US tv series (1973-1978). A Silverton and Universal Production for ABC. Executive producers Glen A Larson, Harve Bennett, Allan Balter. Produced by Michael Gleason, Lionel E Siegel, Joe L Cramer, Fred Freiberger. Based on the novel Cyborg (1972) by Martin Caidin. The series began as a 90-minute ABC "Wednesday Movie of the Week" in 1973; two more made-for-tv movies followed, then the series: five seasons, 100 50-minute episodes. Colour.
Lee Majors plays Steve Austin, a former US Air Force astronaut who, after an accident in an experimental aircraft, has his badly injured body rebuilt with artificial parts (both legs, one arm, one eye whose replacement has a built-in camera), becoming a Cyborg, though it is impossible to tell externally which parts are artificial. His unique situation is treated in purely comic-book terms for a presumably juvenile audience. He becomes a latter-day Superman, able to perform feats of great strength and move at incredible speeds, and is used as a special agent by a CIA-like government organization. The basic premise of the series is technologically absurd – while Austin's Bionic arm might conceivably be able to withstand lifting huge weights, the leverage would snap his non-bionic bones at or near the point of attachment or (more probably) collapse his unmodified spine. The success of The Six Million Dollar Man resulted in a rather better spin-off series, The Bionic Woman. [JB/DRL]
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