Retro-Musings: “The Bionic Woman” (1976-1978) was a giant leap for women in action/sci-fi…


Jaime adjusts to life as a school teacher in “Welcome Home, Jaime” Part 1. This is where she famously tears a thick phonebook in half. Oh, and to those of you who don’t know what a phonebook is? Google it…

During the heyday of ABC-TV’s cyborg-action series “The Six Million Dollar Man” (1973-1978), a spinoff was created in 1976 centered around bionic astronaut Steve Austin’s childhood sweetheart, Jaime Sommers; a tennis pro who is badly injured in a skydiving accident (both legs, right arm and right ear critically damaged) with Steve during their renewed courtship, resulting in her becoming “The Bionic Woman” (1976-1978). “The Bionic Woman”as overseen by talented, groundbreaking TV writer/producer Kenneth Johnson (“The Incredible Hulk” “V”), with memorable music by Joe Hartnell (who went on to compose the haunting “Lonely Man” theme for Johnson’s “The Incredible Hulk”) and Jerry Fielding (“The Wild Bunch”). 

Note: Hartnell’s opening theme for “The Bionic Woman” is quite different from Oliver Nelson’s more adrenaline-pumping opening titles of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Hartnell’s theme is adventurous (plenty of brass, sound effects), yet not-unfeminine, either, with light jazz piano and strings. 

It was clear that “Six Million Dollar Man” guest star Lindsay Wagner needed her own spinoff, despite her character’s inconvenient demise. Her chemistry with Lee Majors was palpable.

From her first episode on “The Six Million Dollar Man,” it was clear that star Lindsay Wagner had great chemistry with costars Lee Majors and Richard Anderson (“Oscar Goldman”). In her second episode, Jaime suffered painful bionic rejection and ‘died.’  Her later resurrection was explained away with a “flash-freezing” process (aka cryogenics) used to keep her alive after her apparent death (“The Return of the Bionic Woman, Parts 1 and 2”).  Once recovered, the amnesiac Jaime’s location at an OSI facility was kept quiet for fear that her recovered memory might permanently traumatize her (OSI is the Office of Scientific Investigations; the franchise’s fictional government agency that’s one-third NASA, two-thirds CIA). 

Note: As with the parent show, you have to ignore most laws of physics for bionics to ‘work’; one mechanical arm lifting a car ignores laws of leverage, for example, while two heavy atomic-powered legs wouldn’t make someone faster, either (let alone jump over a tall fence).  Only Jaime’s bionic hearing makes any kind of sense, as it suggests a very powerful, imbedded hearing aid of some kind.

Future married couple Steve Austin (Lee Majors) and Jaime Sommers say goodbye for now… or at least until the next two to three-part crossover of their respective shows. Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) is in the background.

This top-secret return of Jaime Sommers was kept from her former fiancé Steve Austin, which caused the anguished bionic astronaut considerable grief later on.  Once Jamie recovered, and her memory was (safely) restored, the former pro tennis star went to work as a school teacher on an Air Force base near her hometown of Ojai, California (a real town, incidentally), where she lived in a spacious attic loft above her adopted parents (Steve’s mother and stepdad).  As part of the price for her bionic resurrection, a grateful Jaime made herself available to OSI chief Oscar Goldman and pioneering bionics scientist Dr. Rudy Wells (Martin E. Brooks) for occasional classified government operations.  These ‘occasional’ assignments quickly became her life

Steve, Jaime and Dr. Rudy Wells (Martin E. Brooks) examined a deadly but deactivated fembot in “Kill Oscar”; a three part crossover event between “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman.”

The stories in the show’s first year were typically spy capers, top-secret government rescues, acts of sabotage/espionage, and even an animal rights story (“Claws”).  There were also many crossovers with its parent series, “The Six Million Dollar Man,” which created a shared bionic universe (take that, Marvel). Jaime even got to tangle with Bigfoot. Having switched broadcast networks from ABC to NBC in the the show’s final year, crossovers between “The Bionic Woman” and “The Six Million Dollar Man” were no longer possible (adieu, Sasquatch). The series had to rely on broader sci-fi/fantasy/occult concepts for ratings’ sake, but to no avail.  Later episodes would begin a slow slide towards mysticism, pyramid power, space aliens and  even astral projection. In earlier episodes, such concepts were usually debunked—in later episodes, they were played straight

“On The Run” is the series finale which also functions as a meta-explanation of why series star Lindsay Wagner chose to leave the series at the end of its three-year run.

