The Bionic Woman began as a 2-part story broadcast in March 1975 on the second season of The Six Million Dollar Man. In it, we were introduced to Jaime Sommers, the girlfriend of Bionic hero Steve Austin. As Steve and Jaime began to rekindle their childhood romance, a tragic skydiving accident left Jaime critically injured.
Lindsay Wagner on a promotional tour in London, UK
Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers - promotional still
Steve Austin turned to his friend, and O.S.I boss, Oscar Goldman, to use the same Bionic techniques on Jaime, which had saved his own life after a near fatal test flight crash. Oscar authorised the procedure, and Dr Rudy Wells performed the surgery, which would give Jaime a Bionic ear, right arm and 2 legs. After appearing to make a full recover, Steve and Jaime continued with their plans to get married but could not foresee that Jaime's body would reject the her Bionic implants with fatal consequences. Following the ratings success of the first story, Jaime was miraculously 're-born' as the opening 2-parter for The Six Million Dollar Man's' 3rd season in September of the same year, ironically called 'Return of The Bionic Woman'. After Jaime is revived from cryogenics, she and Steve are reunited, however Jaime all memories of her and Steve friendship are now gone were lost. but this story also ended tragically as Steve's presence in Jaime's life invoked painful and possible life-threatening episodes. Steve realised that he must separate himself from Jaime in order to protect her and at the end of the story she is re-located to Rudy Well's lab in Colorado Springs.
But as we know, heroes never die, especially not if they bring ratings! After ABC executives realised how popular the Jaime Sommers character was Lindsay Wagner was given her own series, The Bionic Woman which debuted in January 1976. Jaime relocated to Ohai, where she grew up and took a job on Ventura Air Force base as a school teacher, a cover for her double life as an OSI operative. The show ran for 58 episodes, with various cross-over stories and characters on The Six Million Dollar Man. The Bionic duo were a ratings winner and regularly topped ratings and popularity polls for the shows, making household names of their stars Lee Majors, Lindsay Wagner and Richard Anderson.
Jaime Sommers - publicity still
Jaime meets her biggest adversary... The Fembots
Jaime with Max, the Bionic dog.
indsay's show developed it's own style under the demands of it's young star and stories were more character driven than Lee Majors' Six Million Dollar Man and showed Jaime saving the day thru the use of her humanity and belief in her fellow man, rather than violence or force.
Both shows ruled the airwaves in the mid-to-late 70's and spawned one of the first examples of mass merchandising for a TV show, only rivalled at the time by the Star Wars franchise. Despite the cancellation of the show at the end of it's third season in Spring of 1978, the show continued to lived on thru it's fandom and 'Bionics' made their way into the popular culture. Fall of 1987 saw Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin reunited for the first of 3 Bionic reunion movies: The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman. Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors starred, alongside series regulars Richard Anderson [OSI boss Oscar Goldman] and Martin E Brooks [Dr. Rudy Wells]. This, and the subsequent movie Bionic Showdown [guest starring a young Sandra Bullock], were the studio's attempt to launch a new Bionic series with a younger cast, but despite healthy ratings nothing ever came of it. A final movie, Bionic Ever After? in 1994 saw the fans' dream realised as Steve and Jaime finally got married… after 20 years!
Both shows still have a loyal and ever growing fan base. The shows are now starting to come out on DVD [the first 2 seasons of both shows are available as boxsets on Region 2], 2006 saw the first officially organised Bionic Convention in America with a second planned for 2007, and web sites and Yahoo Groups continue to discuss, report, dissect and pay homage to 2 beloved shows and their stars. They may look a little quaint and cheesy by today's standards, but back in the day Bionics ruled for a whole generation of baby boomers.
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