SCORE: 4 out of 4 Tennis Balls
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN 2X19
March 16, 1975
Mood Ring: Purple
Tonight my brothers took over the TV to watch the Six Million Dollar Man again. Ugh! But I could not believe it when I saw there was a Bionic Woman this week! I am so excited! Her name is Jaime Sommers and she was pretty and funny and a tennis player and Steve loves her. Jaime's parachute broke and she almost died and Steve cried, but they made her bionic and she was okay again. Now they are getting married!!!! I really like Jaime Sommers. The story is continued next week!
GIRLS CAN BE BIONIC, TOO?
The happy little accident that started it all—and we aren’t talking skydiving.
April 20, 2012
Dear Bionic Blondes,
Mood Ring: Red
Squee! How great is it to go back to the very beginning to relive Jaime Sommers' debut in bionic land all over again! This is truly like a two martini high, and you don't even need to add alcohol.
The Cone Brothers: The episode opens with Steve on a mission, because well, I suppose it is his show. Oscar sends him to retrieve some printing plates stolen from the Denver mint by a couple of Romanian gangsters. (Again, I have to giggle at the OSI's priority concern that counterfeiting a few $20 bills could damage our financial system any more than the Federal Reserve is pumping fake money into the economy.) Anyway, Steve nabs the plates from the two bad guys—who throughout this two-parter, inconspicuously dress in all-white suits like the Good Humor Man. Because they make their getaway in something resembling an ice cream truck, they shall henceforth be known as Ben & Jerry.
Family Vacation: With mission accomplished, Steve decides to take some vacation time. Tonight, our infamous bionic bachelor is suddenly driving a big, blue family station wagon outfitted with an old Ma Bell car phone, on his way to his hometown Ojai, California—yeah, this picture totally screams “I’m ready to get me a wife and settle down now.” The Six Million Dollar Man then bursts into a little country ditty, which means it's Bionic Blonde Sing-A-Long time!
Gotta get loose, cuz lately
This life is leaving me cold
Gotta van moose (? ban mousse? WTF?--I can't understand this line*) cuz lately
Time flies, but all I get is old
Gotta get loose, cuz lately
I need a spin-off show
Need me a gal, who don't hate me
Because I only run in slow-mo
Well okay, I might have made that last verse up. Steve passes more than one road sign that announces Ojai is the home of famous astronaut Col. Steve Austin, and in the next scene he buys a horse ranch that used to belong to some old guy he fished with as a kid. Upon hearing the property-in-escrow news, Helen and Jim arrive in their pick-up truck to welcome their son home. Sigh. I did not expect to be this thrilled to see Helen again, but evidently I REALLY did miss her in season 3, because I immediately gave my TV a big hug. MOMMY'S HOME!!!!
Habitat for Humanity: The ranch house needs some fixing up. Steve bionic-mows the lawn and window washes, and then Helen (wearing an awesome Aunt Jemima-style bandanna) and Jim come help Steve remodel his kitchen. Steve buys like 8 rolls of the ugliest wallpaper I have ever laid eyes on. Ahhhh! I am mentally begging Helen to stop her son before he makes this serious decorating mistake and winds up on an HGTV kitchen demolition show, but unfortunately she's too preoccupied mixing wallpaper paste with an egg beater and tells him it's “fine.” Steve thought his mom was mixing cake batter and mistakingly stuck his finger in to taste it.
Why, Fiddle Dee Dee: Meanwhile, Jim is flipping through the local paper and asks Helen if they've ever seen Gone With The Wind. She says yeah, like five times. (Seriously how could you not remember seeing this epic movie?) Frankly my dear, let’s just move on from the astute men in Helen's life, to the newspaper headline that announces Jaime Sommers, "Top Seeded Tennis Pro Home For Visit." Steve smiles when he sees her photo. Helen smiles. Oh yeah, she's totally scheming to fix them up.