After three years of slo-mo running and later chasing after her bionic dog, Max, star Lindsay Wagner wanted out. Not ungrateful for the series and the Emmy award it afforded her, Wagner’s exit left a door open for Jaime Sommers’ future return in a trio of Bionic TV movie sequels, which aired from 1987 through 1994. The once-promising, exceptionally well-acted “Bionic Woman” was cancelled in 1978, the same year as its parent series, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”  The following are a few of my personal favorites from the show, as well as a few cheesy, goofy honorable mentions.

Season 1 Favorites:

Jaime catches up with an old nemesis (Dennis Patrick); a sleazy wealthy industrialist who makes her a shady offer, much to his idealistic son’s dismay in “Welcome Home, Jaime” Part 2.

“Welcome Home Jaime,” Parts 1 & 2 sees a recovering Jamie returning to Ojai, California to accept a teaching job at an Air Force base, while adjusting to her new life as a part-time super-agent.  We even get to meet some of the kids in Jaime’s classroom. More earthy and grounded than most action series, the first official episodes of the show also see Jaime getting into the spy game after various attempts are made on her life by an old nemesis (Dennis Patrick).

Jaime comes to the aid of a beloved school bus driver (Donald O’Connor) on the run from the mob in “Things of the Past.”
Gotta love Jaime’s 1970s Datsun 280Z sports car–not too flashy for a school teacher, either.

“Thing of the Past” focuses almost entirely on Jamie’s teaching gig, as she learns that a kindly, beloved bus driver (Donald O’Connor) shuttling her kids on a class field trip is an incognito witness to a mob killing who is trying to live down his shady past—which catches up to him, of course. Much of the story focuses on Jaime’s life as an Ojai schoolteacher. Sadly, this side of Jaime’s double-life is largely lost as the series progresses. 

Barbara Rush guest star as a woman who appears to be Jaime’s dead mother, returned from the grave…

“Jaime’s Mother” is another deeply human story that only peripherally involves super-agent shenanigans. Orphan Jaime sees a woman (Barbara Rush) at the local cemetery who looks very much like her dead mother—only to learn that their ‘chance encounter’ was entirely by design. The compassionate resolution to this story is just one of the ways this series sets itself apart from its more macho predecessor. 

Jamie meets her future OSI beau Chris (Christopher Stone) in “Fly Jaime.”

“Fly Jaime” sees Jaime acting as an airline flight attendant while trying to keep her OSI friend and doctor Rudy Wells safe, along with Rudy’s top-secret formula for cobalt-247.  The “Six Million Dollar Man” did a very similar marooned-on-a-desert island story (“Survival of the Fittest”), but it’s great fun to see Jaime keeping her bionic superpowers a secret from the passengers while pretending to be little more than a good flight attendant. Jaime also meets her future beau, Chris (Christopher Stone), one of several boyfriends of hers we see on the show.

Note: Wagner would later play heroic, real-life German flight attendant Eli Derickson in the 1988 TV-movie “The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story.”

Jaime learns the that her bionic limbs don’t tan like the rest of her body in “Mirror Image”; the first of a three-part arc featuring Jaime’s doppelgänger, Lisa Galloway.

“Mirror Image” is the first of an arc involving a criminal named Lisa Galloway, who’s surgically altered to resemble Jaime, but who is unaware of Jaime’s special bionic abilities. While this first episode of a three-part arc (ending in season 2) is the least dramatic, it sets the table for its far more effective concluding acts.  

