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The Six Million Dollar Man
Volume 3
cast: Lee Majors, Richard Anderson

directors: Barry Crane, Richard Moder, and Leslie Martinson

144 minutes (PG) 1975-76
Universal Playback DVD Regions 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Donald Morefield
This was a well received TV sci-fi show when it began in 1974, with a number of memorably entertaining stories about cyborg hero Steve Austin (Lee Majors), a NASA astronaut who almost died when his experimental plane (in retrospect, this was obviously an early version of the space shuttle) crashes, leaving him in need of expensive surgery, as per the title. In return for his services as a special agent for the government, Steve gets nuclear-powered legs, and a right arm, plus a hi-tech optical implant. Among the series' trademarks, later often spoofed by TV comedy sketches, were the slo-mo scenes intended to signify the hero running at 60 mph, and curious sound effects whenever a bionic stunt (like extraordinary 'kangaroo' jumps onto rooftops - achieved by running the film backwards) occurs.
   Steve's heroic adventures involved everything from espionage, crime fighting, rescue missions, scientific investigation, and personal dramas. He battled robots, went into space, defeated terrorists, tracked down Bigfoot, met alien visitors, and saved the world. The Six Million Dollar Man was just as massively successful an American export as the wonder technology that created its cyborg superman but, as usual with genre TV, the plots became sillier as time went on - and so, as the quality of life support was failing week by week, they reluctantly pulled the plug.
   Although this DVD is the third to be released, its episodes are all from season three, so I have no idea what sort of running order they are using as a guide here. Hocus-Pocus gets our bionic man into showbiz, when he poses as a conjuror for a stage magic show, with psychic college student Audrey (Robbie Lee), whose mind reading act helps Steve locate and retrieve a stolen book of security codes. In The Price Of Liberty, a disgruntled scientist hijacks the famed Liberty Bell, and then threatens to destroy it. Guest star, Chuck Connors, plays a convict released from prison to help defuse the bomb. Pick of the bunch is The Bionic Criminal, which sees the return of Barney Hiller, a crippled racing driver previously introduced in episode The Seven Million Dollar Man (not on this disc), where he was rebuilt as the superhuman rival to our lower priced hero. Enthusiastically played by Monte Markham, Hiller gets his bionics reactivated for this story (which, intriguingly, uses SF ideas later explored in films like The Universal Soldier), only to embark on a robbery spree, planned by an ambitious crook (Donald Moffat) that kidnaps Hiller's wife. Check out Hiller - the human forklift truck, as he single-handedly tips over an armoured car, and rips open a bank vault, before Steve arrives in time for the enjoyably daft, bionic tag-team finale.
   The complete lack of DVD extras is a surprise, because there's plenty of stuff available on the Internet, including speculations about the movie remake as 'the Six Billion Dollar Man', and one suggesting that 'the Bionic Man versus RoboCop' would make a superior adventure.