Archive for Six Million Dollar Man

Bionic Review: The Six Million Dollar Man Season 1 – Part 1

Posted in pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review

SMDM Book

Okay, it’s time to start reviewing regular season episodes of the show. I’ll group episodes in the same way they are presented on the DVDs. So here are the first four episodes of Season 1 from The Six Million Dollar Man.

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Episode 1 – Population Zero

Special guests: Don Porter (Gidget)

Synopsis:  In this episode Steve and Oscar investigate the seeming death of an entire town. After arriving Steve uses his actual moon walking space suit as a rudimentary Haz-Mat suit to investigate the town. A disgruntled scientist contacts Oscar to claim credit for the town and promises to strike again if not paid $10 million.  Steve sets out to find out who the guy is and how to stop him.

Bionics: We see a lot of good bionic slow motion running in this episode, but no “bionic sound”.  Not sure when that particular sound effect will start showing up.  When Steve is running, the sound is silent except for the sound of a beating heart.  In the episode conclusion, Steve rips a metal fence post out of the ground (including the cemented base, see pic above) and hurls it javelin-style through a truck killing all the bad guys.  Probably one of the more bad ass things Austin has done and we are only in episode 1.  We also learn in this episode that deep cold will hinder the performance of Steve’s bionics.

Notes: This is the first episode of the weekly series. We finally get the regular series opening with the famous tag line “Better, stronger, faster…”.  The music has a very “X-Files” feel to it which is interesting because the entire opening feels like an episode of that show.  It seems almost EVERYONE already knows about Steve’s bionics. Why do they bother keeping it a secret?  Apparently Steve lived 20 miles from the afflicted town in this episode and knows everyone in the town by name.

Review:  This was a very good episode.  Steve and Oscar work well together, the story was good.  The villain, played by Don Porter is fun.  The perfect setup for a weekly series.

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Episode 2 – Survival of the Fittest

Special guests: Joanne Worley (Rowen & Martin’s Laugh-In)

Synopsis:  During important negotiations with Russian officials, Oscar’s life is threatened by individuals wanting to make sure those negotiations fail. When the plane that Steve and Oscar are flying in crashes, Steve must protect Oscar when it becomes clear that someone else on the flight is not who they appear to be.

Bionics: In the opening, Steve uses his bionics to remove lug nuts from a flat tire in one of the more “real world” applications of his abilities we’ve seen.  Another instance, after the plane has crash landed, has Steve karate chopping a coconut in two.  It’s not immediately clear whether he uses his bionics for this.  Steve saves Oscar from getting bitten by a snake by bionically  running up to the snake, grabbing it and hurling it into a rock wall, straight up murdering the snake.  Without prejudice.  Late in the episode we see Steve’s bionic “night vision” for the first time.

Notes: While on the plane, the in flight meal is delivered in really nice lunch boxes.  Oh the golden age of commercial air flight.  The plane’s engine catches on fire and the pilots immediately DROP IT OFF THE PLANE. Is that standard procedure?  While crash landed on the island, someone jury rigs the CB radio and attempts communication.  On what power source is that radio running?  And why is no one taking off their uniforms, jackets or ties?  It looks pretty hot on that island.  Apparently this episode was remade as Fly Jaime for The Bionic Woman series.

Review: This is also a pretty good episode.  Lee Majors is likable and fun.  We get some pretty awesome bionic action and there’s a nice reveal at the end.  I thoroughly enjoyed this episode.  Except for Joanne Worley.  I mean REALLY?

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6 undeveloped movie scripts that were turned into comic books

Posted in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Batman, Bionic Man, comic books, Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th, Jason Vorhees, movies, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2013 by Paxton

Cavalcade Comics

This week the topic for The League is “comic books”. Yep, just “comic books”. I recently did an article about comic book covers that homage famous movie posters, so that idea was already burned. Fortunately, my draft articles are deep with ideas so I pulled this one out of the depths and fleshed it out a bit.

I love movies.  I love comic books.  I love comic book movies.  We have tons of movies coming out BASED on comics books.  But how about comic books based on movies?  There are plenty of those as well.  But what about comic books that are based on movies that never were made for whatever reason.  Ahhh, that could be interesting.

Today, I’m going to talk about six undeveloped movie scripts that were turned into comic books.

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Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet – These first two entries are probably the most high profile examples of unused movie scripts becoming a comic book.  In 2004, Smith wrote a screenplay for a new film version of The Green Hornet.  Much like the next script in this list, it was a reboot of the characters and the concept.  Smith even announced that he intended to direct the feature as well.  The project, however, died after the poor box office of Smith’s Jersey Girl.  Dynamite Comics purchased the unused script and had Kevin Smith adapt it into a new Green Hornet comic series.