Note: Actor (and episode costar) Herb Jefferson Jr. (1978’s “Battlestar Galactica”) recently spoke to me about the stunt-work he performed in this episode at the recent WonderCon in Anaheim

Honorable-ish Mentions:

Jaime sings the hideous and inexplicably popular 1970s pop-tune “Feelings” in “Bionic Beauty.”

“Bionic Beauty” features Jaime in a beauty pageant to stop the illicit sale of a microchip (as you do), where she gets to sing the ‘70s soft-pop hit, “Feelings” (to her credit, Wagner really can sing, but the song is just lousy).  Sadly, the notion of educator/secret-agent Jaime forced to pose in beauty pageants speaks to the state of sexism on TV in the 1970s.

“Ghosthunter” is a bionic updating of “The Turning of the Screw,” with some spooky spectral shenanigans involving a ghost-hunting widower who’s unwittingly neglecting his tween daughter (Kristy McNichol), whom OSI assistant Jaime befriends. Funny how no one seems to see ghosts anymore, now that everyone has a digital camera on their phones…

Season 2 Favorites:

Actor Ted Cassidy as the shaggy alien robot “Bigfoot” with one of his rogue alien masters (John Saxon) in “The Return of Bigfoot.”

“Return of Bigfoot” Part 2 is the second part of several “Six Million Dollar Man” crossover specials while the two series still shared a network (ABC).  Bigfoot is back, but is now played by the late, great Ted Cassidy (“Lurch” on “The Addams Family”).  In the second of two parts, Jaime learns that the shaggy alien robot is evolving into consciousness.  The Bigfoot episodes are always great fun, despite their inherent silliness—or perhaps because of it.  The late John Saxon also costars.

The fembots were some serious nightmare fuel in 1977, and were clearly inspired by 1973’s “Westworld,” which featured renegade robots killing amusement park guests. The influential Michael Crichton movie also inspired the 4 season 2016 HBO series.

“Kill Oscar” Parts 1, 3 is another crossover event, which introduces another piece of fondly-remembered bionic lore (and future “Austin Powers” punchline); the fembots. The second part of this three-part crossover sees Jaime shattering her bionic legs during an exceptionally high jump onto concrete, while escaping a deadly fembot attack (leaving her sidelined for Part 2). While the exposed mechanical faces of the fembots are cheesy-looking today, they were quite terrifying to young kids in 1976.  

Series semi-regular Jennifer Darling, who plays Oscar’s secretary and Jaime’s bestie Callahan, is given a rare chance to play Callahan’s fembot doppelgänger in “Kill Oscar” Part 2.

Note: Series semi-regular Jennifer Darling, who plays Oscar’s sweetly-neurotic secretary and Jaime’s bestie, Peggy Callahan, is given a nicely nasty dual role as the fembot imposter of her character. 

Jaime befriends a hearing-impaired young woman (Jamie Smith-Jackson) who is able to resist “The Vega Influence.”

“The Vega Influence” is a genuinely creepy sci-fi thriller featuring a remote US Air Base whose personnel are slowly disappearing, one by one, only to return as zombified, meat-puppet slaves of a rocky, disembodied alien intelligence. Jaime befriends a hearing-impaired serviceperson’s daughter (Jamie Smith-Jackson) living on the base, whose condition blocks the alien signal’s controlling influence.

Jaime takes on a deadly, HAL-9000 wannabe supercomputer in “Doomsday Is Tomorrow” Part 2.

“Doomsday Is Tomorrow,” Parts 1, 2 sees the world given an ultimatum to disarm by a dying pacifist scientist (Lew Ayres), whose deadly supercomputer ALEX 7000 (voice of Guerin Barry) takes up his late creator’s mission of destroying the world when a rogue nuclear power refuses to comply. Jaime is pushed to her physical and emotional limits trying to outwit the clever computer, which is a transparent ‘homage’ to (or ripoff of) HAL-9000 (“2001: A Space Odyssey”).  Despite the shamelessly borrowed villainy, this two-parter is perhaps the ultimate test of Jaime’s resourcefulness. 

A drugged and incapacitated Jaime is unable to prove her true identity in “Deadly Ringer Part 1.”

