The Six Million Dollar Man-Season 1 (1974)
|Category||Action||Main Menu Audio & Animation|
|Year Of Production||1974|
|Running Time||911:52 (Case: 914)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||
Edward M. Abroms
Universal Pictures Home Video
Martin E. Brooks
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
“Steve Austin, Astronaut - a man barely alive. Gentlemen we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before…better…stronger…faster.”
Based on the 1972 novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, The Six Million Dollar Man was a flow-on series to Mission Impossible (1966-72). But instead of spotlighting high-tech weaponry and cool gadgets designed for use in clandestine government operations, the focus in The Six Million Dollar Man was on the superhuman capabilities of Steve Austin (Lee Majors), an astronaut who was badly injured in an experimental plane accident. Austin was "rebuilt" with enhanced cybernetic body parts and committed himself to serving as an agent for the United States Office of Scientific Information.
Under the watchful eye of the suave Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson), Austin was employed to undertake assignments that made full use of his superior powers. Over the course of 100 episodes (plus three movie-length pilots), the man with the zoom vision, speedy mechanical legs and strong right arm fought off a plethora of hapless criminals, aliens and megalomaniacs who threatened the safety and security of the good ol’ U.S. of A.
While most of the first season episodes play out like a typically fast-paced and imaginative James Bond-esque action thriller, during its five season run the plot lines broadened to include the hunky alpha male being confronted by some interesting characters and caught up in a series of outlandish situations. Scenarios included Austin having a Herculean showdown with an evil Seven Million Dollar Man; finding cyborg-romance with the bionic woman, Jaimie Sommers (Lindsay Wagner); befriending Bigfoot; helping out a stranded alien (played by Meg Foster); and having fatherly feelings towards a Bionic Boy, who received new legs to replace his paralyzed ones.
Interestingly, the footage of the aircraft shown crashing during the opening credits was taken from a real incident that occurred on May 10, 1967 at Edwards Air Force base, California. Test pilot, Bruce Peterson, was flying an M2-F2 “lifting-body” aircraft when it went into a “Dutch roll” and careened out of control when he tried to land. Peterson recovered from his injuries, but later lost vision in his right eye due to a staph infection he contracted while in hospital. He is reported to have enjoyed the series, but understandably disliked watching the crash sequence at the beginning of each episode.
This set contains the entire 13 episodes from Season One. The first three two-part episodes were produced as feature-length pilots. They were later re-edited, had additional footage inserted and aired a few months before the pilot proper - Population Zero. A brief synopsis for each is as follows:
The Moon and the Desert – Part I (45:43)
The Moon and the Desert – Part II (47:04)
This rather downbeat two-parter chronicles the crash and then reconstruction of the near-mortally wounded Steve Austin. He not only has to recover from the physical trauma of his accident, but also come to terms with the psychological implications of receiving a new left eye, which comes complete with zoom lens and night vision, two bionic legs that allow him to run at 60 mph and swim up to 35 knots, and a bionic right arm that can crush steel and lift a truck.
Wine, Women and War – Part I (47:01)
Wine, Women and War – Part II (46:55)
Steve must stop the oil-rich sheik and dictator Arlen Findletter (Eric Braeden) from selling a missile of mass destruction and a hi-tech U.S. submarine to the highest bidder.
Guest stars include the stunning Britt Ekland (Man with the Golden Gun, 1974) as Russian agent Katrina Volana and her Bolshevik partner, David McCallum (Invisible Man series, 1975) as Alexi Kaslov.
The Solid Gold Kidnapping – Part I (47:02)
The Solid Gold Kidnapping – Part II (47:07)
An American ambassador is being held for ransom within the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple. It’s up to Steve Austin to rescue the ambassador and bring the culprits to justice before they take another diplomat hostage.
Keen-eyed Bewitched fans will recognise David White, who played Darrin’s boss Larry Tate, as the kidnapped Ambassador Scott.
Population Zero (48:50)
A disgruntled ex-government scientist wipes out a small town with a deadly virus. When the scientist demands $10m or he will destroy the population of another town, Steve is given the assignment to capture him before he acts out his threat.
Survival of the Fittest (48:40)
Oscar is intimidated by conspirators while attempting to negotiate a deal with Russian diplomats. The warnings become all too real when the plane Oscar and Steve are traveling in crashes and the conspirators try and murder them both.