Time To Go A Courtin’ Since it’s not her show and she’s not even bionic yet, I won’t mention that the Bionic Woman was almost ten minutes late for her very first episode. Steve goes into town and finds Jaime training on the tennis courts. Standing next to him is young actress Dana Plato, who pretty much sums it up for all of us watching tonight:
World? Meet Jaime Sommers. Please do not adjust your sets. For the next sixty seconds, you will hear a loud chorus of angels. There is nothing wrong with the audio on your DVD. Do not try to send it back to Universal for replacement. This is completely normal.
Steve gets Jaime's attention with his first of several Humphrey Bogart impressions, calling her "schweeeetheart." We learn these former childhood friends and quasi-siblings (Helen & Jim were Jaime’s legal guardians when her parents died) haven't seen each other in four years. Jaime is delighted to see Steve, they joke around a little, and go for a long walk where they both confess they are comfortable talking to one another, and admit that with their job travels and tennis circuit commitments, they both feel a little lonely at times. When Steve tries to ask her out for pizza, Jaime declines—she can’t break her date with Not!Steve (minus) -1.0, a.k.a David Welch. Jaime explains she met him in Brussels and “he sort of follows me around from place to place.” (Jaime, really? You’re dating a stalker?) But she asks Steve to please call her tomorrow and kisses him goodbye on the cheek.
The next day Steve takes a canoe out on a lake and bionically spots Jaime on shore, who is there on a phone tip from matchmaker Helen. I always have to ROFL at the sudden, how shall I say, “upward position of the bow?”—on this canoe when Steve sees Jaime and blazingly paddles it to shore. Um. Okee dokee.
We Did Get Serious Once, Remember? Steve and Jaime meet up at a large stump by the lake to talk, but some boys keep throwing a football that repeatedly interrupts their flirtations and attempts to kiss... and I love how annoyed future school teacher Miss Sommers is by the presence of these little brats. Here, we learn Jaime dumped her stalker last evening, and that she and Steve first kissed back when she was a freshman and he was a senior, however the use of calculators to check the age math really is not recommended here. (Besides, who are we to judge Steve for flunking the 12th grade like 6 times?) Steve finally throws the football like a missile to get rid of the boys and he and Jaime finally get a moment to kiss... thus beginning our first classic bionic love music montage. (Boys and girls, today, these are called Cialis commercials.)
With a little lounge beat, Steve sings for us while he and Jaime cross dissolve in slow motion between riding horses and bikes and eating pizza. “Sweet Jaime I'll love you forever / I know we'll never part / I love you like I've loved no other / Make room for me in your heart”
Jaime’s Pie Shop: To show her appreciation for her special song dedication, Jaime braves Steve's loud new wallpaper and bakes him an apple pie in his new kitchen, thereby demonstrating her Betty Crocker cooking skills and ability to become a suitable housewife. They talk about how they're worried about making their relationship work with all their travel and job commitments, and then Oscar calls trying to order Steve to come back to work. Not yet, Oscar. Because today, he and Jaime are going skydiving!
The Six Million Dollar Dating Mistake: But alas, no matter how loud you scream at your TV, these crazy kids go skydiving anyway—jump out of the plane and blow kisses to each other. Steve shows off and does somersaults in the air, and then Jaime does, too. Hey, she’s pretty good for a novice! And more importantly, she looks fabulous in her yellow suit and white helmet. But Jaime’s parachute malfunctions on her descent and she plummets to the ground. Ouuuch! Steve rushes her to the Ventura Air Force Hospital. !!Sob!! My mood ring has now suddenly turned black.
Never Make Big Decisions While On Pain Killers: Poor Jaime is critically injured and on the brink of death. While Steve mourns by her bedside, he looks at his bionic hand and makes a fist, realizing that bionics could fix her. When Jaime begins to regain consciousness—barely able to speak—Steve asks Jaime’s permission to exercise the terms of her living will—the section that states if she is ever in a serious skydiving accident, the man she is dating at the time can make all medical decisions on her behalf. With a “will you trust me?” and a nod, Jaime just bought herself a colossal bionic contract.