Kevin Smith's Bionic Man
Kevin Smith’s Bionic Man (2011) – I talked about this series in my Bionic Reviews feature a month or so ago.  Kevin Smith wrote a screenplay for a new Bionic Man movie back in the 90s. It was a reboot of the characters and concept of the Six Million Dollar Man TV series.  It ultimately went unused.  However, after the success of Smith’s Green Hornet title they asked if he had any other unused scripts to adapt.  Smith pulled out the Bionic Man script and Dynamite loved the idea.  They tapped Phil Hester to adapt the screenplay into a 10 issue story arc to launch a new Bionic Man comic series that is still being published to this day.  It has also spawned a Bionic Woman comic series.

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Frank Miller’s Robocop (2003) – During initial production of Robocop 2, there was a first draft script by one of the original Robocop screenwriters, Edward Neumeier. However, due to a writers strike he dropped out. One of the producers contacted Frank Miller to write the script as Miller was still riding the success of his Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. Miller wrote a draft that producers and studio executives labeled “unfilmable” and the studio had the script rewritten into what eventually became Robocop 2, the movie.  In the early 2000s Avatar Press acquired the Robocop comic license and the publisher William Christensen, who owned a copy of Miller’s “lost” original screenplay, contacted Miller about adapting it into a comic story.  Miller was enthusiastic and worked with Steven Grant to adapt his unused screenplay (which included notes for Robocop 3) into a story.  Due to scheduling conflicts, Miller was only able to contribute some of the covers and not actually write or draw the interiors.  The nine issue adaptation was published in late 2003.

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Bionic Review: Dynamite Comics’ The Bionic Man (2011)

Posted in Bionic Man, comic books, movies, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review

SMDM Book

Richard Anderson, the man who played Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man TV series tried for years to get a Bionic Man movie off the ground.  Many different writers took a stab at a script.  In the mid-90s, Kevin Smith famously wrote a script for a Bionic Man movie that was a reboot of the TV series.  I was very excited about this prospect as, at the time, I was a big fan of Kevin Smith and loved the idea of him re-imagining the Steve Austin universe (of which I was a big fan). Unfortunately, nothing ever happened on that project.  It just disappeared.  Then, in March 2011, Kevin Smith announced that his unproduced script would be re-adapted into a comic book series for Dynamite comics.  The comic’s script would be written by Phil Hester and be based on Smith’s movie script.  The book’s interiors would be drawn by Jonathan Lau, it would have Alex Ross variant covers and the name would be Kevin Smith’s The Bionic Man.  The first issue would be released in August 2011.

Kevin Smith's Bionic Man 1 Kevin Smith's Bionic Man 4

Up to this point I have read the first 14 issues of Dynamite’s The Bionic Man. The first 10 issues contain the story arc that is taken directly from Kevin Smith’s unproduced script.

Essential Plot:  It starts off very similar to the original TV show/novel.  The events have been updated a bit and a few things changed.  We actually start off, not with Steve Austin, but with a break in at a government laboratory.  An unknown assailant kills all the scientists and steals what looks like a bionic arm.  Then we cut to Steve Austin at home.  He’s still a test pilot.  He’s engaged to Jaime Sommers.  Austin is about to retire as a test pilot and marry Jaime.  He just has one more test flight to make.  And what happens is exactly what you expect.  Something goes wrong with the flight, Austin crashes and loses both of his legs, his right arm and his left eye.  In this story he’s good friends with a younger version of Oscar Goldman.  They convince Steve to become a part of their bionics experiment, so the government pronounces him dead and begin the operations to graft on the bionic limbs.  There are several issues devoted to Steve’s recovery and coming to grips with the fact that he’s now part machine.  In issue #7 Jaime returns as Steve unexpectedly finds himself at her house and reveals to her that he’s not, in fact, dead.  In this issue we also discover that the earlier mysterious assailant from issue #1 has ties to Austin and the bionic program, so the rest of the story arc is discovering information about this assailant and Steve going after him to put a stop to his plans.

The next issue after the Smith arc, #11, was a standalone issue.  Steve goes back to his parents’ ranch for some soul searching.  We meet his parents and see that his father is dying.

Issue #12 begins the first new wholly original story arc.  It’s written by Phil Hester and Aaron Gillespie and drawn by Ed Tadeo.  This story introduces the fan favorite bionic Bigfoot from the TV show into the new bionic universe.  Austin discovers some unscrupulous people are attaching bionic parts to Bigfoot creatures so he teams up with one of them to help.

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Bionic Review: Cyborg IV by Martin Caidin (1975)

Posted in Bionic Man, books, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review

SMDM Book

Martin Caidin wrote his fourth and final Steve Austin novel in 1975. It was called Cyborg IV.

