Six Million Dollar Man: The Lost Series

October 22, 2008

Col. Steve Austin was one serious badass bionic spy. In his red jogging suit, with his slow-motion run and his lockjawed vocal delivery, Austin dominated the 1970s and proved that just because you’re half machine doesn’t mean you aren’t all man.

A decade after The Six Million Dollar Man went off the air, an attempt was made to revive the show, a “next generation” concept that, when you look back at it, was a lot like this new Knight Rider that’s on now.

The idea was launched as a 1987 TV movie called The Return Of The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. This is a strange film that I didn’t even know existed until a little while ago, and just saw this week. See, I was a large-scale Steve Austin kid (only Star Trek and Planet of the Apes ranked higher for me), but by the time Return came out I would have been more interested in guitars and girls than artificial parts and slow-motion running. Luckily, I am now in my 40s, I actually have artificial parts and the slow-motion thing I do could, technically, be called “staggering,” not running.

This is a weird, weird film. First of all, you get to see Col. Steve Austin retired and operating a fishing boat before Oscar Goldman ropes him back into spy work. You also meet Michael Austin, Steve’s long-lost son, who is now an Air Force cadet about to make an important jet flight (gee, wonder what happens). And you see Steve with a mullet and wearing a pink shirt under a blue Members Only jacket, which is really jarring and dates this movie more than the tan leisure suits ever did.

Lindsay Wagner, meanwhile, has a strange Markie Post hairdo and looks about 20 years older than she really was at the time. She really doesn’t do anything in this movie except walk around and have men ogle her. No, wait, she throws Steve through a window for no reason.

The action sequences are pretty good. At one point, Steve jumps over an apartment building and takes out a speeding getaway car with his feet, then rolls it around the street, all in slow motion. There are a lot of scenes of bionic people throwing stuntmen in bad wigs into things that look like they don’t hurt.

The bulk of the plot involves evil Martin Landau’s right-wing terror group, The Fortress, trying to get its hands on any and every bionic person to learn more about the technology. Michael Austin is in a jet crash and loses, and I am not making this up, his right arm, right eye and both legs … you can guess what happens next. But then the DeBarge music comes in and the movie sinks into shitness. At one point, Steve Austin is wearing acid-washed jeans. Not good.

The idea here was to launch Michael Austin as the new bionic man. Michael was played by a guy named Tom Schanley, who does a pretty decent job. He even looks like Lee Majors. Ironically, Lee Majors II plays the new Oscar Goldman character, Jim Castillian with two Ls, and he looks like his father if his father had been a nerd. The Michael Austin character was a serious upgrade: he could run at 300 miles per hour, shot a laser from his fake eye and was, all in all, tougher and more 80s than his father. You could tell because he flipped up the collar of his jean jacket.

The movie had all the fixins of a late-80s action series, but in the end, it just didn’t work. This would not stop the team; other attempts at relaunching came later, leading to something called Bionic Showdown , a pilot for a new series with Sandra Bullock as the new bionic woman. Sandra Bullock!

An attempt was made to relaunch The Bionic Woman last year, and we know how that turned out. And I have mentioned the ongoing plans to make a new Six Million Dollar Man movie here before. Watching this piece of cyber-turd makes me think it might be better to just leave this 70s icon alone and move on.

P.S. Click here to explore the mind of a guy I’d love to meet.



  1. Somehow this flick passed under my radar. I must confess to conflicting emotions. I want to see it now, but I don’t as well. Where did you find it to watch?

  2. I would love to see a big-screen movie of “The Six Million Dollar Man” if it’s done with the integrity and respect to the TV show. In 2003, there was talk of Jim Carrey playing the role but thankfully that never went anywhere — that would have been a disaster.

    A perfect person to play Steve Austin would be Kevin McKidd of “Rome” fame and is now on “Grey’s Anatomy.:

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