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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Bionic Woman
The Complete Collection


Starring: Lindsay Wagner
Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £99.99
Certificate: PG
Available 03 December 2012

Jaime Sommers, is a top level tennis star and old flame of Steve Austin, better known as the Six Million Dollar Man, having been rebuilt with robotics following a plane crash, becoming a cyborg. When he returns home to settle some family affairs he rekindles his relationship with Jamie. Their new love goes well and Austin commits to marrying Jamie, but before they can wed, Austin takes his love for a sky-dive, a dive which ends with Jamie’s parachute failing; she falls, nearly fatally to the ground. Austin pleads with his boss to save her life by giving her robotic implants, resurrecting her as The Bionic Woman and the newest recruit to the OSI...

The Bionic Woman ran for three successful seasons between 1976 - 1978, running to fifty-eight episodes, all of which you can now own with a three season box set, containing eighteen disc, with all fifty-eight episodes, plus a few interesting additions. The show is presented in its original aspect ratio the picture can be a little grainy at times, but nothing which really spoils the show. Audio is 2.0.

The addition of all three seasons in a single box set must have taken some light footing around rights issues as the show’s first two seasons were made by ABC, who dropped the show, the last season was made by NBC, which made crossovers between the two shows impossible.

The show stared Lindsay Wagner who, as an operative of the OSI, spends her time stopping crooks and generally engaging in daring do. Her show was distinguished from The Six Million Dollar Man by its lack of violence used by Sommers, but also by the introduction of her own long running villains, the Fembots.

There were many bizarre concepts in the show, which at the time seemed to work, that look insane now. I mostly thinking of how the show portrayed the bionic pair’s ability to run at great speed. Now, to show that every episode as a special effect would have made for a prohibitively expensive show, so someone had the odd, but brilliant idea of showing this by showing it in slow motion. Having committed to the idea most feats of superhuman strength was shown in slow motion with a twangy sound added to the audio track.

Season One - Five Discs.

The box set opens with the episodes from The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman Pt1 & 2, with full length commentary by writer, Kenneth Johnson, as well as both episodes of The Return of the Bionic Woman. Disc two is where the show really starts with the two -parter Welcome Home, Jamie; the disc also includes Angel of Mercy and A Thing of the Past. Disc three contains Claws, The Deadly Missiles, Bionic Beauty and Jamie’s Mother.

Disc four has Winning is Everything, Canyon of Death, Fly Jamie and The Jailing of Jamie, with the ultimate disc contains the last two episodes of the first season, Mirror Image, which has a full length commentary from director Alan J. Levi and writer James D. Parriott and The Ghost Hunter which also has a commentary, this time from writer/director Kenneth Johnson.

Overall the season wasn’t too bad and certainly was popular enough to gain another one. There was a lot of crossover with The Six Million Dollar Man, not least because Richard Anderson played Jamie and Steve’s boss Oscar Goldman on both shows.

There are a number of extras on the last disc, including a Gag Reel (1 min, 44 sec), which is a collection of outtakes; the film prints show various types and stages of damage, Bionic Beginnings Featurette (24 min, 30 sec) which takes a retrospective look at the show, with surviving cast and crew. The disc is wrapped up with a Bionic Gallery (6 min, 24 sec), a self-playing photo album consisting of off camera shots, publicity photos and shots from the show.

Season Two - Six Discs

This was the last season produced by ABC, which makes the decision to drop the show as Wagner won an Emmy for Deadly Ringer; it was also the season of the Fembots.

Disc one has another cross over with The Six Million Dollar man with The Return of Bigfoot Part 1 as well as Part 2, which was actually the first episode of season two. In this Corner, Jamie Sommers and Assault on the Princess wraps the disc up. The quality of presentation is the same as season one.

Disc two adds a little pep to proceedings with a full length commentary on the first story, Road to Nashville, with Lindsay Wagner herself. We are back into crossover territory with Kill Oscar, a story in three parts, with part two actually being part of The Six Million Dollar Man show.