“Deadly Ringer” Parts 1, 2 sees the return of Jaime’s criminal doppelgänger Lisa Galloway, who is freed from prison by corrupt guards, with Jaime kidnapped and left in Lisa’s place.  Lisa is secretly using a poisonous super-drug to emulate Jaime’s super-strength, but it’s slowly killing her.  Caught in the ultimate identity crisis, Jaime hits rock bottom as she’s forced to prove herself to disbelieving authorities, even her mentor and father-figure, Oscar Goldman. The ending sees Jaime talking Lisa down, and ultimately befriending her jealous nemesis.  

Note: Lindsay Wagner gives a series-best performance in this episode, as both a distraught Jamie and the drug-addicted Lisa. 

Honorable-ish Mentions: 

“Black Magic” is a silly, circus fortune-teller tale with a campy cast that includes Julie Newmar and Vincent Price. The colorful, larger-than-life guest stars make the episode. 

Jaime picks up a new habit in “Sister Jaime.” Think “Sister Act” but played somewhat straight.

“Sister Jaime” sees undercover nun Jamie helping to rid a convent’s prized winery of an inside drug smuggling ring. Predates 1992’s nun-comedy “Sister Act” by almost two decades. 

“Biofeedback” sees Jaime teaming up with an astro-projectionist named Darwin Jones (Granville Van Dusen) who can leave his body at will—a silly gimmick the series would revisit in season 3’s “Out of Body,” but with a terribly clichéd Native American-perspective.

Season 3 Favorites:

“Max” (aka “Max a-million”; the price of his bionics), is the guest star of “The Bionic Dog.”

“The Bionic Dog” Parts 1, 2 sees Jaime stumbling across the very first recipient of Rudy Wells’ bionics; a depressed German Shepherd named Max (short for Max-a-million; the dog’s cost in bionics), who is earmarked for destruction as a ‘failed experiment’.  Feeling a natural empathy with the cyborg canine, Jaime frees the dog (against Rudy and Oscar’s wishes) and tries to prove the pooch is still worthy—which she does, after Max saves Jaime and her beau Chris (Christopher Stone) from a raging forest fire. 

Note: Much like her former (and future) fiancé Steve Austin, Jaime is also seen having a healthy collection of boyfriends during the series. This is nice to see, and it’s in-keeping with the show’s many other demonstrations of equality. All of this was rare for TV in the 1970s, where single women characters usually fell into unsubtle, madonna-whore tropes; for example, we never saw any of the Charlie’s Angels on a date.

Jaime’s worst nightmare comes true as she’s surrounded by deadly fembots in “Fembots in Las Vegas” Part 2.

“Fembots in Las Vegas” Parts 1, 2 brings the fembots’ return. The series most popular villains (the Borg of this series) cause Jaime to experience (understandable) moments of PTSD at the prospect of having to face these nearly unstoppable robots, who nearly killed Jaime in their last encounter.  Callahan is similarly disturbed, especially after her deactivated fembot doppelgänger from the previous story is reactivated. The heavy action quotient of the story is nicely balanced in the fist half as Oscar takes Jaime for a night on the town in Vegas before they get to the mission at hand. 

Note: The paternal warmth that series costar Richard Anderson felt for Wagner radiates right off the screen.  Anderson himself once told me (when I met him in 2012; see below) that he just adored Wagner. While some might cringe when Oscar Goldman refers to Jaime as “babe” multiple times during the series, it’s more in the context of a loving paternal figure, not as a creepy predator. 

Jaime gets a rinse and perm from her friend Callahan’s ridiculously suspicious new beau in “Brain Wash”…

“Brain Wash” sees Callahan’s suspicious new hairdresser boyfriend John (Michael Callan) using a mind-controlling shampoo to force Callahan into revealing OSI secrets, which he intends to sell to the highest bidder.  This is an absolutely inane premise that is salvaged by the very real emotional sparks produced when a jealous Callahan fires back at Jaime’s accusations of John. Something similar happened to Callahan before, in “The Six Million Dollar Man” (“The Winning Smile”). Actress Jennifer Darling (whose unique voice led to a prolific voice-acting career) gives her all in this episode. 

