The Six Million Dollar Man – The Complete Collection DVD Review: Oscar Goldman can't make this set any better

Currently only available through their website until October 2011, Time Life presents The Six Million Dollar Man – The Complete Collection, marking its debut on DVD.  The series mixed action and sci fi into a fun, family mix, yet this massive 40-disc set is most likely to appeal to the Gen Xers who grew up with it.  This review will focus on Season One and the set of Exclusive Bonus Features that were made available.

the six million dollar man

Based on Martin Caidin's novel Cyborg, The Six Million Dollar Man started as a series of three 90-minute TV movies in 1973 before being picked up as a series.  The first TV movie presents his origin as astronaut Steve Austin (Lee Majors), who is severely injured and rebuilt by a government agency.  But don't look for Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) of OSI.  Instead it is Oliver Spencer (Darren McGavin) from OSO who talks Dr. Rudy Wells (Martin Balsam, the first to play him) into installing the bionics into Steve's arm, legs, and eye.  This TV movie has very slow pacing and is a bit silly dramatically as Steve comes to grips.  It might make you want to fast forward to the action when he gets sent to the Middle East on a mission.  Speaking of fast forward, it's funny to see Steve running in fast motion to convey speed rather than the signature slow motion. 

Glen A. Larson takes over as executive producer on the next two TV movies.  A brief opening montage shows Oscar Goldman taking the place of Oliver Spencer, and Alan Oppenheimer now plays Dr. Rudy Wells.  In these TV movies, Steve comes off like James Bond as he deals with Soviets and a kidnapping plot involving gold.  There's a lot of action right and plenty of attractive women.  Guest stars in these movies include Britt Ekland, Earl Holliman, David McCallum, John Vernon, and Elizabeth Ashley.

Harve Bennett took over as executive producer for the 13-episode first season, which began in 1974.  The standout episodes include "Day of the Robot" with John Saxon and a robot impersonator created by Dr. Chester Dolenz (Henry Jones).  This robot became the basis for the Maskatron toy.  Dr. Dolenz returns in "Run, Steve, Run."  "The Rescue of Athena One" features his wife Farrah Fawcett Majors as Major Kelly Wood.  William Shatner hams it up while playing a friend of Steve's who has been endowed with some mental powers after a space mission in "Burning Bright."

Season One comes with a disc of Bonus Features comprised of newly created interviews with the cast, crew, and fans.  "Real Bionics" (12 min.) explores how the science fiction of the show is influencing the modern world.  "An Iconic Opening (19 min.) covers the opening title sequence that TV watcher are familiar with.  "Season 1 VIPS: A Celebration of The Six Million Dollar Man Guest Stars" (12 min.) looks at the familiar TV actors who appeared in the season such as Jo Anne Worley Kevin Tighe, William Shatner, George Takei, and Noah Beery Jr.  Interactive Bonus feature: "Bionic Breakdown" reveals the different aspects of Steve Austin's bionic abilities through clips of him in action.  Lastly, "OSI Mission Debriefing: Executive Producer – Harve Bennett" is an interesting 75-minute interview about the series.

The Exclusive Bones Features comes on a five-DVD set.  The three TV movie reunions find Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) joining Steve: Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Bionic Showdown: the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989), Bionic Ever After (1994).  The graphics and theme songs have been updated and Dr. Rudy Wells is played by Martin E. Brooks, who took over the role in the third season.  Steve's son from a previous relationship ends up getting an advanced set of bionics in "Return."  Sandra Bullock plays Kate, a handicapped young woman who gets bionics in "Showdown." The final TV movie finds the bionic duo getting married after one last adventure.  All three reunions are so corny they are barely watchable.  Not a great way for the characters to go out.  Also included are the first three TV movies edited into two-part episodes for syndication.

That leaves two discs chock full of extras.  "TV Goes Bionic: The Origins of The Six Million Dollar Man" (11 min.) looks at Cyborg writer Martin Caidin, actor Lee Majors, and reveals Steve Bocho was a ghost writer.  "The Bionic Age of TV: The Success of The Six Million Dollar Man" (25 min.) is explored as well as the creation of the Bionic Woman, who the writers killed off, but were forced to bring back.  "Top Secret: The OSI, NASA and Bionics" (11 min.) covers what the government may be working on.  "The Reunion Movies: Life After the Series" (24 min.) is self explanatory as is the "Meet the Cast – Getting to Know" section with segments comprised of "Lee Majors & Steve Austin" (12 min.), "Lindsay Wagner & Jaime Sommers" (15 min), "Richard Anderson & Oscar Goldman" (19 min.), and "Dr. Rudy Wells" (13 min.).

And there's more.  Disc Five has featurettes about "The Pop Culture Effect" (13 min.) and the "Bionic Action…Figures!!!" (21 min.).  The latter shows all the licensed products and the grown men who know way too much about them.  "The Stunts of the Bionic Age" (30 min.) shines a spotlight on the series' unsung heroes.  It's amazing to hear the injuries stunt coordinator Vince Deadrick Sr. gladly suffered over the years.  His near-death experience after a stunt went wrong is stunning.  The Bonus Features conclude with "OSI Mission Debriefing: Lee Majors" in an 85-minute interview, some of which has been repurposed in the other extras.

The Six Million Dollar Man – The Complete Collection is a definitive set that will provide plenty of hours of entertainment.  Other than Lee Majors delivering it to your house or having bionics installed into your body, I can't imagine there's anything more to ask for.

Video: The Six Million Dollar Man – The Complete Collection
Here's a fun montage of Steve Austin in action:  

By Gordon S. Miller

About the author

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003.  Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher.  Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as Blogcritics, FilmRadar, and High Def Digest.  He became the Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Sentries upon its inception in 2011.

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On: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Man, talk about a Steve Austin-palooza! 40-disc set... wow. 

How many full length regular seasons of this show made air? 

Great job breaking this down, El B !

On: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Gordon S. Miller said:

Thanks, boss.  Seasons 2 through 5 had either 21 or 22 episodes.  Time Life did the same thing with Get Smart.  Sold online, then stores, then broke off individual seasons.  I really need to see the Bigfoot episodes


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