Disc three is a vanilla affair containing just the episodes Black Magic, Sister Jamie, The Vega Influence and Jamie’s Shield pt. 1; however things pick up on disc four with three of the stories having full length commentaries. Jamie’s Shield pt. 2 is a plain old Jane, but it picks up with Bio Feedback with another commentary by Lindsay Wagner. Doomsday is Tomorrow has commentary with Kenneth Johnson who also provides one for Doomsday is Tomorrow pt. 2.

After that fun filled disc we are back to vanilla with just the episodes on disc five, Deadly Ringer pt. 1 & 2, Jamie and the King and Beyond the Call. We sail into the sunset that is the end of season two with The Dejon Caper, The Night Demon, Iron Ships and Dead Men and once again they are all plain Jane’s. However, there are a few extras on six with a Bionic Blast Feature (11 min, 29 sec) with a look back at the show's second season and another Bionic Gallery (4 min, 57 sec).

So the show had its most successful season both critically, for innovation of ideas and of course the Emmy for Wagner, so it is perverse that the show was cancelled at the close of season two, but every hero needs rescuing sometime and over the hill came NBC to give us one last season to enjoy and more importantly they used the last episode to bring a proper closure to the story, something which is pretty rare in American program making.

Season Three - Seven Discs

The first thing you notice is that the quality of the print is better than the slightly grainy one retained by ABC, otherwise the presentation remains the same.

Disc one contains, I kid you not, The Bionic Dog pts. 1 & 2, which is better than its title would suggest. Part one also has a commentary by James D. Perriott and the disc is filled out with the two parts of Fembots in Las Vegas. Rodeo kicks off disc two followed by African Connection, Motorcycle Boogie and Brain Wash, which has a connected podcast by fan and collector James Sherrard.

Skirting the isthmus of Bionic overdose we sail the ship into the deeper waters of disc three, only to find our quest for bionic bounty dashed across the ragged rocks of disappointment, finding only four more episodes, Escape to Love, Max, Over The Hill Spy and All for One. Disappointment upon disappointment is dashed upon the heads of the true believers as we find yet another vanilla disc in disc four with The Pyramid, The Antidote, The Martians are Coming and Sanctuary Earth, some really good doses of hokum, slock science fiction are her on display, a lot of fun if you turn your brain off, it’s almost up there with Galactica 80.

On the downward slope towards bionic oblivion and we turn the corner only to find that the pods have attacked, vanilla is everywhere with a quartet of stories, Deadly Music, Which One is Jamie, Out of Body and Long Live the King. Just when all seemed lost redemption arrives in the form of disc six which has the final two stories of the show, Rancho Outcast and On The Run with commentary with writer Steven E De Souza. The disc also has extras, a Q & A with Lindsay Wagner (15 min) and another Bionic Gallery (4 min, 31 sec). We still have another disc to go, but that didn’t stop them sticking on the reunion film, Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman (1 hr, 38 min, 09 sec).

So, we finally sail into the safe harbour of the ultimate disc in the box set and still there are treasures to be found in the form of two more reunion movies, Bionic Showdown (1 hr, 35 min, 48 sec) and Bionic Ever After (1 hr, 30 min, 21 sec), wherein our hearts melt finally seeing the two bionics live happily ever after and a Bionic Reunion Gallery (2 min, 59 sec).

Of course, us poor reviewers only get the check disks, but if you buy the box set the PR blurb promise a couple of full colour booklets.

Like most long running series, the show had its ups and downs, what those will be will very much rely on personal taste. On the one hand it was good for young girls to have a strong role model to emulate, on the other Jamie invariably found herself taking on traditional female jobs when she went undercover. If you liked the show then you’re in the pleasant position of seeing the whole story, with Steve and Jamie finally getting married, thankfully the makers refrained from showing us bionic bonking, though I presume it would be in slow motion.

Overall, it’s a great box set, with enough extra material to keep the most ardent fan happy.


Charles Packer

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