Future Oscar-winner Helen Hunt is an alien princess escaping her planet’s “Star Wars” with an evil galactic empire (cough cough)

“Sanctuary Earth” is another utterly ridiculous premise buoyed by Lindsay Wagner and a very young, future Oscar-winning Helen Hunt, who plays a stranded alien princess who hitches a ride on a US satellite in an effort to outrun twin alien bounty hunters from her home star system.  Hunt’s planet is in the grip of a galactic war, and her planet’s enemies hope to capture the princess.  However, the two terminator-like bad guys don’t count on Jaime opening a can of bionic whoop-ass, which delays their attempted capture of the space princess just long enough for the war to abruptly end (convenient).  What sounds like an episode of Disney’s “The Mandalorian” (with Jaime as Mando) feels more like a missing sequel to Disney’s “Witch Mountain” movies instead.

Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) tells Jaime she needs to flee as the authorities close in, but not before he gives her a heartfelt hug in “On The Run”; a terrific series finale written by future “Die Hard” scribe Steven E. de Souza.

“On The Run” is a series best. Very consciously designed as a series finale, something rarely afforded most cancelled US TV shows in those days. Written by future “Die Hard” screenwriter Steven E. de Souza in collaboration with Wagner herself, the result is a very meta story which sees Jaime growing increasingly tired of being identified as “the robot lady,” and questioning her own humanity (this was something seen in Martin Caiden’s original “Cyborg” novel as well, with a newly-bionic Steve wondering how much of his humanity remained).  In her wish to resign from the OSI and return to teaching full-time, Jaime is mortified to learn that she is considered ‘government property’ because of her bionics.  This forces her to flee.  Ultimately, Jaime turns herself in, but conditionally—she will only do future missions at her discretion; a condition the sympathetic Oscar Goldman readily agrees to.  This ending leaves the character of Jaime Sommers alive and well for future sequels and spinoffs. 

Honorable-ish Mentions: 

Jaime takes a ride with no less than Evel Knievel himself in the utterly nonsensical “Motorcycle Boogie.”

“Motorcycle Boogie” sees a truly clueless Jaime unwittingly teaming up with motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel in an utterly silly East-Germany caper.  Full disclosure: I had that Evel Knievel windup motorcycle toy as a kid, and I loved that stupid thing, I won’t lie…

Lucky Dog.
Jamie is reunited with her bionic German Shepherd “Max” in a backdoor pilot that failed.

“Max” is a backdoor pilot for a potential Bionic Dog spinoff, which would’ve seen Max adopted by an OSI scientist and her orphaned nephew, played by “The Brady Bunch” costar Christopher Knight.  As with several episodes of the third season, Jaime is hospitalized for a bionic tuneup, keeping her out of the action for the most part.

“The Martians Are Coming…” sees Jaime foil a fake flying saucer in a bizarre, overly-convoluted hologram-UFO scheme hatched by a rogue veteran OSI agent and his wife, who are simply out to make a quick buck by selling secrets.

Jaime and her sometimes beau Chris (Christopher Stone) meet a wise alien sage (Eduard Franz) living deep under Los Angeles (of course) in “Pyramid”; one of the series’ later more overtly sci-fi (and absolutely silly) offerings.

“The Pyramid” sees Jaime and her sometimes beau, Chris (Christopher Stone), discovering a pyramidal, subterranean alien base deep under an LA warehouse—think “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” but lobotomized.  

Bionic TV-Movie Sequels

Dr. Rudy Wells (Martin E Brooks) helps a young Sandra Bullock during her bionic growing pains in “Bionic Showdown” (1989).

Three sequel TV-movies featured both the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. The first of the three was 1987’s “The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman.”  The second was 1989’s “Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman,” which also saw the emergence of a young Sandra Bullock as a next-gen bionic woman in another backdoor pilot that went nowhere.  

Steve and Jaime finally put a ring on it, as a beaming Oscar looks on, in 1994’s “Bionic Ever After.”