There’s a nice scene between Steve and Oscar arguing over getting a Bionic Woman approved; both financially and emotionally on Steve’s part—and Mr. Majors does a wonderful job in this scene... I mean you can really sense Steve’s desperation to do whatever it takes to keep his Jaime alive. All while wearing a really nice maroon turtleneck. Oscar finally agreed to do it. And then Jaime immediately goes into bionic surgery, and I just love how the camera pans up to show that Steve and Oscar have box seats for the big event. Because you wouldn’t want to miss the part where Rudy saws Jaime’s legs off. Pass the popcorn!
Congrats, Honey. You Hit The Bionic Lottery! When Jaime wakes up from her surgery, she tells Steve she thought she was dead. But she’s confused about why her right arm seems better, and then comes the part where Steve has to inform her she’s a bionic woman now. Jaime freaks out. “OMG what did you let them DO to me?!” Steve grabs the back of a metal chair and bends it, revealing to her for the first time that he’s bionic, too. Both his legs and an eye. “Which eye?” Jaime asks. “You tell me.” When Jaime can’t tell the difference, her fears begin to subside, and Steve promises to be there for her every step of the way.
Yeah, But Can She Play The Violin? After the commercial Jaime starts physical therapy and accidentally pulverizes a tennis ball, takes her first bionic baby steps in a scene where she meets Oscar for the first time, and eventually tackles the bionic treadmill. Then it’s time to calibrate her bionic ear. From outside the sound testing booth, Steve whispers the first part of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme and Jaime finishes it: “And Rudy Wells and his bionic men, put Jaime and Steve back together again.” (References to both the tennis ball and this Humpty Dumpty rhyme will cleverly come full circle in The Bionic Woman’s final episode On The Run.)
Back After These Messages: Talk about capturing lightening in a bottle. This 2-parter started with a great script by Kenneth Johnson, who managed to pace and craft this little episodic television love story into something completely engaging and emotionally captivating. And then you had the perfect casting of Lindsay Wagner, who brought a wonderful energy and effervescent quality to Jaime Sommers that made her so immediately likable. Next, add in the great on-screen rapport with Lee Majors. Sometimes it just takes a happy little chemistry accident of assorted elements like this to create a nuclear explosion. (Think how many TV shows and Hollywood films attempt this and fail—and on budgets much greater.) For me, it was most especially in the writing and casting of this unlikely female heroine, Jaime Sommers. Truly, she had me at hello. (Okay, scroll up to view Jaime with her halo, again.)
Full Speed Ahead: Then it was time to take the Bionic Woman out for a test drive on the highway. I just loved Steve and Jaime’s matching jogging suits in this scene as they raced down the road in Ojai.
But Steve, honey—did we accidentally wash these sweat pants in hot water? They seem to be a little short on you. When they stop to rest, Jaime drops a big ole “bride of Frankenstein” hint on Steve, inspiring him to propose. Jaime enthusiastically accepts. Squee--they’re getting married! Don’t you just love semi-happy endings in two-parters?
Later with the family gathered in the dining room, they all raise a Florida Orange Juice toast to the future Mrs. Steve Austin. But oops, Jaime accidentally crushes her glass. Clearly, something is wrong with her bionic hand. Not only because Steve scolded her for not having Rudy check it out like he asked her to, but more importantly, because the music suddenly changed and got all spooky and dramatic.
Scoop of Ice Cream: And then to make matters worse, Ben & Jerry open their Romanian newspaper, which has naturally bumped all local news to scoop the world’s top story: Col. Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers are betrothed!! But unfortunately, Ben & Jerry recognize Steve’s photo as the same guy who stole their stolen mint plates. It’s payback time! (Insert sinister laugh here.)
TO BE CONTINUED...
Jaime had a minimum of 10 wardrobe changes in this first episode, including her skydiving suit. She wore a lot of rusts and reds, a few neck scarfs, really wide collars were in this year, and I couldn’t resist including Helen in this—she was stylin’, too!
*Ahh, Steve is using the word “vamoose” in this song, which according to Websters, is an intransitive verb that means “to depart quickly.” Thanks to Paul K. Bisson for today’s vocabulary tip! I will stop making a fool of myself at parties by singing van moose, now.
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