Operation Firefly (47:41)
When the inventor of a portable laser projector is kidnapped, Steve uses the assistance of the scientist’s psychic daughter to track him down.
Day of the Robot (48:47)
Attempting to gain access to a new anti-missile device, enemy agents abduct a scientist and replace him with a robot clone. It’s up to Steve to expose the imposter and discover the whereabouts of the real scientist.
Little Orphan Airplane (48:25)
The United Nations Treaty is under threat when Steve is sent to locate and rescue a pilot shot down by conspirators.
Doomsday, and Counting (48:18)
In a race against time, Steve must avert a catastrophe after an earthquake buries a Russian Colonel beneath the rubble of a nuclear weapons plant.
Eyewitness to Murder (48:16)
Following an attempt on the life of a witness during the trial of a high profile member of the mafia, Steve has to use his bionic powers to stop the mob from getting a second chance.
The Rescue of Athena One (48:16)
Steve is rocketed into space to rescue two astronauts trapped inside a malfunctioning space craft.
Dr. Wells is Missing (48:48)
When bionic engineer Dr Rudy Wells is kidnapped by an international ring of conspirators, Steve has to rescue him before Dr Wells is forced into building the criminals their own bionic man.
The Last of the Fourth of Julys (48:41)
Steve is called in to foil the attempts of a terrorist, who has already tried to assassinate a delegation of prime ministers at an international meeting in Paris.
Burning Bright (48:56)
After being exposed to high levels of electrical activity during a space mission, an astronaut colleague of Steve’s develops strange mental abilities which allow him to communicate with dolphins.
Fans of the original Star Trek series will get a kick out of seeing William Shatner emote his way through this episode.
The Coward (48:46)
After an earthquake in the Himalayas exposes a crashed airplane containing top secret documents, Steve is sent to recover them before they fall into enemy hands.
Run, Steve, Run (48:15)
Desiring to create a cabal of cyborg criminals, an international crime syndicate kidnap Steve to learn more about his bionic engineering.
The Six Million Dollar Man – Season One is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.29:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.
The source prints used are really showing their age, and unfortunately there has been very little done to clean them up. Film artefacts abound, with dirt, fine hair-line scratches and speckling a distracting concern. Not surprisingly, the artefacts are much worse in the stock footage.
There is a slight softness and some lo-fi grain evident throughout each episode. The grain becomes quite bad during the abundance of scenes where aircraft in flight, control room and NASA stock footage is used.
Black levels are solid and deep with no low level noise problems detected. Shadow detail clarity is generally fine, but sometimes images can become a little murky during low-lit or night-time sequences.
Some instances of noise reduction crop up episodically when a door, scaffolding, or large packing crates appear to move when they should be static.
Colours were generally bright, but occasionally looked a little washed-out.
The layer changes are wisely placed between episodes, so there were no pauses during play.
The English-only Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix is satisfactory.
However, there appears to be an audio glitch in the opening episode, The Moon and the Desert – Part 1. Up until 29:53, the sound is flat, distant and tinny. Beyond this point, the sound becomes markedly improved, with a fuller, more upfront output. I didn’t detect this audio problem in any of the other episodes.
The frantically paced theme tune and its dramatic variations come through loud and clear without any distortion. Along with the irritating use of slow motion visuals to demonstrate when Steve is using his bionic powers, the accompanying rapid electronic pulse effects render these sequences amusingly cheap and dated.
Dialogue is clear and easily understood. But, I did notice two instances of lip sync problems in the Wine, Women and War – Part 1 episode. The first occurred at 12:59 and the second at 18:35.
Being a mono mix, the surrounds and subwoofer are silent.
|Surround Channel Use|
Not one bionic limb.
Surely there’s an abundance of material locked away in the Universal vaults. Perhaps the later season sets will make up for the lack of bonus features.
Sound bites from the main theme tune. Each disc has a static background menu with animated scenes from each episode playing out in small windowboxes at the right side of the screen.
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Currently not available in Region 1. The Region 2 (UK) edition is identical to our own, so go for the cheapest option.
Although the transfers for each episode could have done with a digital spit-and-polish, and some bonus features would have been appreciated, The Six Million Dollar Man is still a welcome DVD release for the legion of fans who were captivated by its imaginative storylines and action-laden savior faire.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|