The Six Million Dollar Man was an American science fiction and action television series starring Lee Majors as Colonel Steve Austin which ran for five seasons from 1973 to 1978.
Colonel Steve Austin was a former NASA astronaut, severely injured in a crash, whose life was saved at a cost of six million dollars.
In the opening sequence, which spawned the catchphrase ‘We can rebuild him; we have the technology’ we are told that Steve Austin was a man barely alive but with technology he could be rebuilt making him the world’s first bionic man. He would be better than he was before. He would be better, stronger and faster.
With his new abilities he was able to run at speeds of 60 mph, his left eye had a 20:1 zoom lens and infrared capabilities and his right arm had the equivalent strength of a bulldozer. He used these abilities to work for the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) as a secret agent reporting into Oscar Goldman.
So viewers were aware when Austin was using his bionic legs or arm the sequences were presented in slow-motion accompanied with bionic sound effects. When his bionic eye was used the camera would zoom in to show a close up of his eye. His viewpoint included a crosshair motif along with beeping sound effects.
During its run we were introduced to Steve’s girlfriend, Jaime Sommers, who became injured in a skydiving accident. Steve convinced Oscar to save Jaime by also giving her bionic parts but she died after her body rejected them. Such was the popularity of her character it was revealed the following season that she had actually survived and she was given her own spin-off series The Bionic Woman.
The Six Million Dollar Man was so popular in the 70’s that merchandise was soon hitting shops which included everything from toys, boardgames, lunch boxes, running shoes and bedding. Particularly popular was a 12 inch Steve Austin action figure marketed by Kenner.
Though the series was cancelled in 1978 the popularity of the programme continued resulting in three made for television movies in 1987, 1989 and 1994. Lee Majors reprised his role of Steve Austin in all three productions.