TV on DVD: “The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection”
Mutter the words, “Steve Austin, astronaut,” and your mind probably hears the marching snare drum and computer blips that were a part of the title sequence to the 70’s sci-fi hit show, The Six Million Dollar Man. If you’re willing to pay the price for this deluxe box set of the entire series, you’ll hear those words and blips each and every time you open the lid to pull out one of the DVD’s. Time-Life has done a superior job in packaging everything you ever wanted to own about The Six Million Dollar Man.
In The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection you get the three TV movie/pilots that told tell the origin of Colonel Steve Austin (Lee Majors), the astronaut whose jet crashes in the desert, resulting in lost limbs and an eye. The government decides rebuild him (they have the technology, after all) into a cyborg- half-man/half machine, and Austin becomes a bionic man. The first three movies show his early adventures before there was a series.
This collector’s set also contains every single episode of the television series; all three of the reunion movies (including the final one in which Austin finally weds his true love, Jaime Summers, the Bionic Woman); plus 17 featurettes, six audio commentaries and mini biographies of the actors and their characters. The Six Million Dollar Man was the 4th most requested unreleased show on DVD and with this set, the wait was well worth it.
If you ever dreamed of riding horses with Jamie Summers, imagined your own epic showdown with Big Foot, or carried your Steve Austin action figure around so you could look through the telescopic eye and spy on people, this one’s for you.
I was skeptical when the box set arrived at my front door. Often, when I’ve traveled down Nostalgia Boulevard to revisit an old movie or TV show from my childhood, the trips have ended in disappointment. Either the shows don’t hold up or the inferior film stock is too damaged, the prints full of dust and scratches. Not so, here. Every episode and each movie looks fresh from digitally restoration. While maybe not as pristine for those used to high definition, the picture quality of these DVD’s is superior to many of the 70’s shows I’ve seen released on DVD. As for the sound? The sound is outstanding, making the viewing experience jut as fun as I remember as a kid.
So what about the content? I’m happy to say that The Six Million Dollar Man still works after all these years. Sure, some of the storylines and the technology are dated, but overall the plots are strong (if you like sci-fi) and the acting is fun. This is a series that will maintain its appeal for people who grew up on it, yet it’s also a fine show to share with your comic book/action adventure loving kids.
Majors was the perfect choice to play Austin. With the right mix of handsome ruggedness and good humor, Majors portrayed the role with a light touch, but he had the acting chops to turn serious when needed. The actor appears to have approached the writing with respect, like any good thespian will do. It’s as if he knew that the stories could sometimes be a little hokey, but he never acted like the material was beneath him.
Richard Anderson, as Oscar Goldman, Austin’s government superior, is also outstanding. He has one of those mugs that can be somber and earnest; his tone can be a very serious. However, because of the rapport established with Majors, there’s a great sense of camaraderie between the two men that make you care about the men. In the show, both men become close friends, and it is obvious that the friendship extended off screen, as well. Let’s be honest, the sci-fi elements may have been what drew people into the show, but it was the strength of the performances by Majors and Anderson that kept viewers coming back. They made the show enjoyable to match.
The stories weren’t all fun and games, though. The classic “Bionic Woman” two-parter is an example of that. In that episode, Austin’s fiancé, Jaime Summers (every 11-year-old’s fantasy, Lindsay Wagner) suffers a debilitating accident. She is surgically enhanced with mechanical parts, just like Austin, and becomes the world’s first bionic woman. However, her body rejects the machinery placed in her body and she dies! Holy crap! Who remembers that one? I didn’t! Because of her popularity, the writers brought her back (of course) and she eventually received her own series. At the end of that “very special” Six Million Dollar Man, Majors delivered some mighty fine acting after his lover dies.
It will take even die-hard fans a long time to get through the wealth of material in this collection. It was released in November, I received it mid-December and I’m just now ready to write about it. You shouldn’t be intimidated, though, as The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection is what collectors desire the most. It uses the DVD medium not only to present and preserve an art form for years to come, but it also enhances the viewing experience with so much additional material. This series easily could have been shipped out with just the episodes and little else, but the producers of this collection had the fans in mind when they took the care and time to do things right.
The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection is available exclusively through TimeLife.com