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Bionic Woman, The (ABC-NBC 1976, Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson)

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The Six Million Dollar Man was a major hit for ABC in the mid-70’s, spawning the superhero craze that ran rampant on television during that era. During that show’s highly successful run, a two-part March 1975 episode aired entitled ‘The Bionic Woman,’ which introduced the character of Jaime Sommers. Jaime was a childhood girlfriend of Steve Austin’s that he’d lost touch with over the years. She came back into his life, only to be crippled in a skydiving accident.

Steve begged his boss, Oscar Goldman, to rebuild her with bionic limbs just like they did with him. Thus, Jaime became his bionic mate and was about to become his fellow agent when tragedy stuck once more. Her body’s immune system began to reject the parts, and she slipped into a fatal coma. However, this coma became non-fatal when ABC saw the ratings brought in by these episodes. They commissioned the episode’s author, Kenneth Johnson, to create a series built around Jamie and re-signed Lindsay Wagner, a contract actress whose contract they were going to let expire, to play the role in the one-hour series.

As The Bionic Woman opened, it was revealed that Jaime was saved from her coma via radical medical procedures. Once she recovered, Oscar employed her as an agent for the Office of Scientific Information (just like Steve). He also gave her a cover identity as a teacher at an Air Force base in Ventura, California. When not posing as a teacher, she would undertake secret missions using her bionic abilities. These mechanically-enhanced gifts included super-speed from a pair of bionic legs, an extremely strong bionic right arm, and super hearing via a bionically-enhanced ear.

Most missions involved Jaime’s taking on an undercover identity. Male viewers enjoyed this aspect of her missions because it always put in her provocative situations and attire (producing many a bionic wow!). Some of her more intriguing undercover guises included a roller-derby queen, a belly dancer, and a lady wrestler. Eventually, Steve Austin was told that Jaime was alive and the two would eventually work together on a few missions. Other cast members included Dr. Rudy Wells, the creator of Jaime’s bionic enhancements, and Peggy Callahan, Oscar’s secretary. Jim and Helen Elgin, Jaime’s step-father and mother, were occasionally featured on the show. Jaime would later get another bionic companion in the form of Max, a bionically-enhanced dog.

The show lasted until May of 1977 on ABC. It was picked up by NBC and returned to the air in September of 1977, where it ran for an additional year. Years later, Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin were reunited in a series of made for television films in the late 80’s and early 90’s: The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989), and Bionic Ever After? (1994) amongst them.

production details
USA | ABC – NBC | 57×50 minutes | 14 January 1976 – 2 September 1978

Executive Producer: Harve Bennett
Producer: Ken Johnson
Theme Music: Jerry Fielding

cast
Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers
Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman
Martin E. Brooks as Dr. Rudy Wells
Ford Rainey as Jim Elgin
Martha Scott as Helen Elgin

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