Jaime and Steve would (finally) tie the knot in the final moments of 1994’s “Bionic Ever After.”  After Steve and Jaime’s wedding, the sun had officially set on the original bionic TV saga, which began with 1973’s pilot of “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

2007 Remake: “We can rebuild her.…sorta.”

The rebooted “Bionic Woman” starred Michelle Ryan, with Katee Sackhoff as “Sarah Corvus” (a villain similar to Steve Austin’s bionic nemesis, Barney Hiller, in “The Seven Million Dollar Man”).  One of the show’s biggest missteps right out of the gate was in not casting Sackhoff as Jaime Sommers, as she was so perfectly suited for the role (see: “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Mandalorian”).  Instead of a bionic dog for a sidekick, this Jaime Sommers had a teenaged kid sister (Lucy Hale) who gave orphan Jaime many of the same headaches as a young single mother. 

We can rebuild her; we can make her more…edgy.
Michelle Ryan (an otherwise fine British actress) is the new, though not improved 2007 model of Bionic Woman.

Producer David Eick (“Battlestar Galactica”) tried to impart the darker, ‘edgier’ vibe of his successful “Battlestar Galactica” remake, but it simply doesn’t work here.  The end result feels like a poor man’s “The Matrix,” with rainy rooftop battles, lots of bullet-time swiveling and an absolute dearth of likable characters (the new Oscar Goldman, played by the late Miguel Ferrer, is a complete d!ck). The remake is as much a time capsule of early 2000s TV as the original show was of the 1970s, but it lacks the simplicity and heart to connect with future generations, as the original still does today.  The reboot was mercifully cancelled before the end of its first season. 

Seeing Stars

While I never actually met star Lindsay Wagner, I did take a candid pic of her once, at San Diego Comic Con 2008, and she looked terrific. If she ever comes back to the convention, I hope to meet her. Sadly, I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Bionic Woman” back in my youth, but I’ve come to appreciate it since, based largely on the strength of her Emmy-winning performance. 

Bionic-Comic Cons.
Left to Right: My pic of Richard Anderson, taken at San Diego Comic Con 2012 and my candid of Lindsay Wagner, taken at San Diego Comic Con 2008.

I once had the good fortune to met and chat with “Six Million Dollar Man” costar Richard Anderson (1926-2017) at San Diego Comic Con 2012, when he came to a table where I was sitting and we enjoyed a lovely 40-odd minute conversation about all manner of things; the state of modern medicine, war, his career (“Forbidden Planet,” “Seconds,”), you name it—I tried really hard not to geek out.  The gracious and gentlemanly Anderson also told me that he was a passionate advocate for his beloved costar Lindsay Wagner to gain her own spinoff, after the smash ratings success in her two-part “Six Million Dollar Man” episode, “The Bionic Woman,” Parts 1 and 2.  Shortly before Anderson’s celebrity handler returned to take him to his next event, I asked him what he thought of Comic Con San Diego, and he told me “If they could have one of these in every city of the world, there’d be no wars.”  I will never forget our delightful conversation together, and it remains one of my favorite convention memories ever.

More Than the Sum of Her Parts

The 1970s saw a significant rise in women-led action roles in crime dramas such as “Police Woman,” “Get Christie Love” (a milestone for women and Black representation), and, of course, “Charlies Angels” (which was one step forward, two backward; with a heavy reliance on the ‘jiggle factor’). However, “The Bionic Woman” was groundbreaking in that a seemingly ordinary woman schoolteacher from Ojai, California was leading a sci-fi action series.  Mind you, this was three years before Sigourney Weaver’s “Ripley” in “ALIEN” (or even Erin Gray’s Col Wilma Deering in “Buck Rogers”).

“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy…”
Jaime practices her best T.J. Hooker car-riding technique in “Jaime’s Shield” Parts 1 and 2.

For all its faults, “The Bionic Woman” featured a consistent believability and sincerity from its (deservedly) Emmy-winning star, Lindsay Wagner, for whom I developed a great admiration during this rewatch.  While the often-silly stories dealt with such absurdities as astral projection, Bigfoot, pyramid power and teenaged space princesses, they were told with a sincerity and an almost ad-libbed spontaneity from Wagner that helped sell many of the show’s more ridiculous ideas. 

