1/07/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Universal FHED2686. 94 minute DVD. Price: £ 6.99 (UK) if you know where to look)stars: Lee Majors, Lindsay Wager, Richard Anderson, Tom Schanley, Martin E. Brooks, Lee Majors II, Martin Landau and Gary Lockwood.
check out website: www.universal-playback.com
I don't think I would be far wrong in saying that 'Return Of The Six Million Dollar Man And The Bionic Woman' was probably the first 'Return Of' 90 minute TV movies looking at where popular characters from popular shows were a decade or so down the line after their original series were cancelled and see if there was life in the idea to continue with new characters. Considering that both of these shows were intertwined, it made sense to re-combine them together.
For Steve Austin (actor Lee Majors) it was retirement after being fed up being shot at all the time and part-owner of a rental small schooner. Must make a note that OSI pay or retirement dues aren't particularly big if it could only run to being part-owner. Doing this, Austin also kept his old life at a distance. Well, apart from one detail. Prior to becoming bionic and still in the Air Force, he had a brief marriage and a son, Michael (actor Tom Schanley). His wife had died of pneumonia and his son raised by her sister. Now the son is in the USAF and on the point of graduating.
Jaime Sommers (actress Lindsay Wagner) is no longer on active OSI duty having survived a bomb blast doing an assignment a retired Austin had turned down and unknown to him, got her old memories back. She got on with her life, rehabitating people and a bit puzzled why her old boy-friend never looked her up.
Fortress, an old organisation that both of them were responsible for folding, has reawaken and eager to capture them both and failing and Oscar Goldman (actor Richard Anderson) unsuccessfully attempts to get them both working on the case even then. Events take a turn for the worse when Austin's son is severely injured in a plane crash. Austin is prepared to bargain to go on the mission for his son to be made bionic but Goldman has already got Rudy Wells (actor Martin E. Brooks) on the case. It is Jaime Sommers who will do most of the therapy in getting the son to cope with his new limbs especially as he's much faster than his father and has a limited laser capacity added to his new eye. When the son is kidnapped by Fortress, unable to resist because of a hostage, Austin and Sommers join forces for the rescue.
I've left certain elements out of this so not to spoil too much. For the record, Lee Majors' son is not playing his screen son but an OSI officer. Interestingly, the box credits don't even acknowledge Richard Anderson unless it was confusing him with Martin E. Brooks by creating 'Richard Brooks'. Now that's careless. Then again, they didn't know how many 'm's to put in 'Sommers' as well.
In many respects, there is too much sentimentalism in the first hour. Not that there shouldn't be some time to let the actors act but it made it very low pitched that you end up dying for some action to be sustained. The finale does make up for that even if it is very much a team effort.
Some of the logic doesn't make much sense. Fortress kidnap Rudy Wells before Austin's son so why interrogate the latter for the bionic specs when they have the main man himself. Then again, too many people are also in the know that Austin and Sommers are bionic as well.
Equally, it also set a trend for disillusioned heroes having to be brought back to work here and in other 'Return Of' TV movies which seems a little at odds with their professional ethic in the original series. Surely there must be other reasons for retirement, even if it's simply age.
What is most remarkable that this TV film managed to generate two sequels and because a certain aspiring actress called Sandra Bullock is in the next is probably explaining why these are being released ahead of the last three seasons of 'The Six Million Dollar Man' and the last season of 'The Bionic Woman' although European releases of each are actually in the works. Universal have said that they aren't releasing these seasons on the American or British market through lack of sales of the earlier seasons. If they are using the lack of sales of this one to prove a point then buy this one and its two sequels, assuming they'll release them, and prove them wrong. It might not be the best of the latter TV films but we might get response for the earlier seasons.
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