Cyborg IV Cyborg IV

By this point, Caidin’s character had spun off into the famous Six Million Dollar Man TV show.  However, Caidin continued his novels as if the TV show didn’t exist.  The continuity within the novels did not overlap with the show.  Despite this fact, this particular book was included as #6 in the Six Million Dollar Man book series.  Which is confusing (is it Book #6 or Book #4?).  The Six Million Dollar Man book series were paperback translations of episodes of the TV show in which authors like Mike Jahn and Jay Barbree novelized episodes like Pilot Error, Rescue of Athena One and Solid Gold Kidnapping.  Caidin’s third Cyborg novel, High Crystal, was also confusingly included in this series.  The first two Cyborg books were not included.

For this last novel, Caidin takes the idea of “man working in tandem with machines” to a new level.  Steve is introduced to a new project within the Army in which an advanced fighter jet/spaceship is directly connected to a human pilot so that ship and man are one and the same. This setup requires that the human pilot have interface ports surgically added to his body, but since Steve already has most of that done, Oscar thinks he’s the perfect test pilot for the project.

The idea that Caidin introduces here is pretty cool.  When directly connected to the ship, Steve would “feel” and “see” what happens to that ship as if it were a part of his body.  Instead of having gauges and digital readouts tell him about the telemetry of the ship, it would be fed directly into his body and he’d know it just as he knows that it’s cold outside or that he’s hungry.  It’s a pretty crazy idea and for some reason it immediately made me think of the Clint Eastwood movie Firefox.  And the first time they test Steve and the plane, they have to dial back the connection to 30%, otherwise, Austin may lose all of his individual identity and become “one” with the ship.  The way it’s written in the book is actually pretty cool.

The problem?  Caidin is his own worst enemy.  We spend the first 1/3-2/3 of the book learning about the project and then training Steve on the equipment.  The final action of the book is really just the very first outer space flight test for the plane/cyborg hybrid.  There is a small conflict with the Russians in that they are destroying US spy satellites, but other than that, the book is just training and a few test flights of the new ship.  And the book essentially just ends not giving you any indication about the future of the project or where Steve will go next.

So, again, I’m a little frustrated reading these Caidin Cyborg books because the author has really good ideas but the written execution of the novel is seriously lacking.  And considering the books are short, (< 200pgs) Caidin still manages to drone on WAY too long about the most mundane things.  So while I’d recommend this more than Operation Nuke it’s not as good as High Crystal or the original Cybog novel.

Bionic Review: The Solid Gold Kidnapping (1973)

Posted in movies, pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review
SMDM Movies

The third and final TV movie starring Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man was called The Solid Gold Kidnapping and aired on Nov 17, 1973.

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Like Bond movies and the previous TV movie, this movie begins with Austin on an assignment.  He’s in Mexico rescuing a US Ambassador from some revolutionaries in the mountains.  After Austin successfully resuces the Ambassador, we meet the sinister group known as “The Company”.  It’s an organization similar to Bond’s SPECTRE.  They, unfortunately, would make no more appearances outside of this movie.  The Company kidnaps international negotiator William Henry Cameron and demands $1 billion for his return.  OSI and Oscar team up Steve Austin with Dr Erica Bergner to rescue him.  Dr Bergner’s specialty is the brain and she’s developed a procedure to transplant brain cells from one patient to another with the result being that the transplantee gains the transplanter’s memories.  So Bergner takes the brain cells from a captured henchman of The Company and transplants them into her brain.  She uses this henchman’s memories to help Steve find their headquarters.

Silly?  Yes, it is.  But they treat it fairly good in that she can’t just pluck whatever information she wants from the new memories.  Her brain needs time to adjust and process the new information.  She is constantly having random memories that aren’t her own and has to make sense of them before they mean anything.  I sort of liked that even if I thought the procedure was a bit hokey.

Overall, however, this final TV movie wasn’t the greatest.  I’m surprised that with the upcoming release of the first episode of the series, that these last two movies still hadn’t really nailed the “look and feel” of the series yet.  They really aren’t my favorites.  I’m also surprised that neither of these two TV movies adapted the second book in Caidin’s Cyborg series.  Well, I am and am not surprised because that second book is not very good.  It would have had to have been re-written.  But the third book, High Crystal, was excellent, however it wasn’t released until the following year in 1974.  But Caidin should have had most of the story, they could have used that.  Interestingly, the early Mexico scenes of The Solid Gold Kidnapping do actually echo the setting of that third Cyborg book.

But I honestly can’t recommend these movies to anyone but hardcore bionic fans.  We still don’t get any of the signature bionic sounds, so watching Steve do these feats with no audio cue is still a little weird.