Jaime dons a shockingly stereotypical South American persona, while actress Lindsay Wagner’s future ex-husband (Henry Kingi) plays a threatening brute in the otherwise forgettable “Rancho Outcast”; a series low point.

It’s easy to see why star Lindsay Wagner wanted out after three years (the final episode, “On The Run,” is something of a confessional), but in those three seasons, the series and its star made a significant stride for women-led sci-fi/action; something that has evolved over time to become downright commonplace today (“Xena,” “Buffy,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Supergirl,” and the upcoming “Ahsoka,” to name but a few).  This is not ‘woke’; it’s evolution.  And we can thank Jaime Sommers for using her bionic legs to kick that door down.

Lindsay Wagner’s Jaime Sommers made a bionic leap ahead for women everywhere.  Given the sadly retrograde state of women’s rights in the 21st century, we could use an army of bionic women just like her today…

Where To Watch

“The Bionic Woman” is available to stream on Vudu, PrimeVideo and AppleTV.  The series’ ‘official’ pilot, “The Return of the Bionic Woman Part 1” is available to stream on The entire series is available on remastered BluRay from Shout Factory and on DVD from Universal Home Video.  These box sets can be found on Bay and Amazon. com (prices vary by seller). I have to confess that I lucked out, when I found the entire DVD box set of the series at my local Barnes and Noble for a ridiculously low price. 

Images: MCA Universal, IMDb, Author

8 Comments Add yours

  1. scifimike70 says:

    When a popular series led by a male hero somehow leads to a spinoff with a female lead, there can be creative issues for how significantly different yet fairly similar that spinoff should be, even with a good actress like Lindsay. We’ve come a long way from Bionic Woman and Mrs. Columbo to Capt. Kathryn Janeway, Xena: Warrior Princess and The Sarah Jane Adventures. So it’s good to reflect on how brave the creative powers were for their times to give us a worthy female icon in an originally male-dominated universe. Thank you for this article.

    1. My pleasure, Mike.

  2. Tony Vaughan says:

    Another great article, and you keep finding these nuggets for me to re-review!!

    I always found The Bionic Woman a bit of TV candy in that I would enjoy it at the time but instantly forget it within a few days. However, having read your review it will probably make me go back and look at it again in a more mature, adult light. I can watch these series from the 70’s/80’s and take into account their limitations and just focus on the stories and acting.

    As a side note, lovely to see the picture of Richard Anderson who was a wonderful actor in pretty much everything he did. He always seemed to elevate the material above its intended level. My personal favourite appearance of his was in The Night Strangler as Dr. Richard Malcolm. Such a charmingly psychotic character!! If you’ve ever seen the Kolchak: The Night Stalker movie I think you’ll know what I mean. And there is a series that deserves a lot more praise and recognition. The X-Files will forever be in it’s debt.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed it!

      And yes, I have seen “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” in fact, it was one of my favorite shows as a kid (including the two pilots):

  3. Lorraine Fiel says:

    I loved and regularly watched both the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man when they were on TV. I remember Max the dog, Oscar and lots of the episodes you mentioned. I watched a couple episodes of Six Million Dollar Man a few years ago on whatever streaming service if was on and still loved it.

    1. scifimike70 says:

      I have very faint memories of both shows. But I certainly remember seeing them at a very early age. Along with a lot of sci-fi TV thanks to being both a Trekker and a Whovian so easily. In this generation the ethical realisms for advanced cybernetics may be much clearer. But the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman are thankfully still worthy of acclaim for redefining the action hero genre for the time.

  4. Nancy says:

    I only watched a few episodes each of The Bionic Woman and Million Dollar Man- and found both cheesy. However, your post makes me want to revisit them both for at least a few episodes!

    1. They are cheesy, you’re absolutely right. But if one can turn off a few critical filters, they’re silly fun too. 😊

Leave a Reply