The Six Million Dollar Man/The Bionic Woman
The tale of Colonel Steve Austin
was introduced in Martin Caidin's book "Cyborg" published in 1972. This told the
tragic story of a man horrifically injured in an accident and
resurrected through machine and electronics technology. Few know
of this novel but many fondly recall the series it spawned, The Six
Million Dollar Man.
Col. Steve Austin first came into contact with Oscar Goldman after a failed test flight that resulted in a crash in which Steve was badly injured. Barely alive, Steve was rebuilt, his torn and burned flesh replaced with cybernetic replacements, including an eye that could see better than any could, legs that could run faster than any man could run, and a bionic arm of incredible strength. Recruited by fate, Steve became a core defender of the American way of life.
In mid-70s television, such a defender was badly needed. Enemies were everywhere. Throughout the series, Steve not only defeated earthly elements but actually went on to fight otherworldly invaders, including their robotic minions haunting the woods in the form of Bigfoot. Sometimes unbelievable and often downright silly, the Six Million Dollar man was a series with a lot of fun and a lot of adventure. The show enjoyed guest appearances from some of the top personalities of the age.
In 1975, the network executives decided that Steve needed a steady love interest. Since the show was a huge success, they developed plans to branch out the franchise by adding a second key bionic character. Steve fell in love with Jamie Somers (Lindsey Wagner), who was as passionately in love with Steve. Yet, as soon as they introduced Jamie, in a turn worthy of any Greek tragedy, they took her away. Jamie was badly injured in a sky diving accident, and was rushed to become the next test subject of Oscar Goldman's cyborg project. Yet, medical science could only repair part of her damage, Her head injury gave her partial memory loss. She awoke unaware of much of her past and her love for Steve.
She was free to launch on her
own series. The Bionic Woman continued the exploits of the Cyborg
project and allowed for crossover stories with Steve and Jamie
occasionally teaming up to defeat television villains.
Soon, practically everyone
became bionic. In the second season, Steve was confronted with the Seven
Million Dollar Man, a stronger bionic convert who lacked Steve's good
judgment and ultimately turned into an opponent. Steve defeated this
adversary despite being physically weaker and a million dollars cheaper.
Later, a bionic dog named Max was brought into the storyline along with
the bionic boy, Andy Sheffield (Vincent Van Patten). Had the series
continued, the executives planned to have Steve aided by a bionic girl
In 1987, Steve and Jamie returned in The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman. This telemovie was successful enough to spawn a second telemovie, Bionic Showdown (1989) and a third, Bionic Ever After (1994).
Trivia: The opening sequence of The Six Million Dollar Man included several long seconds of an actual, horrific crash of an experimental jet; this was the accident that caused Col. Austin his severe injuries. In actual fact (or at least according to rumor), the pilot walked away from that crash.