reunion movies and the Bionic Woman crossovers) it'll take me a while to get through this. But it'll be fun, I think. From a Trek perspective, I've got guest appearances by Shatner and Takei to look forward to, not to mention the Bionic Woman crossovers, Bigfoot, Death Probe, Farrah Fawcett (Mrs. Fawcett-Majors at this time) playing an astronaut and showing how much of the "airheadedness" of Charlies Angels was an act. And of course we can't forget the bionic Sandra Bullock in one of her first major acting jobs. A quick note about the packaging - they did a great job. Often box sets are, shall I say it, a bit weak in this area. I've had boxes fall apart, while other sets require you to clear off a table to "decanter" the DVDs (culprits include the Blade Runner briefcase, whose handle has already fallen off, and the Time Life Man from UNCLE briefcase, which has held together better, but you still have to unload a bunch of things before you can get to the discs). In contrast, the SMDM box is solid (as proven by the fact it came through standard Canada Post in a shipping box I wouldn't have used, completely unscathed), and the season sets are easy to access (and the sound chip that activates is cool). Time-Life I think did the show justice. The only complaint I have is there was no real reason why The Bionic Woman had to be released separately. The special features on the BW set were shot at the same time by the same crew (some of the comments are recycled in the SMDM set), there's a profile of Lindsay Wagner in the SMDM set that should have been in the BW set. And the reunion movies affect both. I think they could have done well rounding the price off at the next hundred and including three more sets of discs so we got the entire bionic franchise. But this is just a minor thing - fortunately the powers that be did include the three complete crossover storylines (part one on SMDM, part two on BW) etc. so you don't need the BW sets to see the whole tale (and it appears likely the same will happen with Seasons 2 and 3 of BW appear next year). The price of the set didn't bug me ($239 Canadian, plus tax), because divide that over 5 box sets of about a half-dozen discs each, plus a 5-disc bonus features chaser, and it comes out more or less the same as buying the sets individually in the stores, but with a keeper box as an extra (and there's an installment option). I've waited 28 years for this, so I think it was worth the investment. With the mercury stuck around the -30 C mark this week, I'll have plenty of time! Alex PS. For the benefit of anyone who didn't see the earlier threads on this: no, this won't be on anything like Netflix for a while. Until next fall it's a mail-order-only exclusive from Time Life. I saw one review stating retail release is expected in October 2011 which is probably when Netflix will get it too. There is no guarantee the bonus discs will be made available